<
>

Rapid Reaction: Packers 35, Bears 21

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The offense showed fight with quarterback Josh McCown at the controls, but ultimately the Chicago Bears wilted under a five-touchdown bombardment from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in a 35-21 loss.

Chicago’s fifth consecutive loss -- after winning five in a row from Oct. 16 to Nov. 20 -- ends any shot at the postseason, and the best the team can hope for right now is a .500 record.

Let’s dig into this disappointing loss, which puts the Bears on their worst losing skid under coach Lovie Smith:

What it means: The Bears are now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, meaning the team won’t make the postseason for the fourth time in the past five years. The club’s appearance in the 2010 NFC title game somewhat distorted what’s been a consistently underachieving organization over the past few seasons.

Obviously, injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte played major roles in this team’s collapse. Still it would certainly be fair for ownership to second-guess some of the personnel decisions and talent evaluations made by the front office; especially with regards to the team’s choice as a backup quarterback, and some of the moves in free agency.

A positive: The Bears put 21 points on the board after scoring 14 points or fewer for three consecutive games. The 14 points or fewer in three straight outings ranked as the team’s worst scoring production since Weeks 14-17 of the 2004 season.

With McCown at the helm, the Bears gained 441 yards on offense, which ranks as the most the team has churned out all season. Interestingly, the last time the Bears generated 350 yards or more of offense was Nov. 13, when Cutler was still the man under center.

Despite McCown’s two turnovers, perhaps he’s made a serious case to be given a shot at earning the team’s primary backup job. It would be easy to criticize the front office and coaching staff’s decision to go with Hanie initially after Cutler suffered the injury.

But it’s worth noting that McCown didn’t join the team until Nov. 23, which was just four days before Hanie made the start at Oakland. So even with three weeks to get totally immersed in Chicago’s offense, realistically, the earliest McCown would’ve likely been able to help might have been the Dec. 18 game against the Seattle Seahawks.

New year, please: By now, the Bears must be sick of losing to Green Bay. The Packers have downed the Bears four times in 2011, including Week 17 of the 2010 regular season, last season’s NFC title game, and two games this season.

Lovie’s longest: After rolling to a five-game winning streak from Weeks 6 through 11, the Bears have dropped five in a row for the first time since 2002. After falling 35-21 to the Packers, the Bears are currently on their longest losing streak under Bears coach Lovie Smith. In the 2002 season, under Dick Jauron, the Bears lost eight in a row from Weeks 3-11.

Secondary smoked: Rodgers bombed the Bears for 283 yards and five touchdowns on the way to generating a passer rating of 100 or better (142.7) for an NFL-record 13th time this season. The Bears hadn’t allowed a player to throw for five touchdowns since Kurt Warner did it on Nov. 8, 2009.

The Cardinals thumped the Bears 41-21 in that game.

What’s next: The Bears face the Minnesota Vikings on the road on Sunday.