Here are some quick observations from the Green Bay Packers’ 31-23 win over the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday.
The Packers overcame some penalty problems by making big plays. Receiver James Jones made an impressive catch over cornerback Alan Ball for a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. He also made a 34-yard reception with Ball in tight coverage in the second quarter.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, as always, stood out. The Bears blitzed him on third downs in the second half, and he made them pay with quick completions and scrambles. The Packers converted three third downs and a fourth down on a scoring drive.
Davante Adams also made a 25-yard catch down to the Bears’ 6, getting his knee down before falling out of bounds. Bears coach John Fox challenged it, but lost.
Packers linebacker Clay Matthews read quarterback Jay Cutler perfectly and stepped in front of a pass intended for tight end Martellus Bennett late in fourth quarter. That was the game.
The fourth quarter was a struggle for the Bears’ offense. They failed to score on a fourth-down attempt from the Packers’ two-yard line when Cutler was pressured and overthrew Eddie Royal in the end zone.
A methodical approach
The Bears promised to run the ball and did just that. The Bears controlled the clock in the first half, having the ball for 7 minutes, 20 seconds longer than the Packers, and successfully kept Rodgers off the field. It was a big difference from the Marc Trestman’s offense, where the run was quickly disbanded.
Running back Matt Forte had 16 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He reached 21 carries in the third quarter. Even Cutler got into the mix. Instead of forcing throws, Cutler tucked the ball and ran often. He even kept the ball on a read-option play early in the game.
Overall, it was a strong gameplan that was effectively run in the first half. It kept the game close and seemingly gave the Bears a chance. But Rodgers became Rodgers in the second half as the Packers simply made more big plays than the Bears.
A learning experience
Kyle Long should have been moved to right tackle long ago. He has the ability to handle the position, but considerable practice work was needed. Instead, he had a baptism by fire against outside linebackers Julius Peppers, Mike Neal and others.
Long appeared to do fine on run calls as the Bears piled up yardage, but his learning experiences were apparent when Cutler dropped to pass.
In the first quarter, Peppers beat Long, sacked Cutler and forced and recovered a fumble. The Bears were fortunate, though. It was reviewed and overturned because Cutler was down before losing the ball.
In the third quarter, Neal beat Long on an inside move and pressured Cutler, who escaped and completed a pass to Bennett.
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