Khalil Mack was dominant in the Bears’ 24-17 victory Sunday against the Packers, but fellow outside linebacker Leonard Floyd also proved to be a major nuisance for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
‘‘He was everywhere,’’ coach Matt Nagy said. ‘‘Talk about relentless.’’
That showed up on tape, too. Here are five takeaways after watching the film of the Bears’ NFC North-clinching victory:
Focusing on Floyd
After the game, Rodgers was asked about Mack and ended up praising Floyd and the rest of the Bears’ defensive line.
‘‘You’re pairing him with Floyd, who is a legitimate pass rusher; Eddie [Goldman], who has had a great season; [and] Akiem [Hicks], who is very disruptive,’’ Rodgers said. ‘‘It’s a tough front.’’
Floyd, in particular, was tough all game. He stopped Packers running backs for gains of one, two and two yards, but it was his two sacks in the fourth quarter that were decisive.
The first came on the play immediately after running back Tarik Cohen lost a fumble. The second came on second-and-goal from the Bears’ 9 in the final minute. The Packers were forced to settle for a field goal after he brought down Rodgers for an 18-yard loss.
On both plays, Floyd limited his rush against left tackle David Bakhtiari. The Bears didn’t want Rodgers to escape the pocket and improvise.
‘‘We knew we just had to rush as a unit,’’ Floyd said. ‘‘We stayed in our lanes and didn’t give him too many opportunities to break the pocket and make big throws.’’
Floyd also redeemed himself with his second sack. Six plays earlier, he missed Rodgers on fourth-and-six when Rodgers sidestepped his stunt inside Roy Robertson-Harris.
‘‘I was just hoping that I got another chance to finish him off, and I’m glad I did,’’ said Floyd, who has 5½ sacks in six career games against the Packers. ‘‘It was a big win for us.’’
An underrated part of the Bears’ victory was the sequence of events late in the second quarter that ended with Cohen’s 12-yard touchdown catch.
A Bears drive stalled on the Packers’ 40, but punter Pat O’Donnell pinned the Packers at their 4. It was a perfect punt that was caught by receiver Josh Bellamy.
The Bears’ defense responded by forcing a three-and-out. The best play came from — who else? — Floyd. He fended off right tackle Jason Spriggs and tackled running back Jamaal Williams, who gained only two yards on third-and-three.
The Bears regained possession on their 39. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky then put together a
five-play, 61-yard scoring drive. Cohen broke off a 22-yard run through a hole created by right guard Bryan Witzmann and right tackle Bobby Massie.
Trubisky was 3-for-4 for 39 yards on the drive, including a run-pass option to tight end Trey Burton, a dart to Bellamy on a post route despite facing a backside blitz and a checkdown completion to Cohen, who turned and raced into the end zone. Trubisky’s one incomplete pass was a throwaway after he escaped pressure.
Feeling things out
The best part of Trubisky’s performance was his feel for pressure against a Packers defense that used a variety of blitzes. It looked innate.
‘‘[Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine] actually doesn’t show many tendencies, which makes it tough,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘We break down the numbers, and he obviously self-scouts a lot and mixes it up, which makes it hard on quarterbacks.’’
But it was Trubisky who made life hard for Pettine. The Packers sacked him once, and Trubisky fumbled on the play in the third quarter. But he still stepped up in the pocket and nearly got his pass off to tight end Ben Braunecker. Trubisky only lost the ball when it struck left guard James Daniels’ helmet. Daniels recovered it.
On the next play, Trubisky escaped outside linebacker Clay Matthews’ rush, rolled to his left, kept his eyes down the field and completed a 14-yard pass to receiver Taylor Gabriel for a
‘‘For the most part in the second half, we shut down the [Bears’] run game and forced him to beat us,’’ Matthews said of Trubisky. ‘‘He made some plays, no doubt.’’
Seeing is believing
Nagy said Trubisky’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Burton was one that he threw with conviction. Why is that?
‘‘I saw it cleanly,’’ Trubisky said.
He saw the Packers in cover-2. Rookie cornerback Tony Brown stayed in the left flat, and Burton easily cut away from safety Josh Jones on his corner route.
‘‘He ran a great route, so I just ripped it,’’ Trubisky said.
Trubisky’s lack of hesitation also was a sign of his faith in Burton. On the Bears’ previous possession, Burton failed to haul in consecutive passes on first and second downs, even though they looked catchable. Trubisky later scrambled for a first down on third-and-10.
Here comes Roquan
One notable difference between the Bears’ season-opening loss in Green Bay and their victory Sunday was the playing time of rookie linebacker Roquan Smith.
He was on the field for every defensive snap but one after getting only eight plays in Week 1
in the wake of his late signing because of his contract dispute. Rodgers definitely noticed him.
‘‘They were a great defense [in Week 1],’’ Rodgers said. ‘‘Looks like Roquan is playing more. Obviously, he’s a really good player.’’
Smith got his left hand on Rodgers’ pass to tight end Jimmy Graham, which led to safety Eddie Jackson’s interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter.
Smith also made 10 tackles, according to press-box statisticians. It was the sixth time this season Smith made double-digit tackles, including five times in the last seven games.
‘‘You just turn on the tape, and it looks like he’s rushing to the left,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘And there’s a throw to the right to the sideline, and all of the sudden this laser — whoosh! — just comes flying across and makes the tackle. It happens all the time. He’s got tremendous speed. He creates a lot of impact at the tackle point. He brings it, and he’s only going to get better.’’