Report Card: Packers-Bears

There are plenty of high marks from Sunday's game, led by the Packers' suffocating run defense that held the Bears to 4 yards before Jay Cutler's scramble on a fumble in the final moments. Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Grant led a strong performance by the offense.

PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus — Aaron Rodgers produced only his second passer rating in the 100s in eight starts against the Bears — and his first in five appearances at Chicago — thanks mostly to the mismatches exploited with receiver Greg Jennings and tight end Jermichael Finley. Chicago's mix of Cover-2 and Cover-3 schemes were ineffective against Jennings, who had a career-high nine catches for 119 yards. Finley, meanwhile, was head and shoulders better and a few steps quicker than any defensive back or linebacker who tried to keep up with him, grabbing all three touchdown throws from Rodgers in the game as part of a seven-catch, 85-yard effort. Rodgers finished 28-of-38 for 297 yards and three touchdowns with a rating of 111.4. His one and only interception this season came on a dart to Finley down the seam in the fourth quarter, and Bears All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher made an unbelievable play as he faked a blitz and dropped back into coverage and lunged in front of Finley for the pick. The two sacks of Rodgers, both in the first half, were on tackles Chad Clifton (beat by end Julius Peppers on the first one) and Marshall Newhouse (beat by tackle Henry Melton on a stunt), who had replaced an injured Bryan Bulaga on the right side. The offensive line was guilty of seven more penalties (five accepted), and Rodgers incurred two delay-of-game infractions.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B — The Packers attained the century mark in rushing yards for the third time in as many outings this season, hitting it right on the nose with 100 yards. Ryan Grant turned a season-high 17 carries into 92 yards. His average of 5.4 yards per rush was built on five runs of at least 10 yards (long of 14) and two other runs of 9 yards. He excelled on his cutbacks into big holes consistently created by seal blocks on the front side. Grant bogged down the last 20 minutes of the game with seven carries for only 7 yards, but he also played hurt after taking a shot to the mouth and suffering a kidney bruise. James Starks was held to five yards in 11 carries and turned the ball over on a fourth-quarter fumble as he failed to secure it tightly on the handoff, allowing linebacker Lance Briggs to knock it out.

PASS DEFENSE: B-minus — Holding a quarterback to less than 400 passing yards was a big step in the right direction for the league's worst pass defense. Jay Cutler threw for 302 yards, but the Packers did more good things than bad to limit the damage. In Green Bay's first full game without Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, who is out with a season-ending neck injury, Morgan Burnett filled the playmaking void on the back end nicely with two interceptions. Both came on Cutler deep balls intended for Roy Williams. While the second miscue by Cutler was on a bad overthrow down the middle, Burnett showed nice range to get over and bail out cornerback Tramon Williams, who was beaten on a double move near the sideline, for the first pick. All three sacks of Cutler (21-of-37, 78.9 rating) came in the second half, two by emerging end Jarius Wynn. However, all but one of the sacks were of the coverage variety as Cutler held onto the ball too long. Charlie Peprah, the starting replacement for Collins, was a liability in pass coverage. He was at least partially responsible for a 40-yard reception by Johnny Knox and gave up a 32-yard catch-and-run touchdown by tight end Kellen Davis, who broke three tackles.

RUSH DEFENSE: A-plus — Green Bay solidified its early-season status as the league's top run defense by giving up all of 13 yards in 12 rushing attempts by the Bears. The Packers have allowed just 165 yards on the ground through three weeks. Jumping out to a 14-0 lead and never having the advantage dip below a touchdown helped turned Chicago into a one-dimension offense Sunday. However, the Packers dictated a lot of that, too, by being the decidedly more aggressive and quicker team off the snap on those few run plays. Cutler accounted for 11 of the positive yards with three scrambles. Featured back Matt Forte was rendered obsolete with only two yards in nine carries. His long run covered just five yards, and six of his rushes were for negative yards. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews, better known for his pass-rushing prowess, dumped Forte twice behind the line of scrimmage, including an impressive takedown for minus-4 when Matthews shot right past the tardy pulling blocker to reach Forte on the handoff. Defensive lineman Ryan Pickett also had a big negative-play stuff of Forte.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus — A holding penalty on Corey Graham or no holding penalty, Green Bay's punt-coverage unit was mightily duped on the Bears' trick play that set up an 89-yard touchdown return by Knox in the final minute of the game, only to have it wiped out by the penalty. Incidentally, the 35-yard pooch kick by Tim Masthay to the sideline inside the 20 was the best from an execution standpoint of his six punts in the game. He averaged 38.2 gross yards (long of 47) and 33.2 net, but the focus was on directional kicking with his Australian-style punts to keep Devin Hester from running wild. Hester managed only one punt return, though it went for 21 yards, and his lone kickoff return was for an insignificant 24 yards. The Bears averaged only 21.3 yards on kickoff runbacks, and Mason Crosby had three touchbacks. The Packers didn't return any kickoffs, and Randall Cobb averaged a pedestrian 7.8 yards in five punt returns. Crosby connected on both of his field-goal attempts to stay perfect this season.

COACHING: B — A resounding win against a division rival on the road has the Packers off to a 3-0 start for the first time in four years. The decision to take the ball first after winning the coin toss paid off right away with an opening-drive touchdown, and Green Bay had the Bears on their heels the rest of the way. Head coach/play caller Mike McCarthy recognized the mismatches with Jennings and Finley against Chicago's short-handed secondary and allowed Rodgers to attack early and often with his two favorite targets. McCarthy also rode the hot back in Grant to keep the game plan for the offense in effective balance. Coordinator Dom Capers has the run defense playing at an almost-fearsome level for any team that wants to try to pound the football. The pass defense improved with cornerback Tramon Williams back in action after missing a game with a shoulder injury. Capers, though, will have to contemplate going more with versatile Charles Woodson in the safety role the veteran assumed periodically Sunday given the coverage lapses by Peprah with Collins sidelined. Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum can thank the debatable penalty on the Bears for his punt-coverage unit not being completely embarrassed on the trick play late in the game.

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