Bears playoff hopes dim with loss to Packers

Chicago's chances at making the playoffs took a big hit today after losing at home 21-13 to the Green Bay Packers. The Bears no long control their own fate in the NFC.

Brandon Marshall was so choked up he couldn't find the right words. Then, in a flash, he bolted.

The Chicago Bears are just about out the door, too.

Their fading playoff hopes took another big hit Sunday, and this time, it was their archrivals delivering it.

Aaron Rodgers connected with James Jones on all three touchdowns, Clay Matthews sacked Jay Cutler twice and the Green Bay Packers beat Chicago 21-13 to clinch the NFC North championship.

The loss was the fifth in six games for the Bears after a 7-1 start, and a playoff bid that appeared to be a lock not too long ago is looking more like a long-shot now. Even if they win at Arizona and Detroit, they'll need help to get in.

This one clearly shook Marshall.

"Everyone involved in this offense should be held accountable, even if that means jobs," he said. "Everyone on offense should be held accountable. It's been this way all year. There's no excuse. We still have two games left. There's still hope, but at the same time, we need to be held accountable."

The Bears' managed just 190 yards, their third-lowest total of the season, so it wasn't hard to see why Marshall went off. As strong as his words were, though, his actions really told the story.

He glared. His eyes welled. His voice cracked, too.

"It's very frustrating," he said. "You can see it on my face right now, self-explanatory."

There was a long pause. Then, he said, "Next question."

He was asked why the offense is struggling, and he responded, "It's been the same way all year."

He again talked about accountability and then added, "I've got to try my best to keep it together and not let this affect me, because it's starting to affect me more than it should."

"I love this game," he continued. "I'm very passionate about this game and right now, it's affecting me way too much. I'm trying my all to do my job. So ... that's it."

With that he left the podium and walked quickly out of the interview room.

The loss was the Bears' sixth straight to the Packers, and it came after a week in which both teams talked trash. Marshall was particularly vehement, saying he'd never disliked a team as much as he did the Packers, and the Bears' Lance Briggs called Jermichael Finley "an idiot" for suggesting Chicago is better off without the injured Brian Urlacher.

The Packers backed it up, with Rodgers finishing 23 of 36 for 291 yards, while the Bears simply stalled again.

"The whole thing was Marshall," Packers cornerback Sam Shields said. "Marshall is (Cutler's) big target. Shut him down. Take him out of the game and see results."

Marshall had a 15-yard TD catch but just six receptions for 56 yards overall. But Cutler had another dismal day against the Packers, throwing for just 135 yards and an interception that led to Green Bay's second touchdown. Alshon Jeffery was whistled for three offensive pass interference calls in the second half, and the Bears were booed throughout the game.

They really heard it as they walked off the field.

"We're down," Cutler said. "We're not out. There are two games left. We need to remind guys of that — there's two games left, a lot of football."

Held to 24 yards on two catches to the Packers in September, Marshall sidestepped one tackle and stiff-armed Casey Hayward on his way to the end zone for a touchdown that gave Chicago a 7-0 lead in the second quarter. He screamed and tossed the ball into the stands while the Chicago sideline erupted in high fives and hand slaps.

The Packers quickly quieted the Bears and their fans with a touchdown, interception and another TD, all in a three-minute span.

Rodgers threw a dart to Randall Cobb, who hauled it in for a 31-yard gain that put the Packers at the Chicago 35. Three plays later, he connected with Jones for a 29-yard score that tied the game at 7.

After exchanging punts, Cutler was looking for Devin Hester but threw one right to Hayward, instead. It was the sixth pick of the season for the rookie, who grabbed the ball at midfield and returned it 24 yards. That led to an 8-yard scoring pass from Rodgers to Jones, making it 14-7 at halftime, and they connected for a 6-yard TD on the opening drive of the second half to make it 21 unanswered points.

"It's never over until that last, 16th, game is over. That's how this locker room feels. We've got to find a way for these next two games and see what happens," Cutler said.


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