-3rd and 3. QB Aaron Rodgers is in shotgun. TE Jermichael Finley is wide left. Chicago uses man coverage. LB Nick Roach is a few yards across from Finley. At the snap, Finley runs a slant pattern and leaves Roach in his dust. Rodgers hits him on a slant for 11 yards and a first down.
The week before, in Green Bay's only loss this season, the Kansas City Chiefs lined up an extra corner or safety across from Finley all game. They knew their linebackers had no chance covering him one on one. The strategy worked, as the Chiefs held Finley to just three catches on 10 targets. Yet the Bears didn't follow suit and instead chose to send Roach out wide on the big tight end. Roach falls back on his heels and is beat immediately. Finley caught three touchdowns the first time these two teams met this year. Chicago should have been more prepared to shut him down, especially with WR Greg Jennings out.
-A few plays later, Rodgers hits RB Ryan Grant on a screen play that goes for 32 yards. The player officially credited with the tackle was DT Stephen Paea. That's a 6-1, 300-pound lineman chasing down a running back 30 yards downfield – highly impressive.
TE Jermichael Finley
Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire
-2nd and goal from the 2-yard line. Rodgers lines up in shotgun with two receivers on either side of the line. Finley is wide left with Roach across from him. At the snap, Finley runs a slant pattern and Rodgers hits him for the easy touchdown.
Chicago tried to man up with Green Bay's receivers on this first drive, asking Roach to repeatedly cover Finley. He ended the drive with three catches for 20 yards and a TD. Roach has gotten better in coverage as the season has progressed but the Bears' coaches should have known Finley would be too much. Yet they stubbornly shoved Roach out there in man coverage on arguably the best tight end in the game. The Packers made them pay.
-1st and goal from the 3-yard line. Rodgers lines up in shotgun with two receivers to either side. From the left slot, Finley motions across the field wide right. That leaves just WR James Jones isolated out left with CB Zack Bowman. At the snap, Jones runs a quick slant and catches it easily for the touchdown.
Bowman had his worst game as a professional on Sunday. He was named the starter over Tim Jennings for the first time all season and he gave up three touchdowns, this being the first. The problem here was Bowman's positioning. He doesn't shade the receiver to either side, allowing him a free release in whichever direction he chooses. And instead of jamming the receiver, Bowman takes a step backward at the snap and allows Jones to get the easy separation he needs for the score.
-2nd and 9. Grants runs on a stretch play to the left. Peppers gets sealed on the edge and all three linebackers get caught up inside. Grant bounces it outside and takes off up the sideline. S Major Wright comes up to make the tackle but does nothing more than throw a shoulder at the ball carrier. Grant bounces off the shoulder and picks up an extra eight yards.
The three linebackers all failed to scrape outside, specifically Roach, who was lined up play side. Yet how can Peppers not set the edge against T Marshall Newhouse? He's Green Bay's fourth offensive tackle, playing only because of an injury to Chad Clifton. Peppers just stands there and never separates from the block, allowing Grant to easily bounce outside. And Wright needs to tackle better. He's struggled all year getting ball carriers down, and this missed tackle was just a lack of effort.
-1st and 10. RB James Starks runs on a sweep left. Peppers does a good job setting the edge and slowing the runner up. This allows Roach to scrape and force the runner back inside. At the same time, Paea fights through a double team – tossing one defenders aside and sidestepping another – then fights down the line to make the tackle near the sideline.
DT Stephen Paea
Paea led all defensive tackles with four tackles for the game. He has grown in leaps and bounds this year, and is just now hitting his stride. His strength and high motor have served him well in the second half of this season and he appears to be a long-term answer at DT for years to come.
-3rd and 7. Rodgers takes the snap from shotgun. He has time and finds Driver over the middle, underneath the linebackers, for a first down.
Rodgers, as was the case the entire game, had all day to throw on this one. The Packers were without their top three offensive tackles, yet the defensive line could not muster a single sack. I don't care how good the secondary is, if you give Rodgers time to throw, he's going to carve them up. Chicago did not blitz very much in this game, instead relying on the front four to get pressure. They failed miserably. As such, the defense gave up 35 points and the Bears were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
-2nd and goal from the 7. Jones is wide left with Bowman four yards across from him. Jones takes a few steps toward Bowman then heads left toward the front pylon. Rodgers uses a back-shoulder toss and the receiver pulls it in for the TD.
Again, Bowman failed to force Jones to one side and allowed him an easy release into the end zone. Bowman never looked at the quarterback and no idea the pass was coming. An easy pitch and catch for Green Bay's offense.
-The following drive, Bowman was flagged twice for pass interference and then gave up a touchdown to Nelson on a slant pattern. Chicago's coaches wanted a long look at Bowman in this game. I think it's safe to say he won't be on the team's roster next season.
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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.