GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers’ knee hurt. His arm was just fine.
The hobbling two-time NFL MVP threw three touchdown passes in the second half after returning from a knee injury, and the Green Bay Packers overcame a 20-point deficit for a thrilling 24-23 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday night.
Rodgers, who was carted off in the first half, connected with receiver Randall Cobb for a catch-and-run through the secondary for a 75-yard touchdown and the go-ahead score with 2:13 left in the game.
"Aaron Rodgers was remarkable. I just can’t tell you how proud I am with him," coach Mike McCarthy said.
Nick Perry sacked the Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky on fourth-and-10 with 58 seconds to complete the comeback.
A Chicago defence featuring newly acquired star linebacker Khalil Mack dominated until the third quarter. Mack had a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown against backup quarterback DeShone Kizer in the second quarter.
A gimpy Rodgers returned in the second half and finally figured out the Bears. He also found Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison for touchdown passes.
"Felt something in it. I had a hard time putting weight on it. (The doctor) and I had a conversation," Rodgers said of his knee. "We did the tests. I told him I was going back."
The Packers plan to run more tests on their QB on Monday, though Rodgers seems to think his availability for next week’s game against Minnesota is a foregone conclusion.
"No, I’m planning on playing," Rodgers said.
Add the win over the Bears to Rodgers’ already lengthy career highlight reel. He finished 20 of 30 for 286 yards.
"Obviously, that’s a tough one for us. It stings," coach Matt Nagy said after his Bears debut.
It was Rodgers’ first regular-season home game since Sept. 28 against the Bears. He was limited to seven games in 2017 because of a collarbone injury.
Mack nearly stole the show. He also stripped the ball for a turnover in the red zone off Kizer in the second quarter. Mack made an immediate impact in his first game since the Bears acquired the premier pass rusher in a blockbuster deal with the Oakland Raiders.
The Bears led 20-0 at one point and their defence dominated until the second half.
Then Rodgers returned, and the Packers’ defence held the Bears in check.
Green Bay scored 17 unanswered points at one point.
"You know we talked about finishing and we didn’t do that," Nagy said.
An offensive-minded coach, Nagy had the aggressive Bears’ offence pushing the Packers around the field in the first half.
Mitchell Trubisky was 23 of 35 for 171 yards. He also ran for 32 yards on seven carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
It turned out to be the only offensive touchdown the Bears would score all night.
The Packers’ defence, in new co-ordinator Mike Pettine’s first game, held the Bears to two field goals in the second half.
Mack finished with three tackles.
Bears: Host the Seattle Seahawks next Monday.
Packers: Host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.