For once, it wasn’t Aaron Rodgers and his vast & impressive crew of receivers that carried the Green Bay Packers to victory, their first of this NFL Season. This time, it was the defense, usually criticized for being pretty bad, that dealt most of the damage to the Chicago Bears and mostly Jay Cutler, beating their division rivals 23-10.
While the Packers’ defense was the worst in the NFL last season in yards allowed (411.6 per game), they’ve always been very strong in the secondary when it came to creating turnovers, leading the league last season in interceptions with 31 and tied for the lead with the San Francisco 49ers for forced turnovers with 38. After getting a lesson from the 49ers, right now the early favorites to take the NFC, as how a defense and efficient offense should play, the Packers simply opened up the notebook and brought it on the Bears.
Not that Chicago didn’t have it coming. Jay Cutler is one of those guys that’s good, but easily falls into a sense of confidence even when he should be a bit more modest, a bit more careful, a bit more cautious. The Packers swallowed his “good luck” comment from earlier this week and the whole notion that the Bears, just because of a new receiver, are now the team to beat in the NFC North.
The Packers played with a grudge, and the Bears didn’t come back. Clay Matthews and the blitz package on 13 of the 35 dropbacks by Cutler were very effective. Even when he wasn’t sacked (and he was sacked seven times, 3.5 going to Matthews himself), he was roughed up. Like an entire team on a mission to hurt the quarterback, and the Bears’ offensive line and entire team as a whole couldn’t come up with the plan and the right kind of motivation to stop them. Cutler screamed at his left tackle J’Marcus Webb who was tortured by the Packers defense.
And there were the four interceptions. Two of them to Tramon Williams, two more picked up by Jerron McMillan and Charles Woodson. Jay Cutler and his offense were not on the same page the entire night, with Brandon Marshall ending up with only two catches and 24 yards. A huge hit was Matt Forte picking up an ankle injury, and Michael Bush was much easier to handle.
On offense, it didn’t go easy for the Packers, until the fake field goal play late in the second quarter, as punter Tim Masthay flipped the ball to backup tight end Tom Crabtree, scoring the touchdown.
I saw Crabby running out the back side, I couldn’t believe it. That’s a gutsy call. A gutsy call. You’ve got to score on that. (Aaron Rodgers)
Reportedly, the Packers have been working on this play for a couple of seasons now, and McCarthy felt it was the spark the offense needed to get their scoring going against a very good Bears defense. I was trying to send our team a message when I did call it. frankly, I would have been fine with the field position.
Aaron Rodgers? Quiet night, with 219 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The Bears prevented the deep ball, but the Packers, unorthodox for them, were very aggressive on the ground, giving Cedric Benson 20 carries for 81 yards, while Rodgers mostly settled for short passes on screens and slants, which was just fine.
Maybe that was the lesson the 49ers taught them. Finding a new way to win. Rodgers might be the best quarterback in the NFL, but whatever worked two years ago just isn’t enough in 2012, and having the option of a running game and your defense creating plays and points for you surely doesn’t hurt.