NFC Title Game
After the Packers had survived against the Eagles in Philly, winning 21-16, and ran through the top-seeded Falcons in Atlanta, winning 48-21, the Packers were forced to go into Chicago and play their hated rival for a third time in the 2010 season. This is probably one of the greatest games between the Packers and Bears, simply because a trip to the Super Bowl was on the line.
Unlike the season finale in Green Bay, the Packers had no trouble scoring to start the game. The Packers marched down the field, with two plays that had Rodgers and Jennings connecting for more than 20 yards on each play. After a 22-yard pass to Jordy Nelson, and James Starks being stopped at the one yard line, Rodgers ran it into the end zone for the Packers’ first score of the day. On defense the Packers looked good allowing only one first down, and forcing a 3-and-out in the first quarter.
Like the first quarter, the Packers got into the end zone on their first offensive possession in the second quarter. After only five plays, and less than three minutes, Starks scored on a four-yard touchdown run, to put the Packers up 14-0. During the second quarter the Packers defense looked decent, never allowing the Bears inside the 30 yard line. With only 49 seconds left in the half, the Bears attempted to put points on the board. After a 17-yard run by Matt Forte, Cutler not only was intercepted by rookie corner Sam Shields, but “injured” his knee on the play and would only play one more drive in the third quarter, before sitting out the remainder of the game.
The third quarter is where the Packers had their offensive struggles. On their first possession of the half, rather than scoring as they had on their previous quarter-opening drives, Rodgers was intercepted for the second time of the game. Thankfully, the defense had little trouble with backup quarterback Todd Collins, not allowing a complete pass and forcing two 3-and-outs on his first and only two drives.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, it seemed as if the game was locked up for the Packers to win, with a 14-0 lead, and the Bears playing their third-string quarterback. Even so, the defense could not seem to stop quarterback Caleb Hanie. On his first drive, Hanie led the Bears down the field and running back Chester Taylor gave the Bears a taste of life, with a one-yard touchdown run.
As the Bears still trailed 14-7 with 7:22 left in the fourth quarter, B.J. Raji danced his way into Packers history, on perhaps the most memorable play of the game, intercepting Hanie and returning it 18 yards for a touchdown. On the following drive, Hanie made up for his pick-six, throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass to receiver Earl Bennet, to bring the Bears back to within one touchdown.
After the Packers went 3-and-out on their next drive, the Bears began what would be their final drive of the game with 2:53 left. After starting on their own 29 yard line, Hanie led the Bears offense against a Packers defense that could not seem to get a stop. Finally, on a 4th and 5, at the Packers 29 yard line, Hanie threw a deep pass for Johnny Knox, but was intercepted by Sam Shields, his second interception of the game.
Rodgers took a knee and the Packers ran out the clock, sealing the NFC title, and a trip to the Super Bowl.