The Chicago Bears came out flat this afternoon and could never recover from a 14-0 first half deficit. The defense did its best to keep the team's hopes alive in the second half but ultimately, too many mistakes led to an ugly 27-17 loss.
The Bears were outgained 392 to 291 in total yards. The passing yardage was fairly even with Aaron Rodgers throwing or 292 yards and Jay Cutler passing for 278 yards. The disparity in yardage came in the respective run games of each team. The Packers picked up 100 yards on the ground, while Chicago's offense was only able to manage 13 yards on 12 carries.
-Just like in the 2010 NFC Championship game, the Packers exploded out of the gates, scoring touchdowns on two of their first three drives. This forced the Bears to play catch up for the remainder of the game, a role in which they hardly ever succeed.
WR Roy Williams
-WR Roy Williams was arguably the worst player on the field today. On the first play of the team's second drive, Williams beat his man on a double move and was wide open down the sideline. QB Jay Cutler threw an inside pass on which Williams didn't even bother to make a play. Instead, he watched S Morgan Burnett comes across the field and pick off the ball. Williams was targeted four times on the day and didn't catch a single pass. The most telling aspect of his performance came in the third quarter when Chicago had three straight plays within the Green Bay 10-yard line. Williams, a big-bodied wideout who should be able to excel near the end zone, wasn't on the field for any of those red-zone plays.
-The rest of the receivers also had their problems, culminating in a dropped pass by Knox on a crucial third down in the third quarter. Devin Hester had a few nice plays in space and Dane Sanzenbacher, filling in for Bennett, caught his second touchdown of the season, but overall, the Bears receiving corps underperformed for the second week in a row.
-Cutler was not sharp today. For most of the day, the offensive line did a good job of protecting him, yet he still wasn't able to hit his open targets. The team gave up three sacks but two of those were the result of Cutler hanging onto the ball too long. He looked rattled for most of the afternoon, even thought the pressure was nowhere near as fierce as it's been the past two weeks. He needs to calm down in the pocket and go back to the composed player he was this preseason.
-The biggest disappointment of the day was the running game. The front five did not open up any holes and RB Matt Forte was hit in the backfield on all but a couple of his nine carries. The team ended the day with 13 rushing yards but 10 of those came on a Cutler scramble after a botched snap on the second-to-last play of the game. The three yards they had up to that point would have been the lowest rushing total in any one Bears game since 1952. Last week, Martz ignored his running game. This week he had no choice but to continue dialing up pass plays.
-The safety situation was an issue all day, even though Brandon Meriweather had a solid performance. The veteran didn't give up any big plays and was tough in run support. His partner on the other hand, Craig Steltz, was burned early and often. He missed an open-field tackle in the first quarter, allowed a big third-down catch to Packers TE Jermichael Finley in the second half and gave up a touchdown to Finley on a blown coverage in the fourth quarter. He's been nothing more than a backup his whole career and it appears as if that is the role for which he's best suited.
-Speaking of Finley, he absolutely ate up the middle of Chicago's defense. Finley was unstoppable against safeties and linebackers, finishing the day with seven catches for 85 yards and three touchdowns. Yet it was hard for the Bears' secondary to key on Finley, as they also got torn up on the outside by Pro-Bowl receiver Greg Jennings. Jennings finished the game with 9 catches for 119 yards. No other Green Bay pass catcher had more than 40 yards receiving but the damage done by Finley and Jennings was more than enough to put the Packers on top.
-Lance Brigggs had an outstanding game today. He was unstoppable against the run, with two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. He finished the afternoon as the team's leading tackler with 14.
-Mental mistakes killed the Bears today. The team had 10 penalties for 70 yards. They seemed to come at the worst times too and one even cost the team a return touchdown.
-The biggest series in the game came after Brian Urlacher's interception midway through the fourth quarter. The Bears started with the ball in their own 45-yard line. It was the second turnover the defense had forced in as many series and, had the offense scored a touchdown on the following drive, it would have put the Bears within three points of tying the game up. Instead, a series of mistakes pushed the team back, ultimately leading to a 3rd down and 33 from their own 22-yard line. Chicago had to punt and wasted all of the momentum the defense had built. The game was over after that.
Follow me on Twitter: @BearReport
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.