Two of the most historic franchises in the NFL face each other in week four of the 2017 season on Thursday Night Football. The Chicago Bears head to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers in the first divisional game for each team. With the teams meeting a league-high 194 times, the series is evenly split at 94 wins apiece(to go along with six ties). After sweeping the Bears in two meetings last year, the Packers look to lead the series for the first time in the history of the oldest NFL rivalry.
Throwback Thursday: Green Bay Packers Host the Chicago Bears In Oldest NFL Rivalry
The Packers have won 12 of the last 15 games against the Bears, including one meeting in the NFC title game. The Packers have had difficulty with the Bears at home in recent years though, losing two of the last four in Lambeau. The first came during the 2013 season when former Bears defender Shea McClellin broke Aaron Rodgers‘s clavicle and Seneca Wallace was forced into action.
The latter was just as painful as the Packers lost during the game where Brett Favre was enshrined into the Green Bay Hall of Fame and Rodgers was at full health. Seeing as these teams play each other so frequently, the focus of this edition of Throwback Thursday will be on the games hosted by the Packers.
First Home Game
The first game between these two teams took place in Chicago in 1921. Two years later the teams played in Green Bay with the game taking place at Bellevue Park under the coaching of the great Curly Lambeau. It was the equally imposing George Halas that attained the victory in this meeting though. The game was decided by a mere field goal in the second quarter to lead the Bears over the Packers for the second time in as many meetings.
The Bears would have the early advantage in their head-to-head meetings with the Packers, winning five of the next eight meetings between the teams (two games ended in a tie). Green Bay’s first victory didn’t come until 1925 when the Packers won 14-10 in the former City Stadium which would be come to known as the historic Lambeau Field.
Most Pivotal Matchup
This is a tough one with so many meetings to choose from but the 2010 NFC Championship had the most on the line and most to gain from either side. Aaron Rodgers traveled to Chicago to face the second-seeded Bears led by quarterback Jay Cutler. It was a game that would define both quarterbacks for years to come. After impressive offensive performances for each team in their respective divisional round games, it was the two defenses that made this game so intriguing.
Rodgers drove the Packers down the field on their opening drive, scoring with a dive towards the pylon in the game’s first minutes. After several unimpressive drives by Cutler, the Packers added on to their lead with a five yard touchdown run by James Starks. The Packers went into halftime with a commanding 14-0 lead.
After halting the Bears on their first possession of the second half, Rodgers and company got to work again. After getting the team into scoring position yet again, Rodgers threw a costly pick to middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. Rodgers then made one of the best and most memorable plays of his career when he made the touchdown saving tackle on Urlacher.
After the pick, the Bears were forced to take Cutler out of the game. Veteran journeyman Todd Collins entered the game and was held without a completion over two drives. Realizing the game was quickly getting out of hand, head coach Lovie Smith switched to third-year pro Caleb Hanie.
Hanie drove the team down the field on his first drive. The Bears finally got on the scoreboard with a one yard touchdown plunge by Chester Taylor. With the Packers offense going stagnant in the second half, Hanie got the ball back with a chance to tie the game with six minutes remaining. Defensive behemoth B.J. Raji then made the biggest play of his career, intercepting Hanie at the ten yard line and returning the pick for a touchdown.
Hanie was able to engineer another scoring drive after the pick-six but couldn’t complete the comeback. Cornerback Sam Shields secured a final turnover on the Bears’s last possession to secure the only Super Bowl berth of the Rodgers era.
Last Meeting at Lambeau
Last season’s tilt at Lambeau was a fairly ugly affair. With a slow first half that saw Bears’s quarterback Brian Hoyer exit the game, the Packers held a 6-3 lead at halftime. Ty Montgomery and Davante Adams rallied the offense with over 100 all purpose yards apiece. Rodgers finished with three touchdowns in the second half to secure a 26-10 victory. There were troubling signs illustrated in the win that would be exploited in later games against the Packers.
After advancing to 4-2 with the win over the Bears, the Packers then lost six straight games. Rodgers was forced to throw 56 passes in the victory, setting the franchise-record for completions with 39. The Packers had little semblance of a run game and became one-dimensional.
Further, this was the first game after running back Eddie Lacy was placed on injured reserve and Montgomery took over as the starting tailback. Although the Packers squeaked past the Bears in that Thursday night affair last year, they lost all momentum from the first half of the season. The hope is that the Packers will be able to build on their win against the Cincinnati Bengals and move to 3-1 with a victory over the Bears.
Significance of Week Four Game
The Bears head to Lambeau for their first matchup with the Packers this season, and both team’s first divisional game. With both teams coming off narrow victories in week three, going 1-0 in the division would give each team some serious momentum before having a generous ten days off until they play again.
The Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions also play each other this week. The Packers, Vikings, and Lions all enter the week 2-1 with the Bears not far behind at 1-2. The winners from each matchup will take an early step towards a NFC North crown. The Packers have won the division five times in the last six years while the Bears have been stuck in the cellar. The Bears did beat an impressive Pittsburgh Steelers team last week while the Packers barely escaped the lowly Bengals in overtime. With a Bears win in week four, the Packers will truly be put on notice and have an uphill battle the rest of 2017.
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