Chicago Bears third-stringer Caleb Hanie brought the Bears within a few plays of tying the NFC Championship game, but the Green Bay Packers’ staunch defense grabbed their third interception and Aaron Rodgers was just good enough to send the Packers to Super Bowl XLV, their first appearance since 1998.
Hanie, an undrafted free agent out of Colorado State University in 2008, replaced the 39-year-old Todd Collins after Cutler’s unceremonious exit and was the only Bears quarterback to get downfield all day. While the Packers continued to dismantle the Bears’ offensive line Hanie’s increased mobility was all that kept them from an early exit.
The Packers moved the ball downfield without much trouble, but Rodgers was intercepted twice, including a Brian Urlacher pick that kept the Packers from icing the game in the third quarter. Rodgers’s one touchdown was on the ground; the Packers also got a touchdown from James Starks, who rushed 22 times for 79 yards.
The Packers will play the winner of the AFC Championship game—the Pittsburgh Steelers or the New York Jets—in Super Bowl XLV.