CHICAGO (AP) — It's not hard to see why Aaron Rodgers is feeling a little more confident these days.
Between a championship run last season and strong start this year, these certainly are good times for the Green Bay Packers and their star quarterback.
He came through again on Sunday, and the result was another win at Soldier Field.
Rodgers threw for 297 yards, including three touchdown passes to Jermichael Finley, and the Packers shut down Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears in a 27-17 victory Sunday.
The stakes weren't as high as the previous meeting, when Green Bay left Chicago's home field celebrating the NFC title. The Packers still managed to give the Bears (1-2) more headaches in the NFL's longest-running series.
Rodgers led the charge, completing 28 of 38 passes in another sharp performance from a quarterback who sees a difference in himself this season.
"More comfortable, definitely," he said. "Going through the postseason like that and feeling good about the way I played, other than maybe the second half here, it gives you a lot of confidence going into the season."
The way coach Mike McCarthy sees it, Rodgers should feel that way.
"He had a lot of success as a player, he won a world championship last year," he said. "I think that would give everybody more confidence once they are involved in that. He has a very good handle week in week out of the plan, how the defense is playing. He is a very good player, he definitely is on path to be recognized as a great player when his career finishes."
Rodgers threw his first interception of the season, when Brian Urlacher picked him off with the Packers leading 27-17 in the fourth quarter.
The Bears took over at their 45, but two penalties — holding by Chris Spencer and unnecessary roughness on Devin Hester for a confrontation with Sam Shields — ended any shot at a comeback.
Rodgers hit Finley with a 6-yard TD on the game's opening drive, a 7-yarder early in the second quarter that made it 14-0, and a 10-yarder that gave the Packers (3-0) a commanding 27-10 lead early in the fourth.
Greg Jennings caught nine passes for 119 yards, while Finley finished with seven receptions and 85 yards. Ryan Grant ran for 92, and Morgan Burnett intercepted Cutler twice on passes intended for Roy Williams.
Even so, Rodgers said they're still not quite "clicking." He acknowledged there is more balance between the run and pass, but he still sees room to improve in all phases.
"I think we have the potential to get better, and I don't know how many wins that means or the playoffs or whatever, but I just think we can play better football," he said. "The standard we've set around Green Bay is excellence, so until we're at that point, there's going to be a lot of hard work during the week."
For the Bears, it was simply a brutal performance.
Their quarterback struggled in a big way and the running game was again nonexistent as Chicago dropped its second straight after an impressive win over Atlanta.
The Bears managed just 13 yards rushing — and with only 12 attempts, they matched their second-fewest for the second straight game. Against New Orleans last week, they called 52 pass plays and handed off 11 times, with a scramble by Cutler bringing the run total to 12.
Coach Lovie Smith credited Green Bay's defense and said, "If you don't get your running game going, you have to look at what the other side of the ball did."
Clearly, though, the Bears have some work to do.
"That means they probably have to work on that for next week because it didn't work today," Green Bay's B.J. Raji said. "But on a more serious note, we've played good backs this whole season, I know there is emphasis in the media on (Matt) Forte getting the ball, but we knew if we took care of business he wouldn't be a factor."
Forte had just 2 yards on nine runs — or less than a quarter of a yard per attempt.
Things were so bad against Green Bay that fans cheered sarcastically when he gained 3 yards early in the third period. But it wasn't as if the quarterback was lighting things up, either.
Cutler was 21 of 37 for 302 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions and threw six straight incompletions to start the second half against a defense that allowed Drew Brees and Cam Newton to throw for more than 400.
Worse, the Packers were without Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, who suffered a season-ending neck injury the previous week.
It wasn't enough to slow the Packers.