GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — For the better part of two decades now, the Green Bay Packers backup quarterback has been little more than an afterthought.
With Aaron Rodgers knocked out of the game — and perhaps longer — by a shoulder injury on the first series, Josh McCown and the Chicago Bears reminded the Packers why good insurance is so important. McCown, playing in place of the injured Jay Cutler, threw for two touchdowns Monday night and led Chicago to a 27-20 victory that ended a six-game skid to its NFC North rivals.
“We expected to win this game, even with the situation that happened,” Jordy Nelson said. “We had an opportunity to win the game, and we just didn’t make enough plays.”
The loss snapped Green Bay’s four-game winning streak, but the far larger concern is the health of Rodgers, who hurt his left (non-throwing) shoulder when he was sacked on the first series by Shea McClellin.
Rodgers took a few warm-up throws with backup Seneca Wallace but, after being examined by medical staff, ran into the Green Bay locker room. He wasn’t seen again until midway through the third quarter, when he came back onto the field in sweats. Though he waved to fans with his right hand, and didn’t appear to be wearing a brace, he kept his left hand jammed in his pocket.
“He has a shoulder injury,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “They want to run more tests. They don’t have an exact diagnosis. We’ll have more information, probably tomorrow.”
Alshon Jeffery had five catches for 60 yards, including a 6-yard grab for the go-ahead touchdown at the end of the third quarter. Brandon Marshall, largely shut down in two games against Green Bay last year, had seven catches for 107 yards and a score. Matt Forte ran for 125 yards and a TD, and also had 54 yards receiving for the Bears, who pulled into a three-way tie for first in the NFC North with Green Bay and Detroit.
All are 5-3.
The loss spoiled another big night by Green Bay rookie Eddie Lacy, who ran for 150 yards and a touchdown.
Green Bay has been hit hard by injuries, with James Jones (knee) returning Monday night after a two-game absence and sackmaster Clay Matthews (thumb) and tight end Jermichael Finley still out. Wide receiver Randall Cobb (leg) is also on the injured list-designated to return, and offensive lineman T.J. Lang (concussion) and linebacker Andy Mulumba (ankle) left the game.
But as the Bears know all too well, backups can be just as invaluable as a starter.
After a series of forgettable backups under Lovie Smith — Caleb Hanie or Jonathan Quinn, anyone? — the Bears signed McCown when Cutler was hurt two years ago. He played well enough then to stick around, and his familiarity with his receivers and coach Marc Trestman’s system was evident.
McCown may not have been dazzling, going 22 for 41 for 272 yards, but he mixed his passes effectively to Marshall, Jeffery and Forte, and Forte ran roughshod on the Green Bay defense.
The Bears sealed their victory with 53 seconds left with Robbie Gould’s 27- yard field goal, which followed an 18-play, 80-yard drive that ate almost nine minutes off the clock.
Wallace finished 11 of 19 for 114 yards. The Packers were just 1 of 9 on third down.
“Seneca, he needs to perform better, and he’ll definitely do that with a week of practice,” McCarthy said.