Khalil Mack just missed a chance to swipe at Aaron Rodgers in the pocket early in the game, but a moment later, Leonard Floyd jumped in to finish the job. As Rodgers lay on his back reeling from the sack, Mack came over and sinisterly smacked the ball out of his hand.
He left much more somberly.
Mack was one of the first players to leave the field, walking directly to the tunnel after the Packers beat the Bears 10-3 on Thursday. He ducked out of the locker room quickly and quietly, not wanting to share his thoughts on what was surely a brutal disappointment.
The Bears’ defense held Rodgers to a pedestrian night and kept the Packers to 213 total yards, but it wasn’t enough as their offense floundered. Afterward, the defensive players absurdly tried to take their share of the blame.
“I mean, they scored,” Floyd said. “We’ve just gotta keep them from scoring, plain and simple.”
If it’s going to take shutouts to win, this season isn’t going anywhere near the Bears’ lofty dreams of a Super Bowl trip.
They started ferociously, but one lapse against Rodgers was all it took. After three consecutive three-and-outs to open the game, much to the delight of new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, the Packers ended the first quarter with minus-12 total yards.
It was the first time they were held to negative yards through three possessions with Rodgers at quarterback.
But he got the Bears on the next one. At the start of the second quarter, he delivered a haymaker by hitting Marquez Valdes-Scantling for 47 yards down the middle of the field, beating Prince Amukamara.
Rodgers completed passes on the next three plays, the final one an eight-yarder through traffic to tight end Jimmy Graham with safety Deon Bush on his back. The Bears had 12 men on the field for that one and still couldn’t stop it.
“We knew they would take a shot, and . . . that play kinda hit us in the mouth,” Amukamara said of the strike to Valdes-Scantling. “Aaron took advantage of that by going hurry-up and he caught us with 12 men on the field and threw a Hail Mary, kind of, to Graham.
‘‘Once we got that taken care of, we did pretty good the rest of the game.”
Indeed. Aside from that drive, which covered 74 yards in a staggering 95 seconds, Rodgers went 14 of 26 for 129 yards.
The Packers also had a miserable time trying to run on the Bears. They had seven yards on six attempts in the first half and averaged 2.1 yards for the game.
“I wouldn’t say I’m pleased with it,” safety Eddie Jackson said. “It probably sounds crazy, but we [want to] hold them to zero points. That’s a goal of ours, but it’s tough.”
That does sound a little crazy. Holding Rodgers to 10 points ought to be enough to win.
On the other side of the ball, though, the Bears mustered a lone field goal. Their only red-zone trip ended in a Mitch Trubisky interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter.
That’s where it can get awkward in a locker room. No matter what the defensive players say publicly, there’s no doubt they know that was a performance worthy of a victory. But they can’t get into a blame game with the offense, especially this early in the season.
“It’s not frustrating,” Floyd said. “Our job as a defense is to stop them from scoring and get three-and-outs. That’s our mindset.”
The Bears sacked Rodgers five times on the Packers’ first nine possessions. Floyd had two, and Roy Robertson-Harris, Akiem Hicks and Aaron Lynch had one each. Four of those were drive-enders on third downs, and Green Bay went 0-for-7 on third downs in the first half.
“The sad thing about it is it doesn’t count when you lose,” Jackson said.