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Game recap: 5 takeaways from Packers' victory over Bears

Green Bay takes over as all-time winningest NFL franchise

Packers running back AJ Dillon reacts after a 21-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
Packers running back AJ Dillon reacts after a 21-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

The Packers had to come from behind Sunday, but they did so to earn a 28-19 victory over the Bears at Soldier Field.

Here are five takeaways from Green Bay's fifth triumph of the season:

1. This one did not look good early.

The Bears got a 24-yard completion to Equanimeous St. Brown that led to a field goal, a 55-yard TD run from quarterback Justin Fields, and a 56-yard bomb to St. Brown to set up a David Montgomery TD run all in the first quarter and a half to take a 16-3 lead.

The Packers were playing uphill the rest of the way, but they limited Chicago's big plays thereafter and made plenty of their own in the fourth quarter – a 21-yard TD run by AJ Dillon and a 46-yard end-around by Christian Watson the biggest highlights – to get the win.

"I know it wasn't always pretty, but our guys stuck together and we found a way," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said.

2. Watson just continues to ball out.

The second-round draft pick scored twice to give him eight touchdowns in his last four games, becoming the first rookie receiver with eight TDs in a four-game stretch since Randy Moss in 1998, and the first rookie regardless of position since Clinton Portis in 2002 (according to Elias Sports Bureau).

Watson's first TD got the Packers back in the game, coming on fourth-and-4 from the Chicago 14-yard line with just 17 seconds left in the first half. LaFleur eschewed the field goal believing the Packers were going to need a lot of points to win, and the gutsy call and contested catch in the end zone got Green Bay within 16-10.

Then his second TD, the 46-yard end-around, was the clincher. The Packers were looking to burn the last 2:52 off the clock, up 20-19.

Watson caught a 19-yard pass to start the drive, and then two plays later, just after the two-minute warning, took a handoff on the jet sweep and wasn't touched, going all the way down the sideline. He finished his day with 94 yards from scrimmage (three catches, 48 yards; one rush, 46) with the two TDs.

It's remarkable how far Watson has come from missing all of training camp, dropping a 75-yard TD on the first offensive snap of the season, and dealing with a hamstring injury and concussion, to become such a dynamic playmaker so quickly.

"It's a rapid, wild development," said quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who wound up 18-of-31 for 182 yards and a TD (85.7 rating). "It's hard to think about another player who goes from being kind of a here-and-there, minimal production to go-to type player, home-run player."

Watson also drew a 38-yard pass interference penalty on the first play of the fourth quarter two snaps before the 21-yard TD run by Dillon (18 carries, 93 yards; three catches, 26 yards) pulled the Packers within 19-17.

"It's so cool to see guys respond in these moments, and then once you see confidence, once he's gained confidence, to see him take off," LaFleur said of Watson. "Just really proud of him. He's a smart guy that works his tail off. It means a lot to him. I think it's cool to see the other guys, they have confidence in him as well. It's just a really cool story."

3. Speaking of confidence, the Packers had a ton of it on two key play calls late in the game.

First was the Watson end-around. LaFleur credited offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich for staying in his ear to dial it up, and when it was talked about during the two-minute warning, Rodgers thought they might score on it.

Just in case, he checked with LaFleur to see if he should tell Watson to give himself up if he broke free, so the Bears wouldn't get the ball back. But with Chicago having all three timeouts, LaFleur said go ahead and score. Lo and behold …

"It's a good play that we had queued up for a certain type of coverage," Rodgers said. "Pre-snap, we got the coverage so I was just trying to not screw that one up. Once I handed the ball off, I knew that something good was going to happen."

That made the score 26-19 with 1:51 left, and then LaFleur gambled to make it a two-score game by going for two points. Assistant QB coach and game management specialist Connor Lewis was in his ear about that one during a timeout, and the players on the sideline were all for it.

"Once our guys were like 'Hey, let's go for it,' that put me over the top," LaFleur said. "Because anytime that they're confident in what we're doing, that gives you confidence as a coach to make that call to put the game away."

A play-action fake allowed tight end Marcedes Lewis to leak uncovered into the end zone for an easy pitch-and-catch, putting the Bears in desperation mode.

"Once I heard that play call, it was like, 'Yep, that's it,'" Rodgers said, "and then Big Dog came wide open."

4. Jaire Alexander redeemed himself at the perfect time.

The Packers' top cover corner had given up the 56-yard completion to St. Brown in the first half, and then a 49-yarder to N'Keal Harry in the fourth quarter.

Fortunately, the second big play didn't cost the Packers, as the defense held firm from there, and then Dean Lowry blocked a 40-yard field-goal attempt, keeping the Bears' lead at just 19-17.

The Packers drove for a go-ahead field goal and needed the defense to preserve the 20-19 advantage.

Alexander turned what would've been a forgettable day into a more memorable one, stepping in front of St. Brown and picking off Fields' pass in Green Bay territory with 2:52 left.

"I just think that shows his mindset," LaFleur said. "He's going to go out there and compete, and sometimes he's going to take a chance and he might get beat on it, and that's just the way it rolls. As a corner, especially in this league, you have to have a short memory, and certainly I think Ja does. He goes out there and battles."

Added Rodgers: "He's a really, really talented player and at times I think he doesn't get a lot of work. So, he got a little bit of work today. But in the most important moments, he came up big."

Another interception, the first of Keisean Nixon's career, ended Chicago's last possession in the final minute. That capped a defensive effort that saw the Packers allow just three points over the Bears' final five drives following the rough start.

Fields threw for 254 yards and ran for 71, but the two late interceptions dropped him to a 75.7 rating and ruined his day.

See scenes from the Sunday matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Dec. 4, 2022.

5. Taking over the NFL's all-time wins lead was a nice ending to the day.

The Packers and Bears came into the day tied with 786 wins in their franchise's histories. Green Bay is the first to 787, and it marks the first time since 1921 that the Bears have not had at least a share of the league's all-time wins lead.

"It means a lot. I think that's part of the legacy," said Rodgers, who has had a lot of say in the takeover, going 24-5 in games he's started against Chicago. "You always want to leave the place you're at better than you found it and right now we flipped the all-time series, we flipped the all-time wins.

"I've had a lot of success against them, so I think in a few years you look back and you feel pretty good about your contributions to the rivalry."

The Packers also became the first team other than the Bears to own the outright all-time wins lead since the Buffalo All-Americans with 18 wins.

"It is pretty cool when you think about it," LaFleur said. "I mean, our team will go down in history."


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