CHICAGO — Cut by two teams since the end of last season, James Jones felt like he had something to prove. Teaming with Aaron Rodgers makes it a little easier to drive home the point.
Rodgers threw for three touchdowns, two to Jones, and the Green Bay Packers beat Chicago 31-23 to spoil John Fox's debut as Bears coach Sunday.
"If somebody tells you that you can't do something, you're going to want to go out there and prove them wrong," Jones said. "So, I'm playing with a little chip on my shoulder, but it's the first step, and we have a lot of work to do."
The Packers got all they could handle from the rebuilding Bears but took control down the stretch to beat them for the 10th time in 11 games, including the postseason.
Rodgers improved to 13-3 lifetime against Chicago. The 2014 MVP completed 18 of 23 passes for 189 yards.
Jones, who spent seven seasons in Green Bay before signing with Oakland last year, caught four passes for 51 yards. That included a one-handed grab on a 13-yard score late in the first quarter that left Rodgers flashing back to 2012, when Jones led the league with 14 TD catches, and a 1-yarder in the third quarter.
The Bears, starting over under Fox and new general manager Ryan Pace after a five-win season, kept this one close. But the result was a familiar one.
Here are some things we learned about Green Bay and Chicago:
REPLACING NELSON: The Packers were able to get by for at least one game without Jordy Nelson after he suffered a season-ending knee injury. A big reason for that was Jones.
Released by the Raiders in the offseason, and by the New York Giants on the final roster cut, it was not hard to see why the Packers brought him back. He thrived in the system before and this was a good start for him.
"No disrespect to James, but I don't think it was that out of character," Rodgers said. "Like many other guys that have gone elsewhere and come back, there is a comfort in this offense for guys who have flourished in at times. And I think that Jones is one of those guys that really feels comfortable on offense."
ON THE RUN: The Bears promised a more balanced offense under Fox after relying heavily on the pass under former coach Marc Trestman.
Matt Forte got off to a good start by running for 141 yards and a touchdown. Green Bay did clamp down after he went for 105 in the first half. But even so, it was his fourth game with at least 141 yards and his highest output since he ran for 145 against Tampa Bay on Oct. 23, 2011.
Forte had only one game last season with more than 24 carries. He had 117 yards on 26 attempts during a 21-13 victory over Minnesota on Nov. 16.
"It felt good," Forte said. "Felt like that's how it is supposed to be."
LINING UP: The Bears started two-time Pro Bowl right guard Kyle Long at right tackle. It was a move that many saw coming after Jordan Mills got released a week earlier. And it was one that Long shrugged off.
"You get so comfortable at one position, and then you get moved," Long said. "But that's part of the deal: football. Especially on the offensive line."
ABOUT THAT CALL: Green Bay had a 24-16 lead when Chicago drove to the Packers 2 with about 7 1/2 minutes left. But the Bears turned the ball over on downs after Jay Cutler misfired on three straight passes from the 2.
The decision to go for it on fourth down with so much time left was a curious one, but Fox said he would make the same choice if he had to do it all over again.
"At that point in the game, you have to be fairly aggressive," he said.
EARLY RETURNS: Ty Montgomery gave the Packers return game a big jolt in his debut. The rookie from Stanford returned three kickoffs for 106 yards, including a 46-yarder.
For a team that ranked 31st last season in kick return average, that was a good sign.