Amazingly, Jay Cutler turned the ball over less than Aaron Rodgers, who needed almost three full quarters to get his bearings in an NFL game once again. At some point, he realized he’s facing the Chicago Bears, a team he and the Green Bay Packers almost always beat, and things starting going a bit more smoothly for him, resulting in throwing a game winning and season saving touchdown pass to Randall Cobb.
Rodgers was out of commission for nearly two months, and Cobb was out for even longer. That didn’t’ stop one of the more productive QB-WR duos in the NFL over the last three years to come up with the flashy ending after struggling for most of the game. Aaron Rodgers was intercepted twice in the first half, but got his bearings in the second half, throwing a touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the third quarter to put Green Bay in the lead again (20-14 at the time) and then again to Cobb with 38 seconds left to claim the 33-28 win, the NFC North first place and one of the remaining playoff spots, while the Chicago Bears, for a third straight year, go home early.
It’s as if everything was set up for that moment, as Rodgers’ pass traveled 38 yards beyond the line of scrimmage to win the game. It was his first attempt for 30 yards or more in the entire game, which is odd considering how badly the Bears (allowing 8-of-15) defend on such passes, allowing almost double the success rate than the rest of the league does (29.6%). Rodgers’ two completions to Cobb came when he escaped the pockets, both resulting in touchdowns. There were the only two times Rodgers targeted Cobb as well.
We had a blitz on. We lost an edge. Aaron was able to get outside. Once he got outside things happen. When you’ve got a zero blitz on things can happen. And we just lost coverage with our eyes in the backfield.
No one was blaming Cutler. For the first time in his career against the Packers, he finished with more touchdown passes than interceptions, and that turnover came on the final play of the game with a desperation pass. He completed 15-of-24 passes, finding Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte in the endzone, as the Cowboys were leading by 8 points entering the final 14:55 of the game. The defense couldn’t stop Eddie Lacy from getting in the endzone despite doing a good job in slowing him down (61 yards, 21 carries), and messed up the blitz and coverage in the end as Rodgers connected with Cobb for the touchdown.
For the Bears, it’s an offseason of trying to revamp the declining defense and making the decision about Cutler and their franchise quarter. The less banged up than before Packers play in the playoffs for a fifth straight season, facing a rival they’ve lost to quite a lot in recent years, the San Francisco 49ers. It was an incredible game between the two to start the season, but things will be very different in Lambeau when the two teams meet next, as Rodgers and company should be quite thankful for the successful tune up against the Bears.