CHICAGO -- Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes to James Jones and the Green Bay Packers overcame a sluggish start to beat the Chicago Bears, 21-13, Sunday and clinch the NFC North division title.
It was the Packers' eighth victory in nine games after a 2-3 start, raising their overall record to 10-4. Chicago, which started 7-1, losing only to Green Bay in the first half of the season, lost for the fifth time in six games and fell to 8-6.
Rodgers completed just 2 of 6 passes in the first quarter, which ended with the Packers at minus-3 yards passing. But after Chicago went ahead 7-0 in the second quarter on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall, Rodgers took control of the game.
He finished with 23 completions in 36 attempts for 291 yards.
Following the kickoff after the Bears' touchdown, Rodgers directed an 89-yard drive in seven plays, ignited by a 19-yard pass to Greg Jennings, who broke three tackles. Randall Cobb, who earlier dropped a would-be touchdown pass when he was wide open, made a nifty leap for a 31-yard catch on 3rd-and-6 and, three plays later, Rodgers threw 29 yards to Jones for the first Green Bay touchdown.
In the last two minutes of the half, Chicago's Devin Hester apparently ran the wrong route and rookie cornerback Casey Hayward intercepted a Cutler pass, returning it 24 yards to the Bears' 26-yard line. While Cutler was screaming at coaches on the Bears' bench about Hester's apparent blunder, Rodgers completed another third down pass to Cobb for 13 yards and then connected with Jones for an 8-yard touchdown pass and 14-7 lead at the half.
The Packers took control of the game by driving 79 yards for a touchdown from the second half kickoff, using nearly seven minutes. Rodgers threw a six-yard pass to Jones for the touchdown that made it 21-7.
A fumble by running back Ryan Grant of Green Bay gave Chicago a chance later in the quarter but the Bears were stymied after reaching the 1-yard line, and had to settle for a field goal by Olindo Mare after an offensive pass interference call against Alshon Jeffrey wiped out his touchdown catch. Jeffrey was called for two more interference penalties in the fourth quarter.
Mare, who joined the Bears this week to replace the injured Robbie Gould, kicked another field goal with 7:04 remaining after the Packers mysteriously tried a cross-field lateral on a punt return to Jeremy Ross, a first-year wide receiver who had not touched the ball all season. Ross dropped the throw and the Bears recovered at the Green Bay 16-yard line.
Notes: This is the second year in a row the Bears have faded down the stretch. Last year, they went 1-5 after a 7-3 start but at least that time they had the excuse of losing Cutler to an injury ... Green Bay has won six straight games against Chicago and 12 straight against NFC North opponents ... Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, who missed four games due to a hamstring injury, returned to the lineup and made two sacks, his team-leading 10th and 11th in the 10 games he has played ... Don't be surprised if the Packers have a new placekicker by next week. Mason Crosby was wide right with a 43-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter and bounced a 42-yarder off the left upright in the fourth. In between, the Packers passed up a field goal try on 4th-and-6 from the Chicago 26-yard line on the drive that led to their third touchdown. Crosby has missed 12 of 29 attempts this year.