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NFC title game: Packers lead Bears 14-0 at half

CHICAGO – Aaron Rodgers and James Starks had short touchdowns runs and Green Bay’s defense throttled Jay Cutler and the Bears as the Packers took a 14-0 halftime lead Sunday in the NFC championship at Soldier Field.

A trip to Dallas for the Super Bowl was the prize for the winner between two storied franchises and longtime rivals, who’ve combined for 21 titles and have dozens of players in the Hall of Fame.

In the 182nd meeting between the NFL pioneers, the sun came out on an 18-degree day at Soldier Field — cold for most teams — tolerable for these two rivals just 200 miles apart.

Rodgers started where he left off last week against Atlanta, throwing passes of 22 and 26 yards to Greg Jennings to open an 84-yard drive on the opening series of the game. He later hit Jordy Nelson with a 22-yarder to the Bears 2, then ran in from the 1 on a bootleg after withstanding a hard hit from safety Danieal Manning.

And just like that, the Packers were ahead in the first four minutes.

Green Bay left tackle Chad Clifton suffered what appeared to be a neck stinger on the play near the goal line and was replaced on the next series by T.J. Lang. He returned in the second quarter.

Taking the ball at the Bears 44 after forcing Brad Maynard to put out of his end zone, the Packers moved in again early in the second.

Rodgers got off a nice dump pass under pressure to Brandon Jackson and the running back made a beauty of a fake to go right past Bears star linebacker Brian Urlacher and gain 16 yards. Starks then broke off a 12-yard run before Rodgers found Nelson for a 15-yard gain to the 4.

The rookie Starks carried right and weaved his way over the goal line, putting the Packers ahead 14-0 with 11:13 left in the half.

Rodgers was 10 of 15 for 156 yards and an interception; Cutler was 6 of 13 for 80 yards and an interception.

The Bears got their offense moving midway through the quarter but still couldn’t score. Cutler had a 24-yard pass to Johnny Knox and then found Chester Taylor for 12 more, carrying to the Packers 30, their deepest penetration of the game.

But the drive stalled after a completion was wiped out by a holding penalty and two carries by Cutler. Instead of trying a long field goal, the Bears punted again and Maynard’s kicked went over the goal line into the end zone.

Rodgers couldn’t find an open receiver on second down and took off for a 25-yard gain to the Bears 45. Chicago’s defense dug in and stopped Starks on a third-and-1, forcing a Packers punt.

Blitzing defensive back Sam Shields forced a Cutler fumble with just under two minutes to go — the Bears’ Matt Forte recovered — but once again Chicago had to punt.

Finally, the bundled up predominantly Bears crowd had something to cheer when Lance Briggs intercepted a pass from Rodgers intended for Donald Driver with 48 seconds to go.

But after a pass to Forte gained 17 yards, Cutler’s long heave for Knox down the sideline was picked off by Shields near the goal line with 32 seconds left.

The Packers and Bears met only one other time in the postseason, a 33-14 win by Chicago in 1941, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

After splitting two regular-season games — the Packers beat the Bears 10-3 in the finale just to get in — the hype for this matchup overflowed all week.

Green Bay got in as the sixth seed and behind the play of Rodgers, went into Philadelphia and Atlanta for impressive victories. Rodgers had 366 yards passing and threw for three TDs in Green Bay’s surprisingly lopsided 48-21 win against the Falcons.

Chicago, the NFC North champion, got a week off and then beat the only team in the playoffs with a losing record, Seattle, last weekend to advance to the conference title game for the second time since after the 2006 season when they beat New Orleans and made the Super Bowl.

The Packers are looking for their first Super Bowl berth since after the 1997 season, their second of two straight trips behind Brett Favre.

Source: NFC title game: Packers lead Bears 14-0 at half

Super! Watch Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers – Syracuse.com (blog)

Published: Sunday, January 23, 2011, 4:40 PM     Updated: Sunday, January 23, 2011, 4:40 PM

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New York Jets vs Pittsburgh Steelers games live on January 23. Obviously the whole game will be presented here on Watch Live NFL.com, your home for better living playoff games of the NFL and place each weekend during football season. Everyone is wondering if Ben Roethlisberger will again lead his team to the Super Bowl, or if Mark Sanchez and the Jets will be able to pull another upset. The best way to find out by pushing here for all New York Jets vs Pittsburgh Steelers games online.

Green Bay Leaders-Passing: Rodgers – 312-475, 3922 yds, 28 tds ,Rushing: Jackson – 190 car, 703 yds, 3 tds , Receiving: Jennings – 76 rec, 1265 yds, 12 tds and Chicago Leaders-Passing: Cutler – 261-432, 3274 yds, 23 tds,Rushing: Forte – 237 car, 1069 yds, 6 tds,Receiving: Knox – 51 rec, 960 yds, 5 tds.

Chicago Bears against the Green Bay Packers in 2011 will be one of the greatest games ever played. This competition has been involved since 1941, which is the last time the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers squared. After dominating the performance of the previous games, this is easily the most anticipated game in NFL history.

