Jay Cutler is one of the NFL's top quarterbacks. He was harassed into four interceptions, 47.2 percent accuracy and a 43.2 passer rating.
Greg Olsen is one of the NFL's top tight ends. He caught only one of the six passes thrown his way.
Outside of a couple of lapses, the Packers' defense had its way against a Bears offense that, even without Cutler last year, finished 14th in the NFL in scoring.
The key to the defense allowing only 13 points was the play of defensive ends Cullen Jenkins and Johnny Jolly. Jenkins was just about as dominant as his Chicago counterpart, Adewale Ogunleye, in recording six tackles, one sack, three tackles for losses and two hits on the quarterback. Jolly had an interception and tied for the team lead with eight tackles, many of which came with him hustling down the line of scrimmage.
"Cullen and Johnny both had excellent games," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said on Monday. "They both made big-time plays. I like the energy they played with. I thought they showed good athletic ability. We were in a lot of nickel defense, so they were the two guys in there. I think they did a good job of playing the run and putting pressure on the quarterback."
At the end of the game, Jenkins and Jolly were running on fumes. Of the Bears' 69 snaps on offense, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said Jenkins played 64 of them and Jolly 60. That was a byproduct of a number of factors, including the absence of first-round pick B.J. Raji (ankle) and because the defense played between 60 percent and 65 percent of its snaps in the nickel, which features only two defensive linemen.
"Well, it was a lot of nickel situations that we ended up playing," Trgovac said. "Those are the two guys that have been practicing a lot in nickel. From the sideline, it looked like they were playing real well so it was kind of hard to take them out."
Played well, indeed. Forte, who had more than 1,700 yards from scrimmage as a rookie, was held to 55 yards on 25 carries and failed to catch a pass. That dominance on Forte is a huge reason why the Bears converted only 4-of-15 third downs, including 0-for-7 in the first half.
"All of the things we like to do, if we don't stop the run, you can't do them," Capers said. "They're always keeping you at a disadvantage down and distance-wise. But if we can get them in advantageous down-and-distance situations, now we can do a lot of those things that you saw (Sunday) night. Cutler never really got comfortable in the pocket."
And because Cutler couldn't get comfortable, the Bears couldn't move the chains. The second of Cutler's interceptions came on third-and-goal from the 8. The third of the interceptions came on third-and-8. Third-and-long is Capers' time to unleash the hounds. The defense's third-down success was what Capers was most pleased with on Monday.
"Nothing's more frustrating than you go out there and hold them two downs to a couple yards and they convert it and get to start all over again," Capers said.
Coach Mike McCarthy said Jenkins, Jolly and linebacker Brandon Chillar won game balls for their play on defense.
Jolly was an active but sometimes undisciplined end in the old 4-3 scheme. His ability to get his 325 pounds moving up and down the line of scrimmage allowed him to make a lot of tackles but also took him out of position at times. Now, under Trgovac's guidance, Jolly remains active but is playing with more discipline. That discipline was evident on his interception, which killed a drive that had reached the Packers' 8-yard line.
Johnny Jolly drags down Devin Hester.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jenkins picked up where he left off last year, when his season ended with a torn pectoral in Week 4 at Tampa Bay. In those games, he had 2.5 sacks and 19 quarterback pressures.
"Cullen was very disruptive, played with a lot of violence," Trgovac said. "He played with a lot of passion and he's an extremely explosive guy. He caused disruption on the quarterback, caused disruption in the running game. It's really kind of what we expect him to do."
It's also what Capers envisioned when he took over as coordinator.
"I've said from the beginning that I think he would fit into any defensive scheme," Capers said. "Cullen's a 305-pound guy that has very good athletic ability. You can do an awful lot of things with a guy that has that kind of athletic ability. He's going to show up because of his quickness. He ended up in the backfield a few times. You saw him make some good tackles, knock-back tackles."
Without Raji and with backups Michael Montgomery and Jarius Wynn lacking the necessary bulk to hold up against the Bears' physical offensive line, Jolly and Jenkins were exhausted at the end of the game. When the Bears had first-and-goal at the 5 late in the game, a touchdown seemed like the likely culmination of a 14-play drive on a hot evening.
Instead, on first-and-goal at the 5-yard line, Ryan Pickett (25 snaps as the nose tackle in the base 3-4) stuffed a double team, allowing safety Aaron Rouse to slice in to slow Forte and for Pickett and Jolly to make the tackle. On second-and-goal from the 3, Jenkins beat Olsen's block to string the play outside and Pickett hustled down the line of scrimmage to help make the stop for no gain. On third-and-goal from the 3, with Jolly out after getting the wind knocked out of him on the previous play, Montgomery sliced into the backfield and forced a hurried throw from Cutler, which sailed over Olsen's head.
"You can see a little bit in their play that they were starting to get tired," Trgovac said. "They manned up and that was a big play, when Aaron (Rouse) came in and made the play on (Forte), and it happened to be Cullen and Pick on that one that converged on the back and didn't allow him to gain any more yardage. Johnny had some plays coming down the sideline at the end of the game where they were blocking down and pulling people. That's what we stress and that's Mike (McCarthy)'s whole program here is to practice hard and get a lot of reps so when it is the fourth quarter, you still want to be playing hard in the fourth quarter. It's something that Dom stresses and Mike stresses big time."
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