CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Bears lost to the Green Bay Packers 10-3 Thursday night at at Soldier Field in the first game of the NFL's 100th season.
In a defensive battle also marked by sloppy offense and penalties, the Packers used the Bears' usual trademark, a staunch D, and just enough from Aaron Rodgers on Thursday night to kick off the league's 100th season with a 10-3 victory over their archrivals.
A lack of action in the preseason clearly damaged both offenses, and Rodgers at times looked uncomfortable in the attack designed by new coach Matt LaFleur. But he is a two-time league MVP, and he hit Jimmy Graham for the game's only touchdown in the second quarter.
From there, it was an aggressive defense that would have made Vince Lombardi proud in the latest edition of the NFL's longest rivalry, which the Packers lead 98-95-6. Green Bay has won 16 of the last 19 regular-season meetings, and Rodgers is 17-5.
Chicago's defense hardly slacked, getting five sacks - tying the most it has had against Rodgers. But it could do little with the ball and the Packers had five sacks of Mitchell Trubisky, who never found his stride. Former Bears safety Adrian Amos picked off an end-zone pass into double coverage with 1:58 remaining, the only turnover of the contest.
Mason Crosby made a 39-yard field goal in the final period for Green Bay, while defending NFC North champion Chicago got a 38-yarder from Eddy Pineiro.
Jay Cutler returned to Soldier Field and the Bears tweeted out pictures of Cutler having some fun with offensive guard Kyle Long.
But some on social media wished he hadn't shown up, talking about a Cutler Curse, which they think may have contributed to the loss
A big party in Grant Park celebrated the beginning of the NFL's centennial season. Crews have been setting up for days.
Grant Park was transformed into a wonderland for football fans and the main stage is in place right near Buckingham Fountain.
"When we were talking about where we wanted to start our 100th season, Chicago came right to the top of the list," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The Bears kicked off the season with a massive free event for fans. There will be special performances by Meghan Trainor, rapper Meek Mill and Rapsody before the game.
There's a mini NFL museum where fans can pose with busts of Bears' legends, the Vince Lombardi Trophy and all 53 Super Bowl rings.
You can even test your throwing skills and if that's not enough some of your favorite Bears from years past will sign autographs throughout the day, including Jim McMahon, Richard Dent, Matt Forte and Charles "Peanut" Tillman.
"So traditionally we do this event in the home of the Super Bowl champion, but this year obviously we wanted to break the mold given the hundredth and there was no better way to do it then with this incredible rivalry," said Shapiro.
The event culminates with the NFL Kickoff Watch Party starting at 7 p.m. featuring the game on 17-foot screens. The game kicks off at 7:20 p.m.
Fans are expecting big things from Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky this season. Some are sure that the Bears will bring the Lombardi trophy home again. Former players agree; Matt Forte said he likes what he sees from the Bears this season. Expectations are high.
"I am expecting Roquan Smith to have a break out year," said Bears fan Jesse Farrell. "This is year number two, he's had a full year of training camp. The Bears are gonna roll."
Around Soldier Field, another familiar and welcome sight: tailgaters.
"This is out tailgater," said fan Eddie Vince. "It's called Mack."
And Mack is no ordinary vehicle.
"We as a team built this thing eight years ago," Vince explained. "It started out a short school bus from Wisconsin that we gutted, made into what it is today with the seating stuff inside of it."
Fans packed into the lots around Soldier Field for food and fun before the primetime season opener. But what exactly makes a good tailgate?
"The people and food," said tailgater Chris King. "See, we have some nice Alaska king crab legs. We are going to be doing beef tenderloin, a ribeye roast."
"The food is phenomenal and I don't have to cook," said Sue Slowik, tailgater. "I get to enjoy it. It's great."
Fans had their mobile tickets ready, but the tailgaters ABC7 spoke to were split on who they thought would win.
"I don't like to predict anything but I am hoping Bears by four," said Ron Milchhoefer.
"Bears vs. Packers opening day. Soldier Field. We got it all the way. All the way Bears," said Colleen Barton.
"I am going with the Green Bay Packers," said Devon Matter. "I think they are going to pull it out."
"The Bears are going to win," said Felicita Alvarado.
The city has security plans in place for Thursday to keep the crowds safe. Expect to go through bag checks and screenings.
At Soldier Field, the first 20,000 fans through the gate will receive a complimentary Mike Ditka bobblehead.
Thursday night's game is the 199th matchup between the Bears and Packers.
One of the biggest story lines this season is Mitchell's Trubisky and the Bears offense. Matt Nagy has been adamant about keeping his starters off the field during the pre-season and Packers head coach Matt LeFleur has followed a similar formula, so Thursday will not only be the first time the fans see these two teams in full, but it will also be Trubisky and Rodgers first look at each other this season. And Matt Nagy does not deny Aaron Rodgers is a daunting opponent.
"His game has proven over the years how special a quarterback he is," Nagy said. "He has done it his whole entire career, but you can't let that affect what you do, but anytime you have those type of quarterbacks, anything can happen and he has proven that over and over again."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.