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.
Chicago recaptured the lead, 24-20, on a drive set up by Devin Hester's 23-yard punt return. On second-and-goal at the 6, McCown threw a jump ball to receiver Alshon Jeffery, who used his size and strong hands to prevent cornerback Davon House from ripping away the ball in the end zone with less than three minutes left in the third quarter.
Chicago then turned to its defense, which entered the night ranked 29th in scoring and on pace to allow the most points in franchise history. The Packers' ensuing possession crossed midfield but stalled when Julius Peppers deflected a third-and-5 pass. Green Bay's next possession reached the Bears' 40 with a third-and-3, but McClellin tripped up Wallace for a sack.
Bears coach Marc Trestman made a gutsy decision midway through the fourth quarter. With Chicago facing fourth-and-inches from his 32, he called a timeout and kept his offense on the field. Running back Matt Forte (24 carries, 125 yards) gained 3, but only because lead-blocking fullback Tony Fiammetta stopped, took a step back and blocked A.J. Hawk, who was in position to make the tackle in the backfield.
"I can't say there was great analytical reasoning involved," Trestman said. "It was a sense that we needed to stay on the field and I felt that we could and that is what we did. I knew that one way or the other I wouldn't look back and regret the decision that was made."
When McCown hit Brandon Marshall (seven catches, 107 yards) for 11 on third-and-6, it allowed the Bears to burn even more clock. Then, after the two-minute warning, Forte converted a third-and-3 with an 8-yard run. Robbie Gould's 27-yard field goal capped a killer 18-play drive that consumed 8:58 and pushed the advantage to 27-20 with 50 seconds left.
Sacks by Corey Wootton and McClellin, his third of the night, ended the game.
Facing a 17-10 halftime deficit, the Packers stormed out of the tunnel to start the third quarter. After Green Bay forced a three-and-out punt, running back Eddie Lacy (22 carries, 150 yards) rumbled for 56 yards to the 1 and punched it on the next play.
McCarthy dialed up a surprise onside kick, with linebacker Jamari Lattimore recovering to give the Packers another possession. That drive bogged down at the Bears' 5, but Mason Crosby's 23-yard field goal gave the Packers a 20-17 lead.
NOTES: The Bears' inactive players included Cutler and OLB Lance Briggs (shoulder). Chicago improved to 3-6 without Cutler since 2009, including 0-1 last season and a five-game losing streak in 2011. ... The Packers were without their starting outside linebackers for the third consecutive game. Clay Matthews, who missed his fourth consecutive game, had the pins removed from his broken thumb Monday. He hopes to play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Also inactive for the Packers were OLB Nick Perry (foot) and TE Jermichael Finley (neck). ... Green Bay lost another outside linebacker, Andy Mulumba, to an ankle injury in the second quarter. That left them with just Neal and sixth-round rookie Nate Palmer at the position. ... Green Bay starting RG T.J. Lang missed the second half with a concussion. ... The defeat ended the Packers' six-game winning streak against Chicago, their 11-game home winning streak against NFC North foes and their 17-game home winning streak in regular-season games played on Nov. 1 or later in the year. ... The Bears improved to 6-5 in the teams' matchups on "Monday Night Football."