GREEN BAY, Wis. — On a “Color Rush” Thursday night at Lambeau Field, the colors of blue and orange were difficult to find in the stands. This, of course, was not surprising as a much more significant game involving a Chicago sports team was being played 2,113 miles away in Los Angeles.
The Bears’ 1-5 record coming into their latest rivalry game with the Packers didn’t help, but it’s hard to blame Chicagoans for not making the three-hour trek up north with the Cubs playing Game 5 of the NLCS simultaneously.
For this Bears reporter (who has also been handling Cubs postgame duties on WGN Radio during the playoffs) Thursday night featured an odd presentation of live football paired with tablet baseball. Here’s what transpired over three-plus hours of keeping an eye on two very different games from the Lambeau Field press box:
7:08 p.m. CT — The Cubs get underway at Dodger Stadium and it doesn’t take long for them to take a 1-0 lead. The suddenly hot Anthony Rizzo doubles Dexter Fowler home as John Fox wonders how Matt Szczur’s bat can help the Bears beat the Packers.
7:35 — The Bears game is underway and Leonard Floyd nearly sacks Aaron Rodgers. Meanwhile, Bears fans can only think about all the “near-sacks” Shea McClellin had.
8:12 — Brian Hoyer goes down. It’s quickly apparent the quarterback has a significant injury and the Bears later confirm he broke his left arm.
8:24 — It gets worse for the Bears as right guard Kyle Long is removed from the game in favor of Ted Larsen. Already playing with a torn labrum and hand injury, Long suffered a muscle injury in his arm and the coaches/doctors determine he’s better off sitting this one out under the circumstances. Is it coincidental timing with Matt Barkley entering the game? Probably not.
8:40 — Floyd registers his first full sack as a Bear. After missing two games with a calf injury, it’s evident that the rookie is playing faster now that he’s closer to 100 percent.
8:51 — Amazingly, the Bears head to halftime only down 6-3. It’s the football equivalent of the 1-0 game going on at Dodger Stadium — just less interesting. A lot less interesting.
9:10 — The second half starts with a bang as Floyd strips Rodgers and recovers the ball in the end zone to give the Bears a 10-6 lead. These are the moments that matter for the Bears the rest of the year. They need their young players — especially Floyd — to pile up impact plays. A lot of them.
9:21 — Apparently the NFL is using the same replay crew Major League Baseball used in Game 4 of the NLCS and an obvious incomplete pass is ruled complete. Joe Maddon reacts from Los Angeles:
9:32 — At Dodger Stadium, Addison Russell hits a home run a projected 419 feet. An unnamed media member from Chicago (rhymes with Marry Layer) cheers lightly inside the Lambeau Field press box. I make a bad joke on Twitter about the home run landing on the field in Green Bay.
9:50 – In the worst blown coverage since Rodgers hit Randall Cobb at Soldier Field to win the 2013 NFC North title, Harold Jones-Quartey and Tracy Porter both cover the flat while Davante Adams stands wide open in the end zone. Suddenly, the Packers are up 20-10 and Rodgers looks like Rodgers again.
9:55 — Anthony Rizzo does what Jim Thome should have done years ago and beats the Dodgers’ shift with a bunt down the third base line.
10:06 — The Packers are threatening again and Willie Young and Akiem Hicks literally run into each other as Rodgers escapes the pocket and picks up eight yards on 3rd-and-6.
10:07 — Recently promoted cornerback De’Vante Bausby is caught with his third penalty of the game. No, really. He literally caught the flag the official threw from the corner of the end zone.
10:10 — Aaron Rodgers is officially fixed.
10:13 — Another replay review — the baseball version — as Adrian Gonzalez falls victim again. This time he won’t have a still-frame to tweet out to Major League Baseball. He was out easily.
10:22 — Matt Barkley gets picked off by Blake Martinez. John Fox thinks about putting Brian Hoyer back in with one arm. You know, because he doesn’t throw interceptions.
10:30 – Hicks blocks a field goal and John Fox celebrates as if the Bears are going to win the game. The Packers lead 26-10.
10:36 — Nick Perry intercepts Barkley, mercifully ending the game. The Bears, who entered Thursday night dead last in the NFL with 16.8 points per game, score 10. Their only touchdown was a defensive score. Rodgers, meanwhile, completes a franchise record 39 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns.
10:55ish — Inside the press conference room at Lambeau Field, the MLB At Bat app reveals that Javy Baez cleared the bases to give the Cubs a commanding 8-1 lead in L.A.
11:00ish — The contrast could not be greater inside a somber Bears locker room that has become too normal of a scene over the last three years. Kyle Long says his arm is “f***ed up” while Fox provides a sliver of hope against the Vikings by saying Jay Cutler is “getting closer” to a return.
11:26 — The Cubs finish off the Dodgers, while the Bears board their buses back home. There will be no football to worry about in Chicago Sunday. The weekend belongs to the Cubs, and a possible World Series berth.
The Bears, meanwhile, just seem even further away.