The Packers and the Bears met today in what was expected to be a classic game – it wasn’t. The first half was total domination by the Packers’ defense, knocking Jay Cutler out of the game in the process. They really only had one thing to worry about – Matt Forte
The Packers’ offense had little trouble moving the ball against the Bears, but their age-old problem of leaving points on the table reared it’s ugly head once again. This, of course, kept the Bears within striking distance the whole game.
Had Aaron Rodgers not tackled Brian Urlacher after throwing the ball right to him, this would have been a one score game and just a Devin Hester return away from being tied.
But the Packers special teams were also at the top of their game. Tim Mathsay had another fantastic day against the Bears. Using an assortment of different types of kicks and various placements, the Packers kept the Bears off-balance and were able to pin them deep on many occasions.
In the second half, however, the Packers seemingly forgot everything they did right in the first half. Either that, or the Bears just finally showed up for this game.
The play calling got conservative and the defense lost it’s swagger, allowing Caleb Hanie, a 3rd string QB to lead the Bears on two touchdown drives.
Only two huge interceptions by the Packers saved the day, a pick-six by BJ Raji and the now-traditional game ending INT, this time by Sam Shields.
My game day impressions:
I’ve tried very hard to avoid a “polluted mindset” this week, not reading any outside articles about the Packers Bears matchup. While normally I devour that stuff, this week seemed different. After all, it’s the third time the Packers are playing the Bears. I already know how I feel about both teams and this game.
My simple feeling is that the Packers are the better team and will win the game. Unless they kill themselves with mistakes, as they did in the first meeting this season.
MY KEY TO THE GAME: If I had to pick JUST ONE thing, it would be this: Stop Matt Forte. And that doesn’t just mean on the ground. He is arguably more dangerous to the Packers catching passes than running. Force Cutler and the Bears into third and longs and the INTs will follow.
My 1A key to the game: Keep the offense balanced. Mike McCarthy needs to not fall back into bad habits. Run the ball, use the running backs in the passing game, use the tight ends and when it’s third and a few yards, just focus on getting the first down and sustaining drives. Take your deep shots on other downs and distance.
Inactive for Green Bay on Sunday:
Green Bay inactives: Harrell (3rd QB), P. Lee, Nance, Gordy, Zombo, Dietrich-Smith, McDonald and Wynn.
Not surprised by Zombo being kept out. Couldn’t see bringing him back rusty for such a big game. It’s not like he will be a huge loss. Walden starts for Zombo – I have no problem with that.
Korey Hall returns to the active list today at the expense of Jarius Wynn. Certainly has to be a special teams move. All hands on deck for Devin Hester & friends.
Howard Green stays on the active list, also at the expense of Jarius Wynn. Packers opt for additional beef over pass rush (Wynn).
And finally, Atari Bigby makes the active list for the first time in quite a while. Expect to see him only on special teams.
MM Comments on WTMJ Pregame show:
Difference from 3 years ago: We’re a lot more experienced going into this game. We’re on the road, playing a common opponent. Feel we’ve peaked at the right time.
Hall & Bigby: Primary roles will be on special teams. Peprah is still the starting safety.
Important to keep preparation the same as any other week.
Our confidence has been building. Today is here. Time to play for the NFC trophy today.
Most important part will be the breaks that go either way. We’ve been sound, disciplined. Need to stick to our formula of success since the Giants game.
Peppers: Excellent addition to their defense. Important for Chad Clifton to outwork him today.
We expect them to come in and run the football. We will see a heavy doise of the running game.
Cutler: Played one of his best games as far as QB movement last week.
Special teams: Bears have Hester, Knox & Manning – 3 dangerous returners. Ball placement and coverage have to be at a premium in this game.
You have to expect the unexpected this game. You can’t think that anyone is going to line up and just run the same plays.
Historic significance: It’s a privilege to be part of the history of all the great players and coaches that have been part of this rivalry.
Lots of debate over the National Anthem. I loved it. really built excitement. Only problem I have is Bears fans cheering during the entire anthem. At least wait until “O say does that…”
Starks slips on the kickoff return. Yes NFL officials, the field is in “fine” shape.
Raji in at FB. Feeling a fake…
Hahahaha. Been calling for a bootleg on the goal line all year. Rodgers took his time a bit too much at the start of his run. He had to take a hit as a result.
Kuhn knees Clifton in the head? A stinger? This could be bad. Warm up TJ…
Forte with a big gain on a short pass. That was one of my two keys to the game. Stopping THAT play…
Lang in for Clifton. Thought it was great the way they put Crabtree behind Lang, like they’re going to give Lang help on a pass, and then handoff inside Peppers. Awesome
Packers get impatient – take two deep tries in a row. Not necessary…
Peppers mauling Lang. Rodgers takes a hit. Pressured on every play. Need Clifton back.
Packers get a sack off a disguised 3-man rush. Beautiful.
Rodgers walks back on the field after the Packers get the ball back. Looks like he’s limping a bit to me.
Packers are not capitalizing on the excellent field position wins with points. That always comes back to bite you.
Score: Packers 7 Bears 0
I have a feeling if Clifton hasn’t come back by this time, he’s not going to.
Quinn ALMOST hooked and held on the Starks TD. Pulled his hand away when he realized it wasn’t necessary.
And Clifton returns from the locker room, warms up on the sideline and is back in!
Clay Matthews reads a screen perfectly, holding up his rush, dropping back and blowing up the play.
Speaking of Matthews, so proud of him becoming the spokesperson for Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy.
And there’s Dom’s secret weapon for today: Sam Shields on the blitz. Fumble created.
And soon after, Shields with the Intertception. Shields WANTED that ball. Knox did NOT.
Score: Packers 14 Bears 0
Todd Collins warming up. Some people are happy. I say, do we really want Todd Collins when we’re doing so well with Cutler?
Never mind, Cutler comes out for the Bears’ first offensive series.
James Starks has an awesome stutter-step move.
Cutler now sitting dejectedly on the bench – looks like he’s given up…
Awful decision by Rodgers on the Urlacher TD, but a great recovery to make the tackle on Urlacher. Saved 7 points.
Todd Collins takes the field for the Bears and looks absolutely awful. Bears punt, having gotten no points out of the Urlacher INT. Again, huge tackle by Rodgers…
Cutler has the same look on his face as he had during the Giants game. Says, “I want no part of this”
The Bears’ Johnny Knox might make a better defensive back than wide receiver, ala Packers’ Sam Shields. Seems like he’s always breaking up INTs.
Score: packers 14 Bears 0
Caleb Hanie now at QB for the Bears. Touchdown. What?
And now we have the dreaded one score game. Beautiful
Nothing bothers me more than players having a hissy-fit over being calkled for obvious penalties. Yes Peppers, that means you. You will be fined for that helmet-to-helmet.
Awesome play by Jarret Bush to try to down a punt on the 1 yard line, but after stepping in the endzone, did not get his feet back down on the field to re-establish. bears awarded a touchback. Don’t like it, but it was the right call.
Is Greg Olsen even in this game?
Damn. Rodgers can not throw a super-short pass to save his life. Always at the feet. Packers punt again with 7 minutes left. Let’s give the Bears more chances.
B… J… Raji…! The Freezer ices the Bears…
Or does he? Caleb Hanie with 4 straight completions and a TD. Took 81 seconds. What?
Then a three and out. The old Packers are back.
Caleb Hanie: Better than Collins, showed tons more guts than Jay Cutler.
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.