Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears: 2014 Game 4
As always, these are unfiltered initial reactions as the game progresses. Everything is up for discussion.
The Packers are on a three-game winning streak at Soldier Field and pulled out a dramatic win in their last appearance during week 17 of the 2013 season to clinch the NFC North. In his last three games in Chicago, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown 15 touchdowns to four interceptions.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is 1-8 against the Packers since becoming Chicago’s starting quarterback in 2009.
The Bears are 2-1 on the season but have yet to get their first win at home. They lost to the Buffalo Bills in week one and have won their last two games on the road. The Packers are searching for their first road win of the season so something has to give today.
Bears rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller is responsible for five of Chicago’s eight takeaways so far this season. Fuller has three interceptions and two forced fumbles and has assumed the starting role vacated by the injured Charles Tillman.
Over the past three seasons, the Packers have not lost back-to-back games that Rodgers started.
Despite the good start the Packers defense has enjoyed, they are ranked fourth-worst in third down defense, allowing a 50% conversion rate.
Both starting running backs are off to slow starts. Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy has just 113 yards and Chicago’s Matt Forte’s has 136. Neither has a touchdown this season.
The Bears and Lions enter the day 2-1 while the Packers and Vikings are 1-2. The best-case scenario for the Packers would be to win and have the Lions lose to the Jets, which would create a logjam at 2-2 atop the division. The worst-case scenario would be a Packers loss and a Lions win, which would put the Packers two games back of two division rivals just one month into the season.
Today’s Packers’ captains will be WR Jordy Nelson (offense), CB Tramon Williams (defense) and P Tim Masthay (special teams).
Inactives for today’s game:
Green Bay Packers
11 WR Jarrett Boykin
16 QB Scott Tolzien
39 CB Demetri Goodson
54 LB Carl Bradford
59 LB Brad Jones
72 C Garth Gerhart
WR Jeff Janis is active for the first time this season. Davante Adams will
27 CB Sherrick McManis
50 LB Shea McClellin
63 C/G Roberto Garza
68 G Matt Slauson
69 DE Jared Allen
72 T Charles Leno, Jr.
90 DT Jeremiah Ratliff
On defense, 93 DT Will Sutton starts for Ratliff, 97 DE Willie Young starts for Allen and 57 LB Jonathan Bostic starts for McClellin. On offense, 70 G Michael Ola starts for Slauson and 64 C Brian de la Puente starts for Garza.
Also, FB 43 Tony Fiammetta was cut by the Bears this week. His roster spot was taken by LB Darryl Sharpton, who is active for today’s game
On playing at Soldier Field: “Great place to play. Longest rivalry in the history of the NFL…two very good football teams.“
Turnover Ratio: “Turnover ratio is critical. Big play production is critical. To come out and win both categories is vital”
WR Boykin inactive today: “Jeff Janis will be active today and is ready to go”
On the Packers’ defense and third down: “Have to give up less yards after contact. I like our third down defense and the way they’re trending”
Bears QB Jay Cutler: “Biggest change in footwork and timing. Comparing this offense vs. past systems, he looks more in command.
Bears WR Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and TE Martellus Bennett: “Talented. Can get vertical and stretch the field. Bennett is a big target and they do a good job getting him the ball”
Bears struggles getting RB Matt Forte going: “Anticipate they’ll try to run the ball. It’s a focus for our defense. Forte is a dynamic player, very smart.
Bears effective screen game: “They have an excellent screen package”
Ingredients to get a win: “Need a fast start. Solid preparation and execute well.”
Packers vs.Bears – First Impressions – First Half:
Let’s hope this Soldier Field turf doesn’t get any of the good guys killed today. . .
Forte, Forte, Forte. Gets a first down on his second-straight run. He will be a big factor today.
Sam Shields goes for the pass break up instead of the sure tackle and Bennett picks up a first down with the YAC
Peppers misses the third-down sack on Cutler and he scrambles for a first down. Packers penalized to boot. Penalties will kill the Packers today.
Cutler looks more in control than I’ve seen him against the Packers. 70+ yard opening drive and a touchdown with some help by Davon House and an apparent case of vertigo. Marc Trestman has been a good thing for Jay.
And the Packers answer with a quick touchdown drive of their own. Six plays and Eddie Lacy gets his first rushing touchdown of the season. Aaron Rodgers looked sharp and found tight end Richard Rodgers twice to get down field.
