Aaron Rodgers staked Green Bay to an early lead and his defense made it stand up as the Packers advanced to the Super Bowl with a 21-14 victory over the host Chicago Bears in Sunday's NFC Championship Game in Chicago.
Rodgers and rookie James Starks ran for short touchdowns and B.J. Raji returned a fourth-quarter interception of third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie for a touchdown as Green Bay advanced to the fifth Super Bowl in franchise history.
Greg Jennings had eight receptions for 130 yards as the Packers (13-6) became the fourth team in league history to win three postseason road games. The Packers beat the Bears for the second time in three meetings this season in the NFL’s longest-running rivalry.
Green Bay will play the AFC winner - Pittsburgh or the New York Jets - on Feb. 6 in Super Bowl XLV in Dallas.
Hanie, who came on late in the third quarter after Bears starter Jay Cutler was injured and backup Todd Collins was ineffective, threw a pair of fourth-quarter scoring passes to pull Chicago within 21-14 with 4:43 to play.
The Bears (12-6) got the ball back with 2:53 and moved to Green Bay's 27-yard line before Sam Shields made his second interception of the game, picking off Hanie to seal it.
Rodgers, who was 17 of 30 for 244 yards and two interceptions, started fast and helped the Packers build a 14-0 halftime before Green Bay's offense bogged down in the second half. The Packers' quarterback also had a big defensive play to prevent a touchdown, making a shoestring tackle after he was intercepted by Chicago middle linebacker Brian Urlacher in the third quarter.
Cutler was injured in the first half and left the game after playing one series in the third quarter. After the Bears went three-and-out on Collins' first two series, Chicago coach Lovie Smith to turn to Hanie in the final minute of the third quarter.
Chester Taylor's 1-yard run on Hanie's first series cut the deficit to 14-7 with 12:02 to play, but Raji restored the two-touchdown cushion when he stepped in front of Hanie's pass and returned it 18 yards for a score with 6:04 remaining.
Hanie brought the Bears right back in 81 seconds, connecting with Earl Bennett on a 35-yard touchdown.
The Packers set the tone on the game's opening drive, marching 84 yards in seven plays for a 7-0 lead. Rodgers was 4 of 4 for 76 yards and capped the drive with a 1-yard bootleg for the touchdown.
Green Bay doubled the lead early in the second quarter, with Starks scoring from 4 yards out - his first career TD - following completions by Rodgers of 15 and 16 yards.
The Bears had a chance to make some noise in the final minute of the half after Lance Briggs intercepted a pass that caromed off the foot of Packers receiver Donald Driver.
But Cutler's long pass down the left sideline was picked off by Shields, sending the Packers into halftime with a double-digit lead for the third straight postseason game.