Packers lead Bears 7-0 after 1st quarter
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers got the Green Bay Packers started right away, throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jermichael Finley to take a 7-0 lead over the rival Chicago Bears after the first quarter on Sunday night.
Rodgers needed nine plays to drive the Packers 80 yards on their first possession, including a 32-yard gain on a screen pass to Ryan Grant.
Finley had three touchdown catches in the Packers' 27-17 victory at Chicago on Sept. 25, but was coming off a rough outing in Green Bay's loss at Kansas City a week ago.
Playing with a patchwork offensive line because of injuries, the Packers used their no-huddle offense and bootlegs by Rodgers to keep the Bears' pass rush off balance early.
The Bears responded with a run-heavy drive featuring third-string running back Kahlil Bell, who started with Matt Forte and Marion Barber out injured. Chicago drove into Green Bay territory, then committed back-to-back penalties, and Robbie Gould missed a 49-yard field goal wide right.
The Packers came into Sunday night's game playing for the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.
Green Bay can clinch home-field advantage by beating Chicago on Sunday night or by beating Detroit in next Sunday's regular season finale at Lambeau Field, or if San Francisco loses at St. Louis next week.
The Packers were without three of their top four tackles on the offensive line.
Chad Clifton returned to practice this week after sitting out since October because of hamstring and back injuries, but isn't ready to play. Bryan Bulaga was inactive Sunday because of a left knee sprain, and backup Derek Sherrod is out for the season with a broken right leg.
Green Bay also was missing wide receiver Greg Jennings, because of a sprained left knee, and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett because of a concussion.
The Bears have lost four straight games since losing quarterback Jay Cutler to a broken right thumb in a Nov. 20 victory over San Diego. Chicago was 7-3 after that win, but came into Sunday's game barely hanging onto a chance to make the playoffs.
Chicago would be eliminated with a loss Sunday night.
The Bears started quarterback Josh McCown on Sunday night after backup Caleb Hanie struggled to fill in for Cutler. McCown's most recent start came with the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 23, 2007. He was completely out of the NFL last season.
To make matters worse for the Bears' offense, Barber was inactive because of a calf injury and was listed as doubtful going into the game. Chicago already was without Forte, who missed his third straight game because of a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
Chicago did have Devin Hester, who was active despite an ankle injury.
The Packers were trying for their fourth win over the Bears in 2011. Green Bay beat Chicago in the 2010 regular-season finale, the NFC Championship game, and at Soldier Field on Sept. 25.