Bears lose 31-23 to Packers in Fox’s debut

Green Bay Packers receiver James Jones (89) catches a pass under pressure from Chicago Bears defensive back Alan Ball (24) during the first half an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO (AP) — Much of the day went according to plan for John Fox and the ChicagoBears.

Matt Forte touched the ball 29 times, helping the Bears keep Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay’s high-powered offense off the field.

Then the opener rolled into the fourth quarter, and Fox got a closer look at the biggest differences between his new team and the class of the NFC North.

Forte rushed for 141 yards and Robbie Gould kicked three field goals, but Rodgers threw for three scores to lead the Packers to a 31-23 victory on Sunday.

Jay Cutler threw a big interception in the final period as Chicago lost for the 10th time in its past 11 games against Green Bay.

“It’s really hard to pin this loss on one person or somebody or some area, and I’m not really big into that anyways,” Fox said. “Like I said at the beginning, I mean we didn’t play as good as we needed to play to beat that football team.”

Fox replaced Marc Trestman in January after the Bears stumbled to a 5-11 record, dropping their last five games. Ryan Pace also took over as general manager.

If the opener is any indication of Fox’s plans for his first season in Chicago, expect a lot of touches for Forte, a controlled, precise passing game and increased emphasis on preventing big plays on defense.

Forte had 24 carries and another five receptions. Cutler was 18 for 36 for 225 yards and a touchdown while throwing short and intermediate passes for most of the afternoon.

Rodgers managed just 189 yards passing in his lowest total against the Bears since he was knocked out of a 27-20 loss to Chicago on Nov. 4, 2013.

“This is a process, and this is the first time that myself and this staff have watched this team play a real game,” Fox said. “Hopefully we’ll learn from it and get better from it.”

Chicago trailed 17-16 before Green Bay put together a 16-play, 78-yard drive that lasted more than 9 1/2 minutes and culminated in Randall Cobb’s 5-yard touchdown reception with 10:26 left in the game. Cobb, who was hampered by a shoulder injury in the preseason, also had a big 9-yard reception on third-and-8.

The Bears marched right down the field on the ensuing possession, highlighted by a 50-yard, catch-and-run for Marquess Wilson to the Green Bay 16. But they turned it over on downs after Cutler misfired on three straight passes at the 2.

“Playing a team like that, you’ve got to play perfect football,” Forte said. “For us to be not only in the red zone, but inside the 5 and not be able to get it in the end zone for four downs was a huge blow.”

Cutler then threw an interception to Clay Matthews on Chicago’s next possession, putting Green Bay in great position with the ball on the Bears 48. A pass interference penalty on Kyle Fuller moved the ball to the 2, and Eddie Lacy rushed in on the next play for the clinching score.

“It definitely was tough. That’s what we expected,” Lacy said. “We didn’t just expect to come in and run through them, but we kept our composure. The time of possession wasn’t on our side, but we never got down. We just continued to fight.”

Cutler found Martellus Bennett for a 24-yard touchdown pass with 34 seconds remaining, but Green Bay (1-0) recovered the ensuing onside kick. Alshon Jeffery also had five receptions for 78 yards for the Bears in his return from a calf injury.

Rodgers threw two of his three touchdown passes to James Jones, who signed a one-year deal with Green Bay on Monday after he was cut by the New York Giants last weekend. Rodgers was 18-for-23 passing and has thrown for 15 TDs with just two interceptions in his past four games against Chicago (0-1) — all victories.

“We always talk about possessions, like we had to today,” Rodgers said. “We scored on five out of seven possessions. We had two kneel-downs possessions and two punts. We maximized our possessions today, which was important.”

NOTES: Gould’s first field goal of the day was No. 244 for his career, breaking a tie with Kevin Butler for the franchise record. … The Bears started two-time Pro Bowl RG Kyle Long at right tackle — a move that many saw coming after Jordan Mills got released a week earlier. Vladimir Ducasse started at right guard. … This was Forte’s fourth game with at least 141 yards and his highest output since he ran for 145 against Tampa Bay on Oct. 23, 2011. … Packers LB Sam Barrington sat out the second half because of an ankle injury. … Bears DL Cornelius Washington left with a right quad strain.

 

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