Bears stop Packers to clinch first NFC North crown since 2010

CHICAGO -- The Bears snapped an eight-year playoff drought by clinching the NFC North with a 24-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Sunday's win capped off a remarkable transformation for the Bears (10-4), who before coach Matt Nagy's arrival in January had finished dead last in the division for four consecutive seasons.

Nagy's 10 wins are the most by a Bears first-year coach since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

"Well, you could feel it all year long that we knew we had the talent," Nagy said. "I think more so than anything it was going to be how do we respond to adversity and how do our guys react to a loss. How do they react to a win. I'll go back to the Minnesota game Sunday night when we played the Vikings, a former NFC North division champ. And that was a big turnaround, I think, for us to come in there or be here at home and win that game.

"I think it kind of just really embedded into our players the true belief of how they felt where we could go. And you talk about it, but when do you really start truly believing it? And I think that was probably a time that I'll look back and think that's when we turned the corner."

It's the second time since 2003 the Bears have gone from worst to first in their division. Chicago previously accomplished the feat in 2005, the second year of coach Lovie Smith's tenure. Smith, who won the NFC North on three separate occasions, was the most recent Bears coach to reach the playoffs before Nagy.

"We have accomplished a lot. But I think I'm most proud of just the type of guys we have in our locker room, the culture that we have kind of created," quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said. "And we know that nobody really believed in us on the outside in the preseason or even throughout the season, but we knew what type of team we had and we knew we just needed to keep getting better each and every single week. And just the philosophy and the culture that Coach Nagy has brought, we just really start to believe in each other and play harder each and every single week and winning the close games.

"Then you look back and you kind of appreciate where you're at. But we still got a long ways to go, so we just want to keep building and keep getting better. And that's also the characteristics of this culture -- we just stay hungry, stay humble and stay together and keep going."

The victory over Green Bay also gives the Bears a 7-1 record at home for the first time since 2005. Chicago had seven home wins total under former coach John Fox from 2015 to '17.

The Bears had 8-1 odds to win the NFC North at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook before the season. The Minnesota Vikings were -110 favorites.

Trubisky atoned for a poor performance last Sunday night against the Los Angeles Rams by completing 20 of 28 pass attempts for 235 yards and two touchdowns (120.4 rating), including what proved to be the winning touchdown toss to tight end Trey Burton at the 10:16 mark of the fourth quarter.

The Bears defeated Aaron Rodgers for just the fifth time in the Green Bay quarterback's storied career, as Chicago's front seven took full advantage of the Packers' banged-up offensive line. The Bears' defense sacked Rodgers five times and ended the quarterback's NFL record streak of 402 pass attempts without an interception when safety Eddie Jackson picked off a tipped pass intended for Jimmy Graham in the end zone with 3:14 left in the game.

On the play, Jackson suffered a sprained right ankle when he twisted awkwardly as he fell to the ground after a 13-yard return. Jackson had to be helped off the field and was immediately taken to the locker room. Nagy said the Bears will know more about Jackson's injury in 24 to 48 hours.

"Your instincts when you catch the ball ... you pick those balls off and you want to go," Nagy said. "You want to score. So he did. He did that and wanted to get down. But he got caught between a little bit and his foot went down. And so it's unfortunate, but we'll keep a good eye on it, and just make sure he's doing everything he needs to do to get that right."

Chicago star pass-rusher Khalil Mack paced the Bears' defense with a game-high 2.5 sacks.

The Bears felt they had unfinished business with the Packers. Chicago held a 20-0 third-quarter lead over Green Bay in their Week 1 meeting at Lambeau Field only to have Rodgers rally the Packers to a 24-23 comeback win by throwing three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.

Green Bay, which had won five of the past seven division titles entering the 2018 season, also ended the Bears' most recent postseason run in the 2010 NFC Championship Game played at Soldier Field. Three years later, Green Bay eliminated the Bears from playoff contention with a win in Chicago in the final week of the 2013 regular season.

The Bears wrap up the regular season with road games against the Niners and Vikings before hosting just their seventh home playoff game since the Mike Ditka era ended after the 1992 season.