Views from the Bleachers: Bears no match for Packers

It wasn’t until about half way through fourth quarter that a look of quiet desperation began to creep over Jay Cutler’s face. Maybe it was the way B.J. Raji glided into the end zone untouched. Maybe it was the 337-pound nose tackle’s celebration dance and donning of the “Aaron Rodgers belt.” Either way, things weren’t boding well for the Chicago Bears.

The fact is that Cutler couldn’t do anything about it at that point anyway. Not from the new starting position he found on the sideline after injuring his knee in the third quarter. Nobody could quite point out when it happened, but if it was enough to keep him from returning to this NFC championship battle, it better had been serious. Still, it didn’t really matter. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers were just a little too much to handle for the Bears.

Rodgers passed for 76 yards on the opening drive of the game and capped it off with TD run of his own to put the Pack up, 7-0. Green Bay would never lose the lead as they coasted to a 21-14 victory over the rival Bears, sending them to their first Super Bowl since 1997.

Few quarterbacks in this league have had to do more to prove themselves than Rodgers. He’s been plagued with the question of whether or not he’ll be able to fill the shoes of Brett Favre, and, let’s face it, those are pretty big shoes to fill. We’re talking Shaq big.

Green Bay has posted modest regular-season records since Favre’s departure with a 6-10 record in 2008, an 11-5 record in 2009 ending on the losing side of a first-round shootout in the playoffs, and a 10-6 record this season. But few can argue against the numbers Rodgers has put up in his young, illustrious career. He has gone on to become the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons as a starter after riding the pine in his first three years in the league. He has a long way to go before we can start comparing him to Favre, but I think it’s safe to say he’s earned respect at the legendary Lambeau Field.

The Packers will be heading to Dallas on Feb. 6 to take on big Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers for the world championship. The Steelers ended the hopes of a wild-card showdown last night shutting down the New York Jets’ second-half surge to hold onto a 24-19 victory. Roethlisberger is one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the league and has already taken his team to two Super Bowl championships. He’s got both the experience and the poise to take home a third crown, and the Packers have one more uphill battle if the team wants to bring its fourth title back to Titletown, USA.

If Green Bay has any hopes of upsetting the Steelers, it’s going to have to come down to a big game from the Packer defense and a little more of that Rodgers magic. He threw for 244 yards, with two interceptions against the Bears—a bit of a letdown after how well he played in the first two games of the post season – but, if he can pull it back together by Super Bowl Sunday, Green Bay will be the team to beat.