GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers diagnosed the blown Chicago Bears coverage. Jordy Nelson caught the pass and slipped away from one defender. Randall Cobb waved his fellow receiver over in his direction so he could throw a block.
Touchdown Nelson from 73 yards out – the kind of back-breaking play that epitomized a milestone evening for the Green Bay Packers at the expense of their reeling division rivals.
It was one of six touchdown throws by Rodgers in a 55-14 rout Sunday night of the Bears, tying the franchise game record and matching the NFL mark for a half.
“Unbelievable. For him to do that, and to do it in the first half, is remarkable,” said Cobb, who caught an 18-yard score near the end of the second quarter.
Rodgers was 18 of 27 for 315 yards, throwing touchdown passes of 73 and 40 yards to Jordy Nelson to help the Packers (6-3) open a 42-0 halftime lead.
Just as important for the Packers is that they kept pace with Detroit to stay a game behind of the NFC North leaders. Three of Green Bay’s next four games are at home, where the Packers excel in the cold.
Luckily for Chicago (3-6), the Packers are off the regular-season schedule until next season. At this point, the Bears don’t really have to worry about meeting them in the playoffs again, either.
An already tough year took a nightmarish turn at Lambeau Field.
“I’m responsible for the play of this football team – and it’s not good enough right now. That’s where we are,” coach Marc Trestman said.
Some takeaways from a game that could have long-term repercussions for the Bears, who can only hope Sunday night represented rock-bottom for this year:
MILESTONE NIGHT: Rodgers tied the team touchdown pass record that he shared with Matt Flynn and matched the NFL mark for a half set by Oakland’s Daryle Lamonica in 1969.
A night full of milestones included Rodgers’ 16th scoring pass of 70 yards or more to break the record he shared with Denver’s Peyton Manning and Rodgers’ predecessor in Green Bay, Brett Favre. Rodgers looked just fine two weeks after tweaking his left hamstring in a loss to New Orleans.
The 55 points tied a Packers record at home.
JOB SECURITY: Chicago sports radio stations should be buzzing this week about the futures of Trestman and embattled quarterback Jay Cutler after a night to forget in Titletown.
Both teams were coming off byes. The down time didn’t help the Bears, who have lost five of six.
Cutler was 22 of 37 for 272 yards, though he had two interceptions and lost a fumble. His performance surely won’t ease the withering criticism back home in Chicago.
“We’re all look for answers right now,” Cutler said. “We really don’t have a lot of them.”
DEFENSELESS: Two weeks after giving up 38 points in the first half in a 51-23 loss to New England, the Bears set a dubious franchise record by giving up 42 points in a half.
Chicago had defensive end Jared Allen, who missed the teams’ first meeting in September. Lance Briggs played after missing three games with a rib injury, while fellow linebacker Jon Bostic also returned after missing three games with a back injury.
And yet the Bears just looked worse.
“We don’t need rah-rah speeches, we don’t need none of that stuff. This isn’t Pop Warner,” Allen said. “Nothing anybody says is going to change anybody the way anybody plays. This is your job, take some pride in it, show up, go to work and let’s get better.”
CLAMPED DOWN: The Packers’ defense rebounded nicely after a second-half letdown in a 44-23 loss to New Orleans before the bye. Clay Matthews had 11 tackles and one of the team’s four sacks. Julius Peppers forced Cutler to fumble on his sack, a turnover that helped set up one of the four second-quarter touchdowns.
Green Bay’s league-worst run defense held Matt Forte to 54 yards on 17 carries and harassed Cutler all night.
ON THE LINE: The big win made it easier for guards Josh Sitton (toe) and T.J. Lang (ankle) to endure any lingering pain from injuries that forced them to miss some practice time during the week.
They took it easy during breaks, walking back to the sideline slowly while teammates rushed toward the end zone for touchdown celebrations. On the way back, Rodgers made sure to greet the team’s two best linemen.
“We all have stuff we deal with from time to time, but those big guys don’t get enough credit and they deserve a lot tonight,” Rodgers said.