Packers 10 Bears 3: Defense Rules the Day

ALLGBP.com All Green Bay Packers All the Time

The Packers and the Bears met for the 181st time today. As would only seem appropriate for these two long-time rivals, defense ruled the day, with the Packers pulling out a do-or-die 10-3 victory. Yes, they’re in the playoffs. Bring on Michael Vick.

Oh, and thank you Lovie Smith for playing the game to win. The Packers had to beat your best to get in and that’s the way it should be.

My game day impressions:

PREGAME:

As tweeted by Mike Vandermause, this is first time in history of Packers-Bears series that both teams enter game with 9 or more wins.

MY KEY TO THE GAME: If I had to pick JUST ONE thing, it would be this: Protect Aaron Rodgers.

The Bears come in with one of the best front sevens in the league.  As I said in a previous article:

They’re not going to dominate the Chicago DL, but they don’t need to. Like last week against the Giants, they just have to hold them off long enough to give Rodgers some clear looks in the Bears secondary.

My 1A key to the game: This could be a toss-up between avoiding Devin Hester and harassing  Jay Cutler. Assuming the Packers meet the goal of my #1 key, there won’t be many punt return opportunities for Hester, so I’ll go with pressuring Jay Cutler. Make him uncomfortable and the mistakes will follow.

Inactive for Green Bay on Sunday:

Green Bay inactives: Harrell, Bigby, Hall, Gordy, Zombo, Dietrich-Smith, McDonald and Jenkins.

Erik Walden will start at ROLB for Zombo.

Jenkins, out once again. Will he be back if (when) Packers play in the playoffs?

James Starks (Neo) is active today!

MM Comments on WTMJ Pregame show:

We’re not paying attention to what else is going on. We’re focused on winning  the football game and playing our best football.

Physicality: We stress it all the time. Ability to play your best football at the end of the year. When you pass a lot, people think you’re not physical. That’s not the case at all.

Aaron is a pro bowl quarterback. Strength is his intelligence, reading defenses. Statistically, he was not where he normally is early in the season. I just feel he’s now back to normal. He’s doing an excellent job in the pocket with his feet.

Bears: Exactly the same team we saw back in September. Playing with a lot more continuity. Hester having his finest season – biggest impact player on their football team.

Cutler’s improvement: You’re seeing a QB more on the same page with his offensive coordinator.

Mike Tice has done a great job with the OL – biggest improvement in the Bears.

Very important for us to play at a high level on special teams. We have to be disciplined.

Bears have three top returners. We need to make tackles and get off blocks. Special teams has been a key to the bears success

THE GAME:

Packers Organization choose not to show the Giants score at Lambeau – I like that.

Excellent early read by Rodgers as he audibles to a quick slant to the area vacated by a blitzing DB.

I say this every week, but I’d really like to see the Packers try to block a punt – at least once.

I hate to say this, but Aaron Rodgers throws a poor screen pass.

Donald Driver, trying to get the first down spins and loses the ball. fumble.

Early on, Jay Cutler’s trying to throw an INT, but the Packers have to catch ‘em.

Bears have success on two straight plays running to Erik Walden’s side. Interesting that he’s in there over Francois. Thought Francois was solid against the Giants.

Score: Packers 0 Bears 0

2nd Quarter:

Holding call on Bulaga wasn’t even close to being a hold.  Awful call- especially with the ref being right there.

Matt Forte proving to be the most dangerous weapon on the Bears offense.

Walden on a big sack of Cutler. But, when you have an uncontested shot like that on the QB, you have to hit the arm, Walden…

OK. I’m getting really tired of seeing Rodgers have nobody underneath to throw to, and I don’t mean just today.

Hoping maybe a 2 minute drill will find the Packers offense some rhythm.

Packers get very lucky with a roughing the passer call that was not.

Greg Jennings with yet another drop. And then Jones lets one through his hands. So much for the offense getting into a rhythm…

Score: Packers 0 Bears 3

2nd Half:

Packers defense looking very confused on the bears first drive. But they get a big stop as capers starts to dial up the pressure, bringing 6 on 4th down.

OK, so we’ve determined that the Packers offensive players are the worst tacklers on the planet.

AJ Hawk really came to play today.

Another 3rd and two deep throw when you’re desperately trying to find a rhythm as an offense. I think this one was on Rodgers. Seemed to pass up a lot of other options.

Gee, you think when everybody in the building knows kuhn is getting a handoff on a goal line dive that it may not work? As Alex of Packers Lounge mentioned, a bootleg off of that is a sure TD.

Seriously, on the goal line,Rodgers shows again that he throws an awful short pass. Herky jerky. Have said that forever.

