The Packers didn't look crisp, efficient or Super Bowl-ready -- not for the entire 60 minutes, anyway -- during a 21-14 victory over Chicago Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.
But, they were resilient enough to overcome their own shortcomings, made the requisite plays to increase their winning streak to five games and improve their overall record to 9-4.
A playoff berth, which seemed like a distant dream a little more than a month ago, now seems almost certain. The Packers will need to avoid injury and shore up some major shortcomings in the coming weeks, but they will present a tough matchup for whomever they face in the post-season.
Here are some observations from the sofa:
Sack exchange: Remember all the howling from Packers fans earlier this season about quarterback Aaron Rodgers holding the ball too long and taking sacks?
Chicago fans would love to have that problem.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw two more interceptions on Sunday, pushing his season total to 21. Cutler has been sacked just 21 times this year. Rodgers has been sacked 47 times. He's thrown seven interceptions.
Ball possession is everything in the NFL. Rodgers has better receivers, makes better decisions and is generally a better quarterback than Cutler. That's why the Packers are headed to the playoffs and the Bears are heading for the golf course.
For the record: Rodgers' record as a starter is 15-14. After 29 games, the fellow currently starting in Minnesota was 17-12.
In 29 games, Rodgers has tallied 53 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions. Brett Favre had 37 touchdowns and 37 interceptions.
Tell it like it is: Former Ravens coach Brian Billick turned in a strong performance in the booth Sunday. His take on the Bears, the referees and the flow of the game was spot-on.
Squandering good fortune: Good starts don't mean much to the Packers lately. They led San Francisco by 20-0, but had to hang on for a 30-24 victory. They jumped to a 17-0 lead against Baltimore, then won by 27-14. They jumped ahead of Chicago, 13-0, and probably should have led by 21-0, and trailed in the fourth quarter before winning.
Oops: Packers cornerback Charles Woodson intercepted a pass from Cutler but dropped two potential interceptions.
Hidden gems: Easily overlooked moments in the game: Rodgers' two-point conversion pass to Greg Jennings; and, Tramon Williams' blitz on third-and-5, which forced Cutler to throw a pivotal interception to Nick Collins. Kudos to Dom Capers, who has lived up to his genius billing, for making that call.
Why bother? Referees reviewed Jennings catch-and-drop in the end zone and ruled the pass incomplete. Just about everyone who saw the replay saw Jennings catch the ball, take two steps and then bobble it over end line. Why do referees even look at replays if they're still going to get calls wrong?
Surprising quote of the day: Packers coach Mike McCarthy in the post-game interview session: "Trust me, I know what my division record is -- 17-7, 4-4 vs. the Bears. I'm definitely in tune with where we are in our program," McCarthy said. "This is an important game. It's an important game for each organization. It's a very important game for the cities. There's a lot of people that put a lot into this game. It's a very, very important game for our fans and I'm sure they're excited. Trust me, we feel very good about the victory today."
Few coaches would admit to knowing the record. They all would know it, of course. Few would admit it.
Crisis of confidence: Packers kicker Mason Crosby continues to struggle from mid-range. He missed from 43 yards on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit, botched a 38-yarder (with a bad hold) on Monday night against Baltimore and missed another one Sunday from 42 yards out. That's three misses in three weeks from 43 yards and closer. In his first three seasons, Crosby missed only four such kicks.
Crosby is 1 for 5 from 50 yards or more and 4 for 7 from 40-49 yards.
As Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com pointed out, six of Crosby's eight misses this season have come from the right hash mark.
Big man: Opponents may shut down Donald Driver and Jennings, but Packers tight end Jermichael Finley has been a force lately (first half fumble aside). Few teams can contain all three.
Time for a break? Packers tackle Mark Tauscher, whose strong play solidified the offensive line in recent weeks, is beginning to look a bit tired. The coaching staff must keep him fresh down the stretch for this team to be able to win games in January.
No love for Lovie: The Bears' sideline had to be embarrassed when they burned a timeout with 4:51 left in the game, then challenged a ruling on the field and cost themselves another timeout.
Trick play: The Packers forced Chicago to use a timeout in the first half when they lined up for a 50-yard field goal and shifted into "fake" mode. Matt Flynn, the holder and backup quarterback, was set to take the snap and the Bears called timeout. McCarthy countered by sending his regular offense out on the next play and Rodgers scrambled nine yards for a first down.
How sweep it is: The Packers swept two games against Chicago this season for the first time since 2003. Chicago swept the two games in 2005 and ‘07.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.