Dec 16, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji (90) warms up before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Packers At Bears Aftermath: Your 2012 NFC North Division Champion Green Bay Packers

The 10*-4 Green Bay Packers defeated the 8-6 Chicago Bears 21-13 to become your 2012 NFC North Division Champions today in Chicago.

The Packers played their usual bend-but-don’t-break defense and had enough good plays on offense to win the game. In the grand scheme of things I guess it doesn’t matter how the Packers win, but I’m still waiting for another beat-down of a good team like in the Texans game so long ago.

Early in the game it looked as if the Packers would end up on the short end of this one. They came alive in the second quarter and the defense saved them from several would-be fatal mistakes. They can’t count on that to happen again. Elimination of the mistakes has to be their emphasis over the next two weeks and in the playoffs.

Chest Bumps and Thumps from this one:

Dec 16, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields (37) is congratulated by free safety M.D. Jennings (43) for breaking up a pass to Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) during the second half at Soldier Field. The Packers beat the Bears 21-13. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Chest Bump - to Sam Shields. His coverage was solid. He managed to get the better of Alshon Jeffery on most of the calls. He came up big in another Bears game. Nice work 37!

Thump - to the play call on the Cobb special teams gadget play. Whoever made that decision needs to be psychologically evaluated. If there has ever been a good time to make that call, and I’m not convinced there ever has, it certainly was not when it was called in this game. Credit the Packers defense for holding the Bears to only 3 points after that horrible call!

Chest Bump - to Clay Matthews. Five tackles and two assists. Two sacks. Several hurries. One knocked down pass. And one entirely forgettable sack dance. Nice to have you back 52. Seriously Clay…the sack dance initially had everybody laughing pretty hard at Tailgators, but when the reality of what you did set in I think several of us threw up in our mouths a little.

Fatal Thump - to Mason Crosby. I’m sorry. I’m a Crosby supporter. I thought he could work his way out of the slump, and indeed I thought he had done so. But sloppy surface at Soldier Field or no, I think Crosby’s performance in this game was the last straw.

Chest Bump - to the Packers run defense. Holding the Bears to 83 yards net rushing (and 190 total yards!) will get you a chest bump every time.

Thump - for the first half start. Seriously guys – what’s with the slow starts the last several weeks? Why make things harder on yourselves than they already are? Please come out and assert yourselves just for practice soon because that crappy start stuff won’t fly in the playoffs.

Chest Bump - to James Jones. Great job by 89 with the hat trick. Three TD catches, each one better than the last. Jones had a drop early in the game but his overall performance (5 catches for 60 yards and 3 TDs) was the difference-maker in this one.

Thump - for the penalties. The Packers were once again penalized more than their opponents in this game. OK … so take away the 53 yard DPI call on Burnett and their yardage comes out far less than Chicago’s total, but both teams were making big mistakes in pass D. The Packers have got to stop making mistakes before the snap. False starts and delays of game are completely avoidable and preventable errors. Fix them!

Dec 16, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley (88) makes a catch against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field. The Packers beat the Bears 21-13. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Chest Bump - to Jermichael Finley. J Mike had his best game this season. 5 catches for 61 yards and a long of 31, which was a thing of beauty consisting of a bunch of YAC. So was Finley motivated by the team’s need for him to produce a performance fitting for a start TE in the biggest game of the year, or was it a certain columnist’s take on his future? Whatever caused it he came up big against the Bears today. Can we count on him to do it again this season? I sure hope so!

Thump - to Ryan Grant. The play during which Ryan Grant caused seismographs all over the world to register Packer Nation’s collective groan started out nicely. EDS was in the backfield to block on the right side and Grant had a nice opening to scamper through. He took advantage of it and started to go back toward the left, but Peanut Tillman did what Peanut Tillman does – knocking the ball out of Grant’s grasp and causing the groan heard around the planet. The Bears got nothing out of it but Grant has got to keep that from happening.

Chest Bump – to B.J. Raji. B.J. dropped it on Forte for no gain a couple of times in this game. He’s another player who always seems to have his best games against Chicago, and he had one today. Officially credited with only one tackle in the game, Raji disrupted several running plays and was a force rushing up the middle consistently. Nice job 90.

Chest Bump – to Randall Cobb. Randall Cobb broke the Packers all-time single-season combined yardage record in this game. With several clutch grabs and totals of 6 catches for 115 yards and a long of 31 yards, Cobb kept drives, and Rodgers, alive several times. One has to wonder how long he can continue to take shots like the one he took on the punt return in the fourth quarter though. The gadget play pass wasn’t commendable, but I don’t think that was his fault.

Thump – to Brad Jones. Jones had a decent stat line (6 tackles 2 assists) in the game and played stout run defense but his whiff of Marshall allowed Marshall to score his TD. It would have been a better stat line at 7-2 but as it turned out I think Jones’ overall contribution probably overshadowed his glaring missed tackle.

