Report Card: Packers vs. Bears

The pass defense and special teams get rave reviews after the Packers held off the Bears 10-3 to clinch a playoff berth on Sunday. However, the passing offense struggled and the rushing offense reverted to form.

PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus — At least the Green Bay Packers' bumbling offense got something right when Aaron Rodgers' well-disguised play-action fake out of the I formation resulted in an easy 1-yard touchdown toss to open tight end Donald Lee early in the fourth quarter for the deciding points. Other than two long pass plays between Rodgers and Greg Jennings for 33 and 46 yards, the latter of which set up the lone touchdown of the game, and a key third-down conversion for 21 yards to Donald Driver over the middle, the highlights paled in comparison to the lowlights. Driver was lax on getting his hands around the football, allowing cornerback D.J. Moore to poke it free for a fumble in Chicago territory. That was part of an ugly first half that included four drops (two by Jennings) and a holding penalty on right tackle Bryan Bulaga that wiped out a 33-yard catch-and-run for Jennings (four catches for 97 yards). Rodgers went 19-of-28 for 229 yards, absorbed two sacks and was off the mark on a few downfield throws, not to mention cornerback Charles Tillman's diving interception in front of Jennings.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D — So much for following through on a New Year's resolution of getting the running game finally up to speed in time for the postseason. Green Bay averaged only 2.6 yards, and the halfback trio of Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn and rookie James Starks combined for all of 39 yards in 16 carries. Starks, back on the field for the first time in three games, led the unproductive bunch with five rushes for 20 yards, though he had an 11-yard burst canceled by another Bulaga hold. That made Rodgers the top rusher with 22 yards in six attempts — not including a 1-yard loss as he took a knee to end the game. The Packers were miserable on back-to-back run plays on the goal line in the third quarter. Kuhn was stuffed for no gain on first down. Rodgers bungled a fake sneak into the line on the next play and made a bad lateral throw to Jackson on the outside for a 2-yard loss, and Green Bay ultimately held to settle for a score-tying field goal.

PASS DEFENSE: B-plus — To the surprise of many, the Bears went the distance with their starters, and that meant a whole lot of uncomfortable moments for quarterback Jay Cutler. The Packers were heavy with their pressure packages, which yielded a season-high-tying six sacks and two big interceptions by the defense. Unsung right-side linebacker Erik Walden dropped Cutler twice, including a blind-side hit on third-and-goal from the Green Bay 4-yard line in the second quarter that forced the Bears to kick a field goal for their only points. The Cutler picks came in the second half, thanks in part to slot cornerback Charles Woodson's liberal blitzing after halftime that caused happy feet and ill-advised downfield throws by the gambling quarterback. Charlie Peprah had an easy grab of Cutler's underthrown football to Johnny Knox in the end zone. Fellow safety Nick Collins snared a bad overthrow to Devin Hester inside the Packers' 15 to seal the victory. Although they held Cutler to woeful numbers of 21-of-39 for 168 yards and a 43.5 passer rating, the Packers weren't sharp in pass coverage. Halfback Matt Forte had eight catches for 60 yards, and Rashied Davis slipped free on slants and outs for seven receptions for 63 yards. Peprah got away with a tug of Knox's jersey on an incomplete pass in the end zone before Walden's clutch sack. The Packers also caught a huge break when Bears coach Lovie Smith called for timeout just as Cutler dropped back and hit Chester Taylor on a checkdown that picked up 16 yards on third-and-15 into Green Bay territory — Chicago failed to convert on the replay of the down.

A.J. Hawk grabs Matt Forte.
Tom Dahlin/Getty Images
RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus — Forte rushed for a robust average of 6.1 yards with 91 yards in 15 carries. Yet, Green Bay clamped down on him after Forte started like gangbusters with back-to-back runs of 25 and 21 yards and had 49 yards through the opening quarter. Misdirection was the Packers' undoing on those two explosive runs, and the second one was exacerbated by missed tackles from Peprah and linebacker Clay Matthews. Forte had only one significant carry thereafter — of 12 yards against a blitz — and managed just 37 yards in nine attempts in the second half. Taylor had only three carries for 11 yards, but Cutler converted a short third-down play with a 7-yard scramble.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus — Punter Tim Masthay arguably was the MVP of the game, as he all but made dangerous return man Devin Hester insignificant. Hester returned only two of Masthay's career-high-tying eight punts and totaled but 35 yards with a long of 19. Masthay expertly placed most of his kicks near the sideline, though his last two punts were down the middle and the most critical of the bunch. Hester waved off both of the high kicks inside the 10, and gunner Jarrett Bush covered both of them to pin the Bears at their 3 and 2 for their final two possessions as they tried to erase the 10-3 deficit. In all, Masthay had four punts inside the 20 and averaged 36.6 net yards. Hester's counterpart, Tramon Williams, ripped off a 41-yard punt return as he broke two tackles to start the offense in Chicago territory for its third-quarter drive that resulted in Mason Crosby's 23-yard field goal to tie the score. Williams, however, compiled only 9 yards in his other four returns. A mix of pop-up and deep kickoffs from Crosby limited the Bears' explosive Danieal Manning to an abysmal average of 15.5 yards. Patrick Lee replaced Sam Shields on kickoff returns for the Packers and averaged just 23.5 yards.

COACHING: B — The Packers came through with the second of two straight wins they needed to end the regular season with a playoff berth. Yet, they will go into the postseason fresh off an ugly performance by the offense coordinated by coach Mike McCarthy. His play-calling again was open to debate, particularly in the doomed goal-line sequence, though the failed sneak and toss by Rodgers was more about execution (or lack thereof). Defensive coordinator Dom Capers welcomed the Bears' approach of keeping Cutler in the whole game and wasn't bashful about sending a host of defenders at him. Woodson blitzed on 16 pass plays, the majority in the second half, and on a handful of run plays. Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum earned a reprieve from the disenchanted fans with a well-orchestrated scheme to harness Hester.

Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

Packer Report Top Stories