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Packers clinch top seed; Bears out of playoffs

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers threw five touchdown passes for the first time to help the Packers nail down the No. 1 seed in the NFC and knock the Bears out of the playoff chase.

Rodgers threw a pair of touchdown passes to Jordy Nelson, threw another two to James Jones and found tight end Jermichael Finley for a score as the Packers won 35-21 on Sunday night.

"Great night for us, securing that No. 1 seed," Rodgers said. "Now we're going to enjoy the rest of our Christmas with our families."

The Packers needed the win to tie down homefield advantage in the NFC.

The loss eliminated the Bears from playoff contention and put the Falcons in as at least a wild card.

Third-string running back Kahlil Bell rushed for 121 yards on 23 carries for the Bears, who trailed by four early in the third quarter, 14-10. But Rodgers drove the Packers for touchdowns on their next three possessions to put the game out of reach.

Rodgers was 21-of-29 for 283 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions when backup Matt Flynn took over with 7:54 left in the game.

Chicago went into the game on a four-game losing streak and beset by injuries. But it was able to stay in the game with solid defense and tough running by Bell, who started because of injuries to Matt Forte and Marion Barber.

Players say they'd still hide concussion

In a series of interviews about head injuries with the Associated Press over the past two weeks, 23 of 44 players interviewed said they would try to conceal a possible concussion rather than pull themselves out of a game. Some acknowledged they already have.

Players also said they should be better protected from their instincts: More than two-thirds of the group wanted independent neurologists on the sidelines during games.

The Associated Press spoke to at least one player from each of the 32 teams to gauge whether concussion safety and attitudes about head injuries have changed in the past two years as close attention has been devoted to the issue. The group was made up of 33 starters and 11 reserves; 25 players on offense and 19 on defense. All have played at least three seasons.

peterson tears acl: An MRI exam confirmed that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against the Redskins on Saturday, the team said.

Jets-Giants spat: The league won't look into Saturday's postgame exchange of insults and profanities between Jets coach Rex Ryan and Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, the New York Daily News reported.

cowboys: All indications continued to be that quarterback Tony Romo sustained no structural damage when he banged his throwing hand against the helmet of Eagles defensive end Jason Babin on Saturday and that he would be able to play Sunday against the Giants in a game that determines whether Dallas makes the playoffs, NBC Sports reported.

Packers 35

Bears 21


Falcons at Saints

When/where: 8:30, Superdome, New Orleans

TV/radio: ESPN, ESPN Deportes; 1010-AM

Packers clinch top seed; Bears out of playoffs 12/25/11 [Last modified: Monday, December 26, 2011 12:06am]
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