Thump and a Bump - Casey Hayward for first getting stiff armed (easily it seemed) by Marshall on his way to a TD after Jones whiffed on his tackle. Later he finished on his INT opportunity – picking Cutler off and returning 12 yards to the 26 to set up the Packers second TD.

Collective Chest Bump – to the Green Bay Packers 2012 NFC North Division Champions. The football gods have thrown an awful lot of challenges at the Packers this year. They used perseverance, dedication, and overall team character to overcome. Congratulations!  

Here are the marginally insightful and mildly entertaining tweets I broadcasted during the game – last ones listed first. Scroll down to read from the beginning of the game. I think they frame the comments made above. And nobody has told me they don’t want to see them any more either. Review them at your peril:

– Not a pretty one but a W is a W. So Packers own Central Division for 2012. More later on . Go PACK!

– Nice work by Masthay to bury Bears at their own 2 yard line. One more job for Pack D.

– Shields non-PI, even if it was PI, was payback for horrible helmet to hands call earlier in the game. Karma incarnate.

– Sam Shields clutch defense on 4th down! Nice work 37…thanks from a grateful Packer Nation.

– Jeffery needs a little bit of remedial instruction on how not to get clear of a defender. (His third OPI call against Shields).

Dec 16, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) reacts after the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The Green Bay Packers defeat the Chicago Bears 21-13. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

– Clay bats one. Just don’t do that dance again 52!

– Dammut…3rd and 3 and they go long downfield pass? Let’s just give the game to the Bears and stop screwing around.

– Bears D starting to look a little tired. Run it down their throats.

– Harris looking strong again on the run. Where has he been?

– So what Troy…it WAS a penalty. Shut your pie hole. They call that every week in the wonderful new NFL. Adapt or die. (Troy Aikman didn’t like the roughing call on Peppers. I didn’t like it either, but get used to it).

– Another nice stop by defense to hold Bears to 3 again. No more freaking gadget plays! Just run the ball!

– Jeffery had Shields in his grasp the entire time the ball was in the air. Nice non-call refs! (near pick by Shields against Jeffery).

– Worst. Call. Of. The. Year! (the pass on the punt return…duh!).

– Who called that horrible gadget play on the punt return? Can we blame that on Crosby too?

– OK…so what are we calling Claymaker’s new sack dance? (Clay sacks Cutler on 2nd and 17 and “dances”).

– Raji playing with some fire today. He’s having a good game against the Bears.

– That’s a fork sticking out of Crosby. Pack can’t possibly look upon his performance today as anything other than the last straw.

– Rodgers runs…hearts leap into throats. Didn’t pick up the first either. And then Crosby doinks. He’s done.

– Nice catch by 85 to pick up most of holding call penalty. (picks up 14 yards out of the 20 needed for a first).

– Finley with another clutch catch and YAC. He’s having his best game in months. Thanks again McGinn!

– That was a nice play to Jones for the first though. I can’t stay mad at Aaron for long!

Dec 16, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) drops back to pass against the Chicago Bears during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

– Rodgers needs to either throw the ball or take off…plays taking way too long to develop.

– 21-10 going into the 4th quarter. Pack O can put it away with a time-consuming drive here.

– Great clutch stand by Packers D to hold Bears to 3. Now Pack O needs a nice LONG drive.

– OPI FINALLY called on a receiver against Sam Shields! Sweet redemption! (Jeffery with OPI again).

– Great line. RT @Zathras3: Shields gets the true “illegal face to the hands” penalty.

– DPI on Burnett but pass wouldn’t have been caught if he hadn’t done it. Dammut!

– You tell him Sam! Refs with another crappy call. Nice! (the uncalled facemask but called DPI was glaring bad).

– That groan from Packer Nation registered on Richter scales around the planet. Grant with the fumble. OK D…get it back. (Grant’s run looked great until he lost the football).

– Rodgers with the avoidance and a nice throw to Cobb but he’s GOT to get rid of the ball faster than that!

– Rodgers wants that one back! Way too close to a pick. (two Bears players had hands on a deflected pass but no INT).

– Thank you Randall Cobb for holding on to that punt while you nearly had your block knocked off!

– Neal assist by Moses with the sack and Cutler with the woozy walk back to the sidelines. (Culter slow to get up and slower to walk back to the bench).

– Uecker calls it “juuuust a bit overthrown” by Cutler on 2nd and 11. (Cutler’s second worst throw of the day. The first was Hayward’s pick)

– Wait…was all that ugly substitution confusion on purpose? To throw the Bears off? Is MM that crafty? Either way I liked the result.

– Rodgers with another TD dime to Jones. Three TDs for each and Pack up 21-7. Come on D…put this one away!

– Wow how do they look this confused and poiseless? (Substitutions looked absolutely nutty).

– DPI in the end zone. We’ll take it! (DPI against Finley)

Dec 16, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) is tackled by Chicago Bears Joe Anderson (19) during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

– Nice play on fourth down by Cobb but never should have had to go there. (the fourth and six catch).

