X-and-O Show: Packers vs. Bears

Doug Farrar goes to the film room once again and analyzes the key moments — Rodgers not seeing Lee in the end zone on first-and-goal and the big third-down completion that set up Chicago's winning field goal in overtime on Monday night.

Packers on Offense: The Unseen Lee
On a drive that started on their 30-yard line with 1:57 left in the third quarter, the Packers marched to the Chicago 5 with 13:48 left in the game.

On first-and-goal from the 5, the Packers lined up in an I-formation, with tight ends Donald Lee and Tory Humphrey outside left tackle. The Bears overloaded their right side with linebacker Nick Roach and cornerback Corey Graham, and Graham trailed Humphrey when he motioned from left to right pre-snap. Humphrey sat in the right H-back position.

At the snap, Aaron Rodgers gave play action to halfback Ryan Grant and rolled left. Humphrey headed straight upfield between right guard Jason Spitz and right guard Tony Moll, engaging with Graham before starting a corner route at about the 2-yard line. At the same time, Greg Jennings came inside from wide right, trying to give Rodgers something at the goal line, but he was covered by cornerback Charles Tillman. Grant got a free release on safety Craig Steltz at the 5, but by that time, Rodgers had set and thrown past Humphrey in the end zone. The coverage was too tight, and Humphrey never had a chance with where the ball was thrown.

Doug Farrar diagrams what happened on first-and-goal early in the fourth quarter.
Doug Farrar/FootballOutsiders.com
Now, the controversy surrounding this play was that Lee was open in the left side of the end zone. However, I don't see how Rodgers could have made that throw. By the time Lee had chipped Roach and made his way to the end zone, Rodgers had taken his glance to the middle of the field and was about to look and roll right. Whether he should have looked back to Lee before rolling right is another matter, but as it stood, by the time Lee was open, Rodgers would have had to throw across his body and against his momentum to make that play. That's not a throw I'd trust most quarterbacks to make.

Green Bay's real problem on this play was that Graham read play action correctly and didn't bite on the run. He stayed with Humphrey from the snap, which allowed him to backtrack into the end zone when Humphrey passed him. This play was less about Lee being open and Rodgers missing him, and more about Chicago's ability to correctly react to Green Bay's tendencies. Two plays later, the Packers were forced to settle for a field goal — and a tenuous 17-10 lead.

Packers on Defense: The Hawk/Collins Collision
Four plays into overtime, and two plays after Aaron Rouse's horse-collar tackle on Bears tight end Greg Olsen took the ball from the Chicago 33 to the Green Bay 35, the Bears went shotgun with Matt Forte on Kyle Orton's right. Orton took the snap out of a three-receiver set, and the Packers playing tight inside. Safety Nick Collins was playing at the line on tight end Desmond Clark, and when linebacker Brandon Chillar came up to the left B-gap to blitz, A.J. Hawk was the only linebacker off the line. At the snap, Hawk moved into Collins' area to help cover Clark, with the intention of handing Devin Hester off to Collins.

But when Clark ran upfield and Hester ran a mini-cross, Collins and Hawk got their wires crossed, bumped into each other, and allowed Forte to hit the right flat unobstructed, catch the swing pass from Orton, and rumble upfield for 14 yards. Hawk regained his bearings and made the sideline tackle, but that play turned third-and-9 into first-and-10.

This wasn't a pick per se in that one player wasn't using leverage to obstruct, but offenses often will run crossing routes to create positional confusion in defenses, and this was a perfect example of that. The timing was perfect in getting Hawk and Collins together, and preventing them from taking their assignments. With the ball on the Green Bay 23, the Bears ran two more plays and kicked the winning field goal.

Doug Farrar writes for FootballOutsiders.com. He is also a panelist for The Washington Post and a contributor to The Seattle Times.

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