GREEN BAY — There is always plenty of history when the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears play.
Thursday night’s game at Lambeau Field had more history than most.
No teams in the NFL have faced off more than the Packers and Bears and, going into their 195th meeting, they were all tied up on the scoreboard. Including two playoff games, each team had 94 wins and there were six ties. In those 194 games, the Packers had scored 3,335 points, the Bears 3,331.
As close as the series is, the Packers entered the game with extra incentive. With a victory, they would complete a stunningly dominant 25-year comeback against their oldest rivals and take the lead in the series for the first time since 1933.
Chicago’s largest advantage in the series was 24 games, which it reached twice — in 1960 and again in 1992. Legendary coach Vince Lombardi took a big chunk out of the Bears’ first 24-game lead and coach Mike Holmgren began the process that led to the Packers erasing the second 24-game deficit.
The last time Green Bay led the series was at 11-10-4 in 1932. The Packers lost the lead in 1933, when they were swept by the Bears, and Chicago held the series lead until Green Bay tied it last December.
Now, the Packers have taken the lead in the NFL’s most-storied rivalry and their weather-delayed, 35-14 domination of the Bears illustrated to everyone why that is.
Simply put, the Packers have a quarterback and the Bears don’t.
Indeed, the biggest difference between the teams has been the quarterback position. It’s as simple as that and, for the quarterback-challenged Bears, as complicated as that.
Since 1992, the Packers have gone 38-14 against the Bears and the No. 1 reason is quarterbacking. Brett Favre went 22-10 against the Bears and Aaron Rodgers is now 16-4 after a performance that, under the circumstances, was one of the finest examples of quarterback play in Packers history.
“I thought Aaron was flawless tonight,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We had to be real smart at the start of the game. We did a lot of three-step (drops) and moved him around. Aaron’s great outside the pocket just as well as in the pocket.”
Stability and talent at quarterback is needed more than ever in the modern NFL, a concept the Packers have always understood and the Bears have never quite seemed to grasp.
In the past 26 seasons, Favre and Rodgers are the only two Packers quarterbacks to start against the Bears.
Meanwhile, Mike Glennon, who signed a three-year, $45 million free-agent contract with the Bears during the offseason, was the 18th quarterback to start for Chicago during that time.
The Bears haven’t had a great quarterback since Hall of Famer Sid Luckman retired 67 years ago. Since that time, the Packers have had two Hall of Famers — Bart Starr and Favre — and a future Hall of Famer — Rodgers — at the position.
Rodgers looked the part Thursday night. People worried for his health when it was announced before the game that tackles Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari couldn’t play due to injuries, meaning the Packers were without their top five tackles. That prompted a line shuffle that moved left guard Lane Taylor to left tackle for the first time in his career and inserted Lucas Patrick at guard, where he was making his NFL debut.
Figuring his quarterback would be under siege, McCarthy was determined to run the ball, but by halftime he had lost halfbacks Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams to injury. To his credit, McCarthy never abandoned the run, but the game was still solidly in Rodgers’ hands.
Rodgers avoided the rush by moving around and made play after play in McCarthy’s short-passing scheme. Despite shaky protection, he kept finding open wide receivers, connecting with Jordy Nelson (twice), Davante Adams and Randall Cobb for touchdowns in the red zone.
In all, Rodgers completed 18 of 26 passes for 179 yards and four touchdowns, a stellar passer rating of 128.0.
The Bears countered with Glennon, who was brought in as a placeholder for rookie Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears spent heavily in the draft to move up and select Trubisky and they seem determined to take their time with him. But as Trubisky sits and simmers, they’re falling behind the Packers.
Glennon had a hand in all four Green Bay takeaways. After the Packers had taken a 7-0 lead on their opening drive, Glennon went back to pass on Chicago’s first play, was drilled by linebacker Clay Matthews and fumbled at the 3-yard line. Three plays later, the Packers had a 14-0 lead.
On Chicago’s next series, Glennon appeared to have a communication problem with center Cody Whitehair, whose shotgun snap bounced off Glennon’s knee and was recovered by Packers linebacker Blake Martinez.
Glennon later suffered two interceptions, badly overthrowing his receivers on both.
The Packers turned Ha Ha Clinton-Dix’s first-half pick into a 21-0 lead.
In the second half, Kentrell Brice’s pick set up a touchdown that gave the Packers a 35-7 lead.
At this point in the rivalry, the Packers showed they can beat the Bears with one arm tied behind their backs.
And two tackles.
And two running backs.
Of course, as long as Rodgers has a free arm, the Packers will dominate the series.