– Mike…this might be news to you, but Kuhn diving on 3rd and 6 is guaranteed not to get the first down!

– Is anybody else tired of watching Newhouse getting beat and Rodgers running for his life because of it?

– That was ugly but a first is a first is a first as they say.

– Finley actually having a decent day today. Thanks McGinn!

– DuJuan Harris! Nice first play of the second half baller! (Harris carries for 21 on the first play of the second half).

– Jones with his second TD pass from Rodgers. 14-7 at the half and Packers get ball first in second half. Fired up Packers fans? We are here!

– If Cutler wasn’t an intermittently decent QB there’d be a contract out on him in Chicago just for his surly prima donna personality. (Cameras show Cutler’s histrionics on the sideline. Not much of a team guy).

– Hayward picks Cutler off…Cutler shakes his head. Cutler threw it right to Hayward. Beautiful!

– Nice 3 and out by Pack D. We need another TD and then one on the first possession of the second half. How about it Pack O?

– That’s the way to bring it back! Nice job by Rodgers to Jones for the TD. Perfect pass!

– AWESOME play by Rodgers to get that ball downfield and by Cobb to grab it.

– Nice job by Jennings fighting for YAC. (Jennings catch on the sidelines and YACs for an additional 10 yards).

– Love the “Hello” commercial. Hate being behind the Bears. Especially hate being behind the Bears in NFC North Title game. Come on Packers! (The commercial with the high school RB who flips over the defender is entertaining).

– And the bad tackling comes into it too. Marshall scores. Pack fans seething. (Jones whiff, Hayward stiff armed…Marshall scores).

– Don’t they teach these guys to disengage from blocks at the line? Why was Walden shoving that lineman around? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (Walden called for facemask while he’s engaged for several seconds with the OL. The phonetic alphabet can be  fun and useful.)

– Forte delivered the blow to Jennings on that run. Gotta respect it. (Forte got loose and drove his shoulder through Jennings to close the play).

– Crosby misses. So much for the high scoring predictions. (FG attempt wasn’t even close).

– Cobb drops one? Really? Is anything going to work in this freaking game?

– I swear if they throw the ball on 4th and 1 ever again I’ll sell my stock n move to Lithuania or something. Yes it worked. No I didn’t like it. (Pass on 4th down works but WTF on the call? Why not RUN the ball or try to draw them offsides? And even in Lithuania I would probably still be a Packers fan.)

– 3rd and 1…and the Packers kill their own drive again with 14 guys on the field.

– Nice pass to Cobb for 30!

– Welcome back Claymaker…even if you had some help on that sack!

– Sack saves the day and stops the Bears. Bush kills field position with a needless hold. Nice.

– End of 1st qtr no score but Bears moving and Packers reeling. Pack D needs to tighten and Pack O needs to run the ball.

– Another sack of Rodgers. He’s holding too long and not moving out of the pocket when he should. His frustration is showing too.

– So far…yet another ugly one. When will the Packers play another dominant game?

– Raji drops it on Forte…nice stop.

– Thank you Tim Masthay…you’re obviously willing to do what it takes to win this one. How about the rest of you Packers? (Masthay makes the tackle on the punt return).

– That possession looked worse than the first one. Packers will not be gifted this game by the Bears. (Packers 3 and out after the penalty)

– Thank you Bears for a free first down. We’ll take those all day too! (Bears have too many men on field for punt giving the Packers the ball back).

– Not a good looking pass by Rodgers. Now it’s up to the punt coverage team.

Dec 16, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Alex Green (20) rushes the ball against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field. The Green Bay Packers defeat the Chicago Bears 21-13. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

– We’ll take 6 yards on every run all day long! (Green carries up the middle).

– Nice moves by Rodgers to get the first 1st down.

– C’mon Don…no room for that FS stuff down here (false start on Barclay deep in Packers territory).

– Nice to have you back Sam Shields! (knocks ball away from Jeffery on third down- the first of many times).

– Pack D looks like last week’s Pack D. Like they’ll be down 14-0 in no time.

– Run D better be better than that or this will be a long game!

– Crosby delivers…no way for Hester to hurt the Packers if he can’t return the KOs.

Want to see these every week? Let me know.

With regard to the Fearsome Predictions I made prior to the game, I’ll need yet another mulligan. I went O-for. As in not a single one was correct. Goose egg. Most weren’t close. I’ll throw myself on the mercy of the Packer Nation court this week. But I’m going to keep making them. Somebody stop me!

The Green Bay Packers are your NFC North Division Champions for 2012. They got it done. They’re in the playoffs. Next up are the Titans at Lambeau. After that they visit the Vikings to see if they can keep Adrian Peterson from setting a new single season rushing mark. Both games will be important – especially if the Patriots beat the 49ers Sunday night. That’s a better problem to have than trying to get into the playoffs though!

Bring on the Titans! Go Pack GO!

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