You know you’re holding the ball too long as a QB when Howard Green gets to you.

Well, now we know why Erik Walden is playing today – pass rush. great delayed blitz by Walden.

Score: Packers 3 Bears 3

4th Quarter:

Another goal line situation. Please let it be something other than a dive play.

Prayers answered: play action TD to wide open Donald Lee.

Jordy Nelson on a bad read of a block. Doesn’t get the first down on a otherwise nicely executed WR screen.

Tim Mathsay coming up big in a big spot today. Awesome punt puts the ball on the Bears 3 yard line.

It’s a sack party!

The packers offense just cannot seal the deal. It stays a one score game and they give the ball back to the Bears for one final try. Thanks to Ray Guy, Tim Mathsay, the Bears need to go 98 yards.

Fittingly, a Nick Collins interception ends the Bears drive deep in Packers territory.

PLAYOFFS BABY!

Final Score: Packers 10 Bears 3

——————

Follow Jersey Al:


                    Add to Circleson Google+

Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

——————

  • Packer Pilot

    Bush really played well on ST’s.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      This year, he actually has the majority of the season. And he’s stayed away from the bonehead penalties for the most part.

  • Chad Toporski

    What a harrowing game. Have to give mad props to the defense and ST. Except for the one long return, the coverage units did great. Masthay and Crosby both kicked really well and with good accuracy.

    I just continue to be upset with the inconsistencies on offense. I don’t get it.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      I think the wide receivers helped keep the offense disjointed in the first half. Driver fumble, and if Jennings holds onto those two balls, those are huge plays and it’s a different game. I thought Rodgers had one of his games where he he was too often passing up the quick easy completion, then finding himself with nowhere to throw. Hence, he ends up with 7 rushes.

      • Chad Toporski

        Astute points, Al. That first drop by Jennings gave me a nightmare flashback to the Detroit game, as I’m sure it did for most fans.

  • Rob Domaine

    Congrats on getting into the playoffs Al. Best wishes the rest of the way!

    Rob

    nygreporter.com

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Thanks Rob. We’ll try to beat the Eagles for ya’

  • Ron LC

    Thank You Dom! Time for MM to give up the play calling. The offense was not ready to play the game today. There is NO excuse to come out and play like that in a must win situation.

    Masthay was very, very good. Crosby’s kick to the 27 was awful and almost put the Packers in a hole.

    • PackersRS

      100% agreed.

  • PackersRS

    If we play hard on O, we win every game. The D plays great every game.

    There shouldn’t be that big of a dropoff without Grant and Finley. We should be able to put more than 10 points, even against a great bears D.

    I’m a little bit worried. We can win against the Eagles, but it’ll take a complete effort. Can we pull off one of those?

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      yes, RS. it is possible. Rodgers did not play a good game today. I’m always an MM gametime critic, but I think Rodgers was in “holding the ball too long” mode today…

  • ZeroTolerance

    They did not force us, they stopped degrading us, they did not control us, we were victorious.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      It’s an Uprising!

      Your new favorite song?

    • ZeroTolerance

      Have had it on a continual loop since game’s end!

  • Russell

    MM, please give Starks more carries! BJax is a waste of a down.

  • ELong

    Great defensive game. Our ST looked as good as they ever have. All in all – a good win against a division opponent.

    Some thoughts for MM as we go into the playoffs.
    – Agree with Russell – give Starks more carries. (or even Nance)
    – No more 3rd & 1 bombs – let’s get the first down.
    – First and goal from the 1 – come on! Gotta get that done – no more Kuhn carries when the whole stadium knows what’s coming.
    – More screen passes please
    – Call a WR meeting get in their face. Way too many drops.
    – Don’t bother Capers while he is preparing for the Eagles.

  • Ruppert

    Great point about lack of underneath pass routes. I looked up the number of receptions by RBs/FBs the last few years. 67 this year, 65 in ’09 (70 if you count Havner as a back), 65 in ’08, 95 in ’07, 113 in ’06, 115 in ’05, 118 in ’04.

    That’s a huge dropoff when Rodgers takes over, although we lost Ahman and Henderson after ’06 who were both good at catching passes out of the backfield. I wonder if it’s more McCarthy changing the offense when Rodgers came, or Rodgers choosing to throw elsewhere. Either way, I’d like to see the return of RBs catching passes.

    I’m not so concerned about the offense. The Bears are very good on D and it was another very cold and windy day. We’ll do better next week.

  • Russell

    ELong, you’re right, please change it up at the goal line. To MM’s credit, he did go play-action to D.Lee on the TD. Packers need to come away with TDs not FGs against the Beagles.