Matt Forte is just embarrassing the Packers defense and the Packers defense seems happy to oblige. Forte is on pace for just over 600 yards today at present clip.
Score at end of 1st quarter: GB 7 CHI 7
And the universe has corrected itself. Packers defense sucks and penalties (questionable) adding to the carnage, offense playing well. Bears bailed Packers out with a few off-target Cutler throws on that second drive.
Packers still trying to run wide right and having zero success. Don’t ask me why they do it but I do know the definition of insanity. Still, that run right has netted negative yards for the Packers all season.
That “Cutler drops the snap” play is working well for the Bears. Cue up the circus music for the Packers defense.
Bears offense making the Packers defense look amateur. Nicely-designed play leaves Alshon Jeffery wide open for a walk-in score on a fake reverse.
Bears take a page out of Packers’ play book and try the surprise on-side kick. Packers recover. I don’t blame the play call. Packers have been stiff and slow to react today.
After a terrible incompletion on a check down, Rodgers throws a perfect bullet TD pass to Cobb to give Packers the lead back. But did they leave too much time for Cutler and the Bears with a minute on the clock?
The answer is YES. Bears drive down inside the red zone and may have scored a touchdown on a catch and reach by Bennett. But not enough evidence to overturn and the ruling on the field stands. Bears are denied the score. Still, that Chicago drove down field so easily means another tough second half for the Packers.
Score at end of 1st half: GB 21 CHI 17
Packers vs. Bears – First Impressions – Second Half:
The one adjustment Mike McCarthy needed to make at the half is on the side of the ball that’s not his “Forte”. Needs to find an answer to the Bears’ running back and fast.
After a nice start to the opening drive, two Corey Linsley holding penalties not only kill the drive but nullify a touchdown. Crosby with an incredible 53-yard field goal to get something out of it.
Packers defense finally makes a play. Tramon tips a Cutler pass into the hands of Clay Matthews. First turnover of the day and the Packers needed it. Packers turn it into seven points. Incredible throw and catch by Nelson to add to the Packers lead. You just can’t stop Rodgers to Nelson all day. Just can’t.
Packers’ defense finally showing some signs of life with another interception of Cutler after a miscommunication with Marshall. Packers drive down and stall. Mason Crosby FG try coming up.
Score at end of 3rd quarter: GB 31 CHI 17
After holding the Packers to a field goal try, the Bears are called for defensive holding on the try, giving Green Bay a first and goal at the three. Next play, Rodgers finds Cobb for a TD.
Tramon nearly gets a third interception of Cutler. Play is overturned as Williams didn’t maintain possession. Packers step up and get a sack, hold Bears and get the ball back. Second half a complete heel turn for this defense.
Cobb quickly makes everyone forget about the drop in the end zone with a nice catch-and-juke. Takes it down to the 3-yard line. This is why the Packers need to get more creative in getting the ball in Cobb’s hands.
Packers always seem to have issues with penalties in Chicago. Had a first and goal at the three-yard line and were called for holding twice. Crosby’s FG attempt is tipped. No good. Still, that should do it whether Bears score or not.
Final Score: GB 38 CHI 17
After a rough start by the defense, they forced some turnovers and finally showed up and joined the offense at the party. These are the results when the Packers play a more complete game on both sides of the ball. Still gave up too many rushing yards and have to improve there if they want to win close games.
Tackling is still an issue. Had this game not gotten out of hand and the Bears continued to feed Forte, it may have ended much differently.
Third-down defense is still not good enough. They just can’t get off the field and are constantly out-schemed and out-played series after series. They have to find a way to make it tougher for good offenses to gain more than five yards and get the ball back to the offense.
A.J. Hawk wasn’t terrible so let’s stop maligning the guy, OK?
Aaron Rodgers is good after all. He’s not “over the hill” and “on the wrong side of 30” just yet. Four touchdowns, no interceptions and a smiling high-five to McCarthy. Got the ball out faster and his only sack taken was on a scramble for no yards.
The Bears were without several key guys today but the Packers have been on that side of the equation many times. Still doesn’t diminish that this was a huge road divisional win. Packers have now won four straight at Soldier Field. More importantly, they improve to 2-2 and return home on a short week. They’ll face the Minnesota Vikings next.——————
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: