Chicago Bears hit stride with 3-0 start

Team is NFC’s only unbeaten after 20-17 win

CHICAGO – Still doubting the Bears?

Jay Cutler threw for 221 yards, Brian Urlacher forced a key fumble and Chicago took advantage of a team-record 18 penalties by the Packers to beat Green Bay 20-17 on Monday night.

Robbie Gould won it with a 19-yard field goal with 4 seconds left. The Packers’ James Jones lost a fumble on a hit by Urlacher in the final minutes. Then Morgan Burnett was called for pass interference on Earl Bennett, setting up the winning kick.

Chicago is 3-0 and alone atop the NFC North. The Packers fell to 2-1.

“It’s fun, that is all you can ask for,” Cutler said. “The defense did a great job, we struggled the whole game, felt like we kind of were killing ourselves.”

The Bears kept insisting they were contenders through a sloppy preseason and less-than-inspiring opening win over Detroit. Since then, they turned heads with a win at Dallas last week, and stamped themselves as contenders by beating Green Bay – with lots of help from the Packers.

The Bears had tied it at 17 on a 25-yard field goal by Gould when Urlacher jarred the ball out of Jones’ hands after the receiver caught a pass from Aaron Rodgers near midfield. Tim Jennings recovered, giving Chicago the ball on the Packers 46 with 2:18 remaining.

Soon after, another penalty cost the Packers in a big way. On second down at the 33, Cutler tried to hit Bennett deep along the right sideline and Burnett basically hammered him, wiping out an interception by Nick Collins and giving the Bears the ball at the Packers 9.

Three plays later, Chicago had a wild win and the only undefeated record in the NFC.

“We didn’t play our best game and won. That’s got to be a good sign,” coach Lovie Smith said.

As for the Packers?

“It was an uncharacteristic game on offense for us, well, just as a team,” Rodgers said. “Way too many penalties.”

Devin Hester delivered his first touchdown return in three years when he ran back a punt 62 yards in the fourth quarter, giving the Bears a short-lived 14-10 lead.

Rodgers threw for 316 yards and a touchdown and also scored on a 3-yard run that gave the Packers a 17-14 lead in the fourth period. Jermichael Finley had nine catches for 115 yards, but the sloppiness simply caught up with the Packers.

Cutler completed 16 of 27 passes with a touchdown and interception. Johnny Knox had four catches for 94 yards.

Chicago held its longtime rival to 63 yards rushing, but the Bears had only 77 themselves.

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