CHICAGO – Jaire Alexander stayed patient while waiting for his shot at redemption.
After conceding a 56-yard completion to former Packers teammate Equanimeous St. Brown in the second quarter of Sunday's game against Chicago, Alexander responded in the appropriate way – a game-altering interception of Justin Fields on a pass intended for St. Brown with less than three minutes left in regulation.
The takeaway, and corresponding Green Bay touchdown it helped generate, tipped the scale in the Packers' favor as they completed a 13-point comeback to beat the Bears, 28-19, in front of 61,233 at Soldier Field.
"It felt amazing," said Alexander of his team-leading fourth INT of the season. "I got to celebrate with the guys. I got to celebrate with the defense.
"Today, I got an interception in every NFC North opponent's stadium, so I felt freaking amazing. Just one step to the milestone I'm trying to get to."
Both Alexander and the defense got off to a shaky start, as Fields broke a 55-yard touchdown during a first quarter in which he ran for 71 total yards. The Bears went even bigger in the second quarter, though, as Fields found St. Brown for the 56-yard bomb.
On the play, Alexander said he got caught looking at Fields because he anticipated that St. Brown was running an out route. The former Packers receiver instead kept running downfield to get behind Alexander and the entire Green Bay secondary.
Alexander tackled St. Brown at the Green Bay 7, but David Montgomery punched in the touchdown on the next play to put the Bears up 16-3 with 6 minutes, 9 seconds left in the first half. Afterwards, Alexander said that play "woke up my inner beast."
That, and a spirited, but cordial, discussion with the Packers cornerbacks in the halftime locker room.
"Early in the game when I was just trying to make too many plays, I was just trying to change the game early," Alexander said. "I was too zen'd out for a minute. But we came in here in the locker room. They yelled at me. They said it was your fault you gave up that blown pass. I was like, 'All right, cool. Say less.'
"I took it. As a man, you gotta own up to what you're doing. So, I take it."
The tide turned for Green Bay during a second half in which the Bears rushed for just 61 yards on 12 carries, with Fields scrambling just once. A part of that could be contributed to the contact Green Bay made on the banged-up Bears quarterback, including defensive lineman Dean Lowry's hit on the deep ball to St. Brown.
Chicago, clinging to a 19-17 lead, threw one last haymaker in the fourth quarter with Fields completing a 49-yard pass to N'Keal Harry. Alexander thought for a second the play might have led to his first interception as he locked eyes with Fields and sensed a throw coming. Instead, Fields kept running and Harry carried his route downfield.
Strangely, for the first time in his football career, Alexander was actually looking at the video board as he tracked Harry downfield and saw Fields unload the pass.
"I was getting ready to pick it but then he held the ball and then ran somewhere," Alexander said. "As I'm running, I'm looking on the jumbotron and I'm like wow he really just threw it. I'm like, 'Oh snap.' That's the first time ever seeing a ball get thrown on the jumbotron while I'm running. It was crazy. It was crazy that he caught it."
See scenes from the Sunday matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Dec. 4, 2022.
The Packers picked Alexander up and the explosive play was all for naught. The defense held Chicago to an attempted 40-yard field goal, which Lowry blocked. Green Bay's offense mounted a 13-play drive that ended with a 32-yard Mason Crosby field goal to give the Packers their first lead of the game, 20-19, with 4 minutes, 49 seconds remaining.
From there, Alexander did the rest. The All-Pro cornerback stepped in front of St. Brown, secured the pick and returned the ball to the Green Bay 32. Three plays later, the Packers sealed their fifth win of the season with Christian Watson's 46-yard touchdown off a misdirection play. The 13-point deficit is the largest comeback Green Bay has ever mounted in Chicago
"That's just Ja. That's the league," safety Adrian Amos said. "You're going to win some. You're going to lose some (but) you don't get down. You gotta play the next snap, especially at DB. You have that mindset of get up and play the next play."
Alexander wasn't alone in the secondary takeaway department Sunday. In the second quarter, cornerback Rasul Douglas forced a fumble of Chase Claypool, which was recovered by safety Rudy Ford. After Watson's touchdown, fourth-year cornerback Keisean Nixon put an emphatic end to the game with his first career interception.
As for his own pick, Alexander was all smiles afterward – and explained his happiness as only Jaire Alexander can.
"Man, it was fire," Alexander said. "It was like putting on a freshly ironed T-shirt…from Wal-Mart."