GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A defeat against the rival Chicago Bears might prove to be the second-most important loss the Green Bay Packers suffered Monday.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down in the first quarter with a left shoulder injury, and Green Bay went on to fall 27-20 to the Bears at Lambeau Field, creating a three-way tie atop the NFC North.
Rodgers hurt his left collarbone when sacked by defensive end Shea McClellin on the Packers' opening possession. Rodgers stepped up in the pocket and moved to his right, with McClellin getting off right tackle Don Barclay's block. Rodgers hit the turf hard, landing on his left (non-throwing) shoulder as McClellin and cornerback Isaiah Frey took him down.
A Chicago radio reporter said sources told him Rodgers broke his collarbone, though Packers coach Mike McCarthy wouldn't confirm that report following the game.
"I just had a chance to speak to Aaron before he went into the training room," McCarthy said. "He has a shoulder injury. They want to run more tests. They don't have an exact diagnosis is where we are. We'll have more information for you probably tomorrow."
Without Rodgers and Chicago quarterback Jay Culter, who sat out due to a groin injury, the game became a battle of journeymen backup quarterbacks. Seneca Wallace, 33, replaced Rodgers, and Josh McCown, 34, got the start in place of Cutler.
McCown completed 22 of 41 passes for 272 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions as the Bears joined the Packers and Detroit Lions at 5-3 in first place.
"It would be hard to find win better than this, but they are all special at every level, from back at high school to Sam Houston State to now," McCown said. "They are all special. This is really neat because it means so much to our team."
Wallace finished 11-for-19 for 114 yards with one interception. The Packers went 1-for-9 on third down.
"We missed a couple things," Wallace said. "Obviously, the timing and things like that, but if I make some better throws, I feel like we could have gotten some good things going, got a couple first downs, got a little momentum. The offensive line did great, we ran the ball well. I've just got to make some better plays here and there."
The Bears scored the game's final 10 points.
Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy gained 150 yards on 22 carries, but he and his teammates felt the loss of Rodgers.
"Oh, man, he's the heart and soul of this team -- offense and defense -- and it took a lot out of us," Lacy said. "We tried to step up the best we could."
What the Bears said
"I feel like somebody hit me in my head or something because I remember stepping up. I threw it and then I can't remember if I got hit again. I don't know if I had a clean view of it, but I know that he was fighting with a guy when I let it go, so he must have made a great play." -- Quarterback Josh McCown, on avoiding a potential sack by Packers defensive end Mike Neal on his 23-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Marshall in the first quarter.
What the Packers said
"Seneca, he needs to perform better, and he'll definitely do that with a week of practice. We're on a short week. We're on a six-day week. We've got the Eagles coming in -- new staff, uncommon opponent. We need to do a better job in the passing game. I think it was obvious tonight that third down was something that held us back. Hey, disappointing loss, no doubt. We fully expected to win the game. Had some opportunities, and we have no excuses. We didn't play well enough; they beat us." -- Coach Mike McCarthy.
What we learned about the Bears
1. Josh McCown gives the Bears every opportunity to win a game, which can't be said about most backup quarterbacks. It wasn't just that McCown went 22-for-41 for 272 yards and two touchdowns. His scrambling ability keeps defenses playing on their heels. More than anything, McCown didn't turn over the ball, and he threw only one pass that had a chance of being intercepted. "Josh did a nice job of managing and changing the protections when he had to," coach Marc Trestman said. Sometimes, a quarterback doesn't have to win the game. He just needs to make sure he doesn't lose it.
2. Chicago wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery combined for 12 catches for 167 yards and two touchdowns. What won't show up in the box score is their blocking ability. Time and again, the Bears' big receivers manhandled the Packers' smaller cornerbacks. That was a big reason why the Bears ran for 171 yards against Green Bay's fourth-ranked run defense. "We knew going in (they are) big, physical receivers," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "They did a good job blocking us, probably factored in their run-game production. I can't be specific with that without looking at the video. They had separation on us in coverage and made a lot of plays, so they had a lot of production on offense."
What we learned about the Packers
1. Aaron Rodgers is the MVP of the team. Nothing earth-shattering about that statement, obviously, but the Packers have won games when stalwarts such as linebacker Clay Matthews, wide receiver Randall Cobb, tight end Jermichael Finley, safety Morgan Burnett and cornerback Casey Hayward were sidelined for long stretches. When Rodgers went down, however, the Packers' offense fizzled. Green Bay converted just one of nine third-down opportunities Monday. "We were not very productive in the passing game, especially on third down," coach Mike McCarthy said. "We had a few series there where we were on the fringe."
2. The Packers' defense needs a closer. Green Bay has been outscored 83-43 in the fourth quarter this season. When the Packers needed a stop Monday night, the Bears produced an 18-play drive that took almost nine minutes off the clock and culminated in a field goal to make it a seven-point game. "We missed an opportunity today," Packers defensive lineman Ryan Pickett said. "We got outplayed. All around, we got outplayed. They did pretty much what they wanted on our defense. We didn't have a stellar performance at all. It's no excuses. We got outplayed tonight."