Aaron Rodgers tosses 6 TDs in first half as Packers rout Bears
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Hands stuffed into his pockets on a chilly night, Aaron Rodgers warmed up near the space heaters on Green Bay’s sideline. He smiled as he patted teammates on their helmets.
There was nothing much left to do in the middle of the third quarter on a record-setting night with the Packers leading NFC North rival Chicago by 38 points.
Rodgers threw six touchdown passes to tie the franchise game record and match the NFL mark for a half, and the Packers routed the reeling Bears 55-14 on Sunday.
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.
“We just kind of got things going our way,” Rodgers said. “The line did a good job of giving me time to extend plays. If you extend plays, you look down the field and there’s Jordy Nelson. He made some nice catches.”
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.
The 190th meeting of the NFL’s oldest rivalry turned into an old-fashioned blowout and Rodgers watched most of the second half from the sideline in a knit cap.
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 Lambeau Field.
“The game? Shoot, I don’t really have a whole lot to say,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “That was clearly our best football that we played this year.”
Both teams were coming off byes. The down time didn’t help the Bears, who have lost five of six to drop to 3-6.
Their season is turning into a nightmare, and their defense has fallen apart.
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.
“I’m confused, brother. I’m confused. … We’re just not very good right now,” receiver Brandon Marshall said. “It’s a shame to have to say that, but sitting at 3-6, it’s tough. It’s very, very, very disappointing.”
Embattled quarterback Jay Cutler had another night to forget at Lambeau Field with two first-half turnovers. He has thrown 12 interceptions in four career games in Titletown.
Cutler was 22 of 37 for 272 yards. 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.”
Rodgers could seemingly do no wrong with his six first-half touchdown passes.
“His statistics at halftime, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like that,” McCarthy said.
Rodgers connected with tight end Andrew Quarless on a 4-yard scoring strike with 3:53 left in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead.
The misery was only just beginning for the Chicago secondary.
Rodgers found Nelson for a 40-yard touchdown pass with 12:17 left in the second quarter. A screen pass to Eddie Lacy on Green Bay’s next possession turned into another catch-and-run for a 56-yard score and a five-touchdown lead.
About the only thing that went wrong for the Packers was when Cobb fumbled near the goal line after a 4-yard catch. The Bears recovered in the end zone — but even that play went awry for Chicago after Kyle Fuller was whistled for unnecessary roughness.
“I’m responsible for the play of this football team — and it’s not good enough right now. That’s where we are,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said.
Nelson had six receptions for 152 yards, while Cobb had 72 yards on four catches. He caught a touchdown pass for the sixth straight game.
Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers each had sacks. Peppers forced a fumble on his sack against his former team that he recovered at the Chicago 32, setting up another score.
The Packers’ league-worst run defense held Matt Forte to 54 yards on 17 carries. Matthews relished this performance after the defense had an embarrassing second-half letdown in the 44-23 loss to the Saints.
“So much emphasis is put on it,” Matthews said about improving defensively. “When we stopped their run and the way our offense was going, it was game over.”
The Bears snapped the shutout when Cutler connected with Marshall for a 45-yard touchdown pass with 7:44 left in the third quarter.
Marshall left in the fourth quarter with a left ankle injury.
*Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images