Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman, bottom, and linebacker A.J. Hawk (50) tackle Bears running back Matt Forte during the first quarter of the Monday Night Football contest at Soldier Field in Chicago.AP PHOTO
CHICAGO — Aaron Rodgers threw for 226 yards and two touchdown passes, and the Green Bay Packers led the Chicago Bears 14-10 through three quarters on Monday night in the coldest game on record at Soldier Field while trying to wipe their rivals out of playoff contention.
Rodgers hit Greg Jennings midway through the second quarter to break a scoreless tie and added a 17-yarder to Ryan Grant that made it 14-3 later in the period as the Packers heated up on a frigid night.
With their playoff hopes flickering, the Bears made it a four-point game on Kyle Orton’s 3-yard pass to Greg Olsen early in the third quarter after Brad Maynard’s punt deflected off a Green Bay player, keeping the drive going.
But Charles Woodson picked off Kyle Orton near midfield and returned it to the Chicago 30 late in the third.
The gametime temperature was 2 degrees, a record low at Soldier Field, and the wind chill was a numbing minus-13. The big freeze came after the Bears (8-6) got some big breaks over the weekend, with NFC North leader Minnesota losing along with Dallas, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. That kept Chicago in the running for both the division title and a wild-card berth, but on a frozen field, both teams had trouble warming up.
A 37-3 loser at Lambeau Field last month, the Bears managed just 92 yards through the first three quarters. Maynard booted two punts of 60 yards or more in the first quarter and the defense held its ground early on, but the Packers took control with Rodgers leading the way.
He was 20-of-31 through three quarters and his lone glitch was an interception by Alex Brown near midfield after a blitzing Danieal Manning tipped the pass late in the first quarter. The Bears went nowhere, and the Packers (5-9), who have lost four straight since that win over Chicago, then drove 91 yards to the end zone. Rodgers’ 7-yard pass to Jennings capped the drive, making it 7-0.
The Bears wasted little time cutting into the lead.
Manning returned the kickoff 70 yards — the last 20 with Jarett Bush clutching his jersey — to set up a 31-yard field goal by Robbie Gould. It was the fourth return of 50 or more yards in the past three games for Manning.
After seeing their lead shrink to 7-3, the Packers saw Donald Driver get helped to the sideline with a knee injury after he crashed to the field lunging for a deep pass to start the next drive. He returned in the second half, but while he got help, the Packers charged on, driving 58 yards to take a 14-3 lead.
Grant finished it with a 17-yard reception, running over Chicago’s Craig Steltz on the way to the end zone.