PLAY OF THE DAY
In a shootout in which both punters got to work on their tans, it seemed like the first team to get a big play from its defense would be the team that wins the game.
Sure enough, that first team was Green Bay. The Bears got 25 yards on a screen to Matt Forte and 20 yards on a run by Forte to move the ball to Green Bay’s 24 midway through the third quarter. On first down, the Packers were lined up in their 4-3 defense, with Clay Matthews lined up on the defense’s right side, about a step onside of slot receiver Alshon Jeffery.
“The back (Matt Forte) shifted out and that was a key,” Williams said. “You guys will probably go back and dissect the play. The back shifted out and at that point the back’s not going to shift out and stay in and block. He’s going to get out (in his pass route), so I moved in – that was the key. That’s the route concept that I’m looking for. It happened exactly the way I wanted it to except that I just didn’t catch it.”
But Matthews did. Williams read the play perfectly and burst forward before Jay Cutler released the ball. Williams dropped the interception but the ball fluttered into the air. Matthews, who is rushing the passer rather than dropping into coverage is a marvel. When Cutler throws the ball, Matthews is engaged with left tackle Jermon Bushrod at the 30-yard line on the right hashmarks. He retreated to catch the ball at the 25 just to the left of the hashmarks.
PLAYER OF THE DAY
Of course, it’s Rodgers, though this should be shared between Rodgers, Nelson, Randall Cobb and the offensive line.
Rodgers put up huge numbers – as he usually does after a subpar game. Rodgers completed 22-of-28 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns. His passer rating of 151.2 was close to the top of the NFL’s 158.3 rating system. The Packers never punted and didn’t get close too often, with Green Bay facing only eight third downs in seven possessions. The pass protection was tremendous. Rodgers was sacked only once – a scramble for zero yards – and, officially, the Bears didn’t record a single quarterback hit.
“We had some good execution,” Rodgers said. “I think the key to being like today, where you’re trying to be aggressive and you’re throwing it a lot and early, is protection, which was great. I barely got touched most of the day, which will be nice with a short week coming up. But we had a lot of confidence going in, just knew we had to execute. Jordy and Randall made a lot of plays today. We didn’t run as well as we wanted to but we scored quickly and almost every time.”
THE CRYSTAL BALL
The defense gave up 496 yards and an appalling 33 first downs to a high-powered Bears offense that was without two starting offensive linemen and had shown no running game whatsoever. Then again, it intercepted two passes and had a chance for three others. It didn’t recover a fumble but the ball was on the ground three times. And, in the only thing that matters, the Packers allowed only 17 points – including zero in the second half.
To be sure, Green Bay’s defense is going to have to improve during the final three months of the season. The question is, will this defense be like the 2011 model, which gave up tons of yards and forced a bunch of turnovers – only for the turnover well to go dry against playoff-caliber offenses? Or can the defense put together full games like it did the second half against the Jets, the first half against Detroit and the second half against Chicago?
1: Win in 10 career starts for Jay Cutler against the Packers. He’s thrown 13 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in those games.
2: Takeaways by the Packers, who won the turnover battle 2-0. With some luck, they could have had 8. The others: Dropped interceptions by Sam Shields (first possession) and Jamari Lattimore (second possession), Tramon Williams’ diving attempt at an interception in the fourth quarter, Davon House’s strip and two botched center-quarterback exchanges.
5: Consecutive victories by Green Bay at Soldier Field. That’s tied for the second-longest streak in series history, with the Packers winning five straight at Chicago from 1928 through 1930 and an amazing 11 in a row from 1994 through 2005.
5: In his last five games after a sub-200-yard passing game, Aaron Rodgers has thrown 17 touchdowns and one interception with a 122.8 rating, with Green Bay going 5-0.
5: Plays of at least 20 yards by Green Bay’s offense. The Packers didn’t have any last week against Detroit.
7: Touchdowns in the last five regular-season games by Randall Cobb, including back-to-back two-score games at Chicago.
19: Consecutive successful field-goal attempts by Mason Crosby in the regular season, a streak snapped with the fourth-quarter block.
20: Points per game allowed by Green Bay’s defense the last three weeks.
33: First downs allowed by the Packers, the most since at least 1981. It’s the most allowed in a regular-season game since giving up 33 against Detroit in 1984 and Washington in the famous 1983 game. The Packers hadn’t given up 30 first downs since the 1999 finale against Arizona.
38: Points by the Packers.
47: Plays by the Packers.
68.7: Difference in passer ratings between Rodgers (151.2) and Cutler (82.5).
116: Yards after the catch (unofficially) on Rodgers’ 22 completions. That’s 5.27 per completion. It was just 4.89 (officially) entering the game. The YAC total was limited because all four touchdowns were completed in the end zone.
151.2: Rodgers’ passer rating – the second-best in his career. He had a 155.4 mark against Cleveland in 2009.
235: Rushing yards by the Bears. They had only 192 entering the game.
302: Passing yards by Rodgers on Sunday. In his 15 career games in which he’s thrown for less than 200 yards, he’s averaged 302.0 yards the following week.
496: Yards allowed by the Packers, the most in a regular-season game since yielding 575 in the shootout against Detroit to complete the 2011 season.
700: Wins in franchise history by the Packers. Chicago (732) is the only other team in the NFL with 700 wins.
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