Rodgers won the six-figure job starts against the Bears, completing 68.6 of its shots and hit Cardinal takes shape. His 89.7 scoring footer against them in the conclusion of the season is the poorest of the week his former quartet, but his return with TD humor was the number 12:42. Jay Cutlerthrew for 221 yards and a touchdown in the experiment, but was sacked six present and his staff have come back bugging activity bears.

Cutler responded to 35-24 weeks of separation of the victory over Seattle, threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns – including a 58-meters to Greg Olsen on the activity of pre-flip at the start of the playoffs.

2011 NFC Championship Game will kick off on January 23, at 4:00 pm, ET.

Source: Super! Watch Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers – Syracuse.com (blog)

First FIFA 12 details appear in OPM UK – Made2Game

EA Sports producer David Rutter has been speaking to OPM UK regarding the next version of FIFA, in which he promises an “enormous shopping list” of improvements which the developers are readying for the new title.

According to Rutter, the Canada based studio are planning to make the game a lot faster flowing, starting with the AI.

“I think we did a great job with the Personality Plus feature in FIFA 11, but the team’s [AI] doesn’t support that quite as much as it should,” said Rutter.

“As an example, a team doesn’t spot that if Peter Crouch in the area, they can lay a load of high balls onto his head.”

Rutter also revealed plans to shake up the set pieces, which may see the cut scenes make way for quick free kicks and set-pieces.

“Set-pieces are still a bit lame,” he said. “I get frustrated by not being able to do quick throw-ins, not being able to quickly select my free-kick takers, on the fly stuff. We’re somewhat last-gen in the way the game cuts.”

Finally Rutter also revealed that the team is planning to shake things up in other areas too, which by the sounds of things could involve giving the fans more personality.

“Those moments where you take one player to his old club and the boo boys come out, or his old team are more aggressive in the tackle towards him. So you think: ‘Wow! FIFA understands not just the game of football, but the sport and passion behind it’.”

FIFA 12 will be available later this year.

Thanks, CVG.

Source: First FIFA 12 details appear in OPM UK – Made2Game

NFC Championship Game: Packers at Bears

The team named after a meat packing plant battles the team originally named after a corn processing plant (Decatur Staleys) for the NFC Championship. Green Bay and Chicago. Lambeau and Halas. Lombardi and Ditka. And now, Rodgers and Cutler, Matthews and Urlacher, McCarthy and Lovie.

I already picked the Packers to reach the Super Bowl by beating the Bears in the championship game before the postseason, and I don’t see any reason to come off that now. The Packers have been in playoff contests for a month after losing at Detroit in the game that Rodgers suffered a concussion and Green Bay managed 3 points. Since then, Green Bay has lost a close game at New England without Rodgers, destroyed the Giants in a de facto playoff game, beat the Bears at home 10-3 to officially gain entry, won at Philadelphia, and dominated conference #1 seed Atlanta.

There is always a danger to overreacting to the last week’s results. I don’t think Green Bay will roll over the Bears like they did; the Bears defense is much better than Atlanta’s. However, it’s not like Green Bay has been a mediocre team all year. They led the NFC in point differential. They never trailed by more than one score all season.

The line opened with Green Bay favored, which was not a surprise to me, though it opened a little higher than I expected. Bears fans should be happy. It gives the home team added motivation of feeling disrespected, and we’ve seen that playoff teams who are underdogs at home have been good bets. However, in the championship game round, they haven’t been quite as successful, going 5-5 against the spread.  The last 7 conference championship game home underdogs are only 2-5. The successful underdogs were Arizona over Philadelphia two years ago, and the Giants destroying Minnesota in January of 2001. The Bears were slight home underdogs to another 10-6 team back in 1988, and lost 28-3 at home to San Francisco.

Even though the teams split while winning at home this year, this is a series with very little home field advantage. Both teams play outdoors, in the cold, and are very familiar with each other. Since 1960, the Packers actually have a winning record in Chicago, going 28-22. That’s only one game worse than their home record against Chicago (29-21). Since 1990, the Packers are 13-8 against the spread in Chicago, and 9-1 (7-3 ATS) in Soldier Field when favored.

The fact that Terry McAuley was the referee in the first Bears-Packers meeting this year, where Green Bay was called for 18 penalties, has raised some concern. If I were the Packers, I would be more concerned about executing. It’s not the full crew (playoff crews are mixed) and McAuley doesn’t have a reputation for overly calling penalties.

The tale of the tape shows that the Packers have the significant advantage at pass offense, while the Bears are better at stopping the opponent on the ground.

The one area that doesn’t show up there is special teams, and it is a decided advantage for Chicago. It is, in fact, the one facet where Chicago will need to win to have a good chance, while Green Bay will try to limit the damage. We saw Green Bay give up a kick return touchdown last week, and Devin Hester had a punt return touchdown in the first contest between these teams. Chicago scored only one offensive touchdown (a Cutler pass to Olsen) in the two games, so they will need short fields or scores out of the return games, something that Green Bay can accomodate.

The line: Green Bay by 3.5

My pick: Green Bay 23, Chicago 13

[photo via Getty]

Source: NFC Championship Game: Packers at Bears