Mitchell Trubisky threw for two touchdowns, Eddie Jackson ended Aaron Rodgers’ NFL-record streak without an interception and the Chicago Bears clinched the NFC North with a 24-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
The Bears (10-4) secured their first playoff appearance since the 2010 team won the NFC North, and clinching with a rare victory over their heated rivals made it all the more sweet.
The loss coupled with Minnesota’s 41-17 victory over Miami keeps the Packers out of the postseason for the second year in a row.
Chicago had dropped nine of 10 against Green Bay (5-8-1). But the Bears secured their first trip to the playoffs in eight years with their seventh win in eight games.
For a team that came into the season with four straight last-place finishes, it’s quite a turnaround. But with the hiring of coach Matt Nagy and trade for Khalil Mack in a busy offseason, the Bears made a huge jump.
“We’ve accomplished a lot,” Trubisky said. “But I think I’m most proud of just the type of guy that we have in our locker room, the culture that we’ve kind of created. We know that nobody really believed in us on the outside in the preseason — or even throughout the season. But we knew what type of team we had. And we knew we were just gonna keep getting better every single week.”
Trubisky gave them a 21-14 lead early in the fourth quarter with a 13-yard pass to Trey Burton in the left side of the end zone.
After stopping the Packers, Tarik Cohen returned a punt 44 yards to the 15. But he stepped out of bounds a yard short on a third-and-5 at the 10 when he easily could have gotten the first down.
That forced the Bears to settle for a field goal by Cody Parkey, making it 24-14 with 6:43 remaining.
The Packers then drove to the 9, but on third down, Jackson picked off Rodgers, ending his streak at 402 passes.
The throw over the middle was intended for Jimmy Graham near the goal line. But the ball got tipped to Jackson, who had to be helped off the field with a sprained right ankle after his leg bent awkwardly as he tried to slide on the return. The interception was his sixth of the season.
Mason Crosby kicked a field goal in the closing seconds to make it a seven-point game. But Chicago recovered the onside kick.
The Packers are 1-1 since offensive coordinator Joe Philbin replaced fired coach Mike McCarthy on an interim basis.
“The expectation is competing for championships,” Rodgers said. “It’s a good football team. But like I told some of the guys, I look forward to the battles over the years. I like our chances in this division moving forward.”
Mack had 2½ sacks and Leonard Floyd added two. The defense came through with another strong effort after the Monsters of the Midway shut down Jared Goff and the NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams the previous week.
Trubisky was 20 of 28 for 235 yards with a 120.4 rating. It was a big improvement over the previous week when he matched a career high with three interceptions after missing back-to-back games because of a right shoulder injury.
Cohen caught a touchdown pass. Jordan Howard ran for a TD, and the Bears improved to 7-1 at home for the first time since 2005.
“Understanding situational football, understanding what we were going against,” Mack said. “Guys grinded, gritted it out, especially toward the end. We just want to keep this feeling going.”
Rodgers said his groin tightened on him throwing a desperation pass at the end of the first half. He finished 25 of 42 for 274 yards with his second interception of the season and failed to throw a touchdown for the first time this year.
Davante Adams had eight receptions for 119 yards.
The Packers fell to 0-7 on the road with their ninth straight loss away from home, and their eight-game win streak at Soldier Field, counting the postseason, came to an end.
Packers: RT Bryan Bulaga (knee) missed his second game in a row, while DL Kenny Clark sat out with an elbow injury. … RB Aaron Jones left the game with a knee injury in the first quarter. … WR Randall Cobb was evaluated for a concussion following a hard hit by Jackson late in the game.
Bears: LB Aaron Lynch left with an elbow injury in the third quarter. He walked off the field clutching his right arm after he was hurt fighting a block on a run by Jamaal Williams.
Packers: Visit New York Jets on Dec. 23.
Bears: Visit San Francisco on Dec. 23.