The Chicago Bears defeated the Green Bay Packers on Monday night to leave both sides level with the Detroit Lions at the top of an intriguing NFC North division.
Josh McCown won the battle of the backup quarterback after he led the Bears to a 27-20 win, whilst standing in for the injured Jay Cutler. He faced up against Seneca Wallace, the former Browns and Seahawks veteran, who stepped in for the Packers when Aaron Rodgers limped off in the first quarter.
McCown was aided by two of the Bears most reliable stars: Brandon Marshall, who had seven catches for 107 yards and a touchdown, and Matt Forte, who ran for 125 yards and another score.
Indeed it was Marshall who got the Bears on the board with a 23-yard touchdown reception, but Matt Crosby’s field goal and James Starks’ spectacular 32-yard run into the end zone earned the home side a 10-7 first quarter lead.
Forte bundled in the Bears second score of the day, before Robbie Gould’s field goal made it 17-10 to the visitors at the break. But the Packers hit back early in quarter three, thanks to rookie running back Eddie Lacy going over for a touchdown, and a second Crosby field goal.
However, Chicago were not to be denied their success, as McCown threw his second touchdown pass, this time a six-yard effort to Alshon Jeffery, and Gould wrapped up the win, with his second field goal of the day the only score of the fourth quarter.
Wallace struggled throughout, managing just 11 completions for 114 yards and an interception. He was also sacked for a loss of 17 yards on one play as he tried to escape Julius Peppers.
This will hardly aid the Packers concerns over the health of Rodgers, who hurt his left, non-throwing shoulder when he was sacked on the game’s first series by Shea McClellin. Rodgers took a few warm-up throws but, after being examined by medical staff, he ran into the home locker room.
His injury has since been confirmed as a fractured collarbone. It will not require surgery, but his return date remains uncertain. Wallace will lead the Packers against the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday, with Scott Tolzien called into the roster as back-up.
Both sides’ now join the Lions, who were on a bye week this week, at a record of 5:3, leaving a fascinating fight in prospect for the one, possibly two, possibly three playoff places available depending on results elsewhere in the conference.
Victory for the Bears snapped their six-game losing streak against their divisional rivals, in a result which could prove vital to the Bears chances of capturing a playoff spot for the first time since 2010.
After opening the year with three victories, defeats to the Lions, New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins made it three losses in four matches ahead of their week eight bye, and memories of last year’s collapse from 7:1 to 10:6 will have been reverberating around the dressing room.
Therefore, beating the Packers away from home will come as a huge relief for Chicago ahead of hosting another divisional rival, Detroit, this weekend.
Elsewhere on a week of surprises in the NFL, the Cincinnati Bengals (6:3) fell to their first defeat in five matches as they were dramatically beaten by the Miami Dolphins (4:4) in overtime. After going into the extra period at 20 points apiece, October’s Player of the Month Andy Dalton was sacked in his own end zone by Cameron Wake. It was only the third time in NFL history a game has been won by a safety in overtime, and the first such occasion since 2004.
The New York Jets rebounded from their huge defeat against the Bengals last week to stun the New Orleans Saints 26-20, sending Drew Brees and co to only their second defeat of 2013.
Winless Tampa Bay came within minutes of defeating the Seattle Seahawks, but eventually gave up a 21-point lead to lose 27-24 in overtime, leaving Russell Wilson’s side second in the NFL at 8:1.
There was no surprise to be had for the Buffalo Bills against the league leaders however, as they fell to a 23-13 defeat against the Kansas City Chiefs, who move to 9:0 – the joint best start to a season in the franchise’s history.
It was also a weekend for record-breakers. Eagle’s back-up quarterback Nick Foles threw seven touchdowns in his side’s 49-20 thrashing of the Oakland Raiders, tying an NFL record and recording the 60th ‘perfect game’ in league history, with a passer rating of 158.3. Perhaps, in the process, he will have also gone some way to establishing himself as the side’s first choice lynchpin, while plunging the career of injury-plagued Michael Vick into further doubt.
Randy Bullock missed three field goals in a game for the second time this season, including a 55-yard attempt to tie the match in the final seconds as the Houston Texans lost 27-24 to the Indianapolis Colts, their sixth consecutive loss. After the game against the Colts, Bullock became the first NFL kicker since 1985 to have a field goal percentage less than 62 percent with at least 20 attempts.
Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger threw for 832 yards and eight touchdowns between them as New England defeated Pittsburgh 55-31, with the Patriots point’s tally the biggest ever scored against the Steelers. Rob Gronkowski also caught his first touchdown reception of the season, as he took a career high nine receptions for 143 yards.
The San Diego Chargers and the Washington Redskins were the third game of the weekend to go to overtime, and it was the latter that emerged victorious by a score of 30-24 – Robert Griffin III leading his team to a third victory in five matches.
Cleveland upset Baltimore 24-18 in an all AFC North clash, as the season of the defending Super Bowl Champions, now at 3:5, threatens to go out with a whimper.
Carolina continued their impressive run of results, as a 34-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons made it four wins on the bounce for the Panthers. It’s proving to be a miserable year in Atlanta however, with last year’s number one seed’s now at 2:6.
In the final two games of the weekend, the Dallas Cowboys stayed top of the NFC East with a last-gasp 27-23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, while the Tennessee Titans took advantage of Sam Bradford’s continued absence, defeating Kellen Clemens and the St. Louis Rams 28-21.
Full List of Week Nine Results:
Bengals 20 (at the) 22 Dolphins, Falcons 10 (at the) 34 Panthers, Vikings 23 (at the) 27 Cowboys, Saints 20 (at the) 26 Jets, Titans 28 (at the) 21 Rams, Chiefs 23 (at the) 13 Bills, Chargers 24 (at the) 30 Redskins, Eagles 49 (at the) 20 Raiders, Buccaneers 24 (at the) 27 Seahawks, Ravens 18 (at the) 24 Browns, Steelers 31 (at the) 55 Patriots, Colts 27 (at the) 24 Texans, Bears 27 (at the) 20 Packers, Bye Week – Cardinals, Broncos, Lions, Jaguars, Giants & 49ers.
Week Ten Fixtures:
Redskins (3:5) at the Vikings (1:7), Eagles (4:5) at the Packers (5:3), Jaguars (0:8) at the Titans (4:4), Bills (3:6) at the Steelers (2:6), Raiders (3:5) at the Giants (2:6), Rams (3:6) at the Colts (6:2), Seahawks (8:1) at the Falcons (2:6), Bengals (6:3) at the Ravens (3:5), Lions (5:3) at the Bears (5:3), Panthers (5:3) at the 49ers (6:2), Texans (2:6) at the Cardinals (4:4), Broncos (7:1) at the Chargers (4:4), Cowboys (5:4) at the Saints (6:2), Dolphins (4:4) at the Buccaneers (0:8), Bye Week – Browns, Chiefs, Patriots, Jets.
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