Jay Cutler was a decent low-level game manager for most of the day but faltered when asked to make the difference — three incompletions from the 2 on one fourth-quarter series, then the killer interception. He is what he is.
Matt Forte thrived with a heavy workload. He rushed for 141 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and caught five passes for 25 yards, though he had a bad drop on a deep ball. Jacquizz Rodgers (4-16) ran tough inside.
Alshon Jeffery (5 catches, 78 yards), Eddie Royal (1-8) and Marquess Wilson (2-59) were in a tough spot coming off injuries. Wilson had a 50-yard reception. Martellus Bennett (5-55) had a 24-yard TD that made it 31-23. But nobody made Cutler look like Aaron Rodgers.
With Kyle Long starting for the first time at right tackle and newcomer Vladimir Ducasse replacing Long at right guard, this could have been a disaster. Mistakes were made, but the Bears had 402 yards of offense, including 189 rushing. That’s a good start.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio experimented with a lot of combinations, so it was no surprise that nobody stood out. Rookie Eddie Goldman had a tackle for loss. Jarvis Jenkins batted a Rodgers pass at the line.
It’s a little too much to ask for playmakers to emerge in Game 1 against Aaron Rodgers. And they didn’t. Rodgers was not sacked and faced very little pressure. Shea McClellin (8 tackles), Christian Jones (7) and Pernell McPhee (6) led the way. But it’s early.
Aaron Rodgers threw for only 189 yards — but also for three touchdowns. Alan Ball was victimized twice by James Jones, but there wasn’t much he could do on the first one. Rookie safety Adrian Amos had five tackles, including a tackle for loss, in his NFL debut.
Robbie Gould connected from 50, 44 and 28 yards to set a Bears career record for field goals (246). The Packers won the return game. Rookie Ty Montgomery had kickoff returns of 46 and 41 yards. Marc Mariani’s longest kickoff return was 25 yards.
With all the changes at Halas Hall since last season, John Fox’s Bears played the Packers and Rodgers better than most expected. If this is just the start, it was a pretty good one.