CHICAGO (AP) — Green Bay nose tackle B.J. Raji, all 337 pounds of him, picked off the pass that was mistakenly thrown right to him, took off on a short jaunt to the end zone and then held the ball with his big hand right out in front.
Thanks to his touchdown, Big B.J. and Green Bay’s D are headed to Big D. For the Super Bowl.
Raji’s 18-yard interception return for a TD with about six minutes to go Sunday turned out to be the biggest and most important play all day by an aggressive Packers defense.
“Dom is a great coach,” Raji said, crediting defensive coordinator Dom Capers. “He has great things for us.”
Green Bay also got two interceptions — one to close out the victory in the final minute — from defensive back Sam Shields, who also forced a fumble on a blitz.
Raji’s interception of Chicago third-stringer Caleb Hanie’s pass gave the Packers a two-touchdown lead, and they needed it after being burned by a Hanie-to-Earl Bennett TD a short time later.
The Bears got the ball back again, but Shields made his second interception of the game, this one at the Packers 12, to wrap up the victory.
Green Bay’s quick defense made a miserable day for Chicago starter Jay Cutler, who left in the third quarter with a knee injury and completed only 6 of 14 passes for 80 yards.
Clay Matthews, Cullen Jenkins, Ryan Pickett and Raji kept up the pressure throughout the game and the Packers forced a hurried Hanie into an intentional grounding call on the final series.
Until Johnny Knox got free on a 32-yarder in the fourth quarter from Hanie to set up a TD, Green Bay’s pass coverage seldom cracked and the Packers were pitching a shutout.
The Packers, who allowed only 15 points per game this season, also had strong special teams coverage on Bears return sensation Devin Hester.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)