Chicago’s Josh McCown stepped up in the absence of the injured Jay Cutler and led the Bears to a 27-20 win over rivals Green Bay on Monday, while the Packers also lost a first-choice quarterback to injury, with Aaron Rodgers hurting his non-throwing shoulder.
The win snapped a run of six straight defeats for the Bears against the Packers, while Green Bay’s four-match streak also ended, but the far larger concern is over Rodgers, who hurt his left shoulder when he was sacked on Green Bay’s first series by Shea McClellin.
After being examined by medical staff he went to the locker room and emerged in the third quarter, waving to fans.
The win moves the Bears into a three-way tie for first in the National Football Conference North with Green Bay and Detroit, all at 5-3.
Green Bay have been hit hard by injuries, with James Jones (knee) returning on Monday after a two-game absence and sackmaster Clay Matthews (thumb) and tight end Jermichael Finley still out. Wide receiver Randall Cobb (leg) is also on the injured list-designated to return, but a hurt Aaron Rodgers is Green Bay’s ultimate nightmare.
With the 2011 NFL Most Valuable Player almost as durable as his predecessor Brett Favre — he has not missed a game due to injury since 2010 — a backup quarterback has been little more than an afterthought in Green Bay, but as the Bears demonstrated on Monday, quality understudies can be vital.
Chicago signed McCown when Cutler was hurt two years ago, and his familiarity with his receivers and coach Marc Trestman’s system was evident on Monday.
While he may not have been dazzling, going 22 for 41 for 272 yards, he mixed his passes effectively to Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte, and Forte ran roughshod on the Green Bay defense — scoring one touchdown.
Jeffery had five catches for 60 yards, including a six-yard grab for the go-ahead touchdown at the end of the third quarter.
Marshall, largely shut down in two games against Green Bay last year, had seven catches for 107 yards and a score. Forte ran for 125 yards and he also had 54 yards receiving.
Better yet, McCown did not do anything to hurt the Bears, which is more than Rodgers’ replacement Seneca Wallace can say.
Wallace had not played a game since the 2011 season finale and the rust was evident. He was intercepted on his very first series and was sacked twice.
The Packers had a second-and-goal from the Bears five-yard line late in the third quarter, but were forced to settle for a field goal after Wallace twice overthrew intended receivers. Green Bay would get no closer than the Bears 39 the rest of the game.
Wallace finished 11 of 19 for 114 yards and was unable to provide the passing game needed to complement another big night by Green Bay rookie Eddie Lacy, who ran for 150 yards and a touchdown.