CHICAGO – The Chicago Bears clinched the NFC North and helped knock Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers out of playoff contention.
They could not have asked for a sweeter scenario.
Mitchell Trubisky threw for two touchdowns, Eddie Jackson ended Rodgers' NFL-record streak without an interception and Chicago clinched the division with a 24-17 victory over the Packers on Sunday.
The Bears (10-4) secured their first playoff appearance since the 2010 team won the NFC North. And even better for them, they did it with a rare victory over their rivals. Chicago had lost nine of 10 to Green Bay (5-8-1) and had lost its previous eight meetings with the Packers at Soldier Field, including the postseason.
"We've accomplished a lot," Trubisky said. "But I think I'm most proud of just the type of guy that we have in our locker room, the culture that we've kind of created. We know that nobody really believed in us on the outside in the preseason — or even throughout the season. But we knew what type of team we had."
The loss, coupled with the Vikings' 41-17 victory over Miami, keeps the Packers out of the postseason for the second year in a row.
"The expectation is competing for championships," Rodgers said after the Packers fell to 0-7 on the road. "It's a good football team. But like I told some of the guys, I look forward to the battles over the years. I like our chances in this division moving forward."
Said Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews: "Nobody anticipated this happening. In reality, we're not getting blown out every week. I'm trying to find a silver lining, that's all you can do at this point."
The Bears blew a 20-point lead in a season-opening loss at Green Bay, with an injured Rodgers rallying the Packers. But they have been climbing ever since, turning around with the offseason arrival of coach Matt Nagy and linebacker Khalil Mack following four consecutive last-place finishes.
"You could feel it all year long that we knew we had the talent," Nagy said.
Trubisky gave the Bears a 21-14 lead early in the fourth quarter with a 13-yard pass to Trey Burton in the left side of the end zone.
After stopping the Packers, Tarik Cohen returned a punt 44 yards to the 15. But he stepped out of bounds a yard short on a third-and-5 at the 10 when he easily could have gotten the first down.
That forced the Bears to settle for a field goal by Cody Parkey, making it 24-14 with 6:43 left.
The Packers then drove to the 9, but on third down Jackson picked off Rodgers, ending his streak at 402 passes.
"Guys grinded, gritted it out, especially toward the end," Mack said. "We just want to keep this feeling going."