Everything lined up perfectly for the Green Bay Packers. Both the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings lost. All the Packers had to do was dispose of the three-win Chicago Bears.
The Bears weren’t ready to be disposed of so easily, unfortunately.
In the third quarter, it looked like it would turn into a rout. The Packers put up 17 to build a 27-10 lead. Then the Packers went soft, going away from what got them the lead — aggressive defense and the running of Ty Montgomery, who had 162 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns.
That impotent offense and lackluster defense in the second half allowed the Bears to tie the game at 27. Then, a somewhat-desperation heave by Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson that covered 60 yards on the final drive allowed the Packers to kick a field goal for a 30-27 win.
The dream is alive!
The Packers were largely buoyed by Montgomery, who ran wild when given the chance. Then, in the second half, Mike McCarthy apparently forgot he existed. Relying on Rodgers, who was less than sharp and had a band of receivers who dropped a number of would-be big plays, the Packers couldn’t close it out.
The defense, meanwhile, couldn’t get home on Bears quarterback Matt Barkley, who carved up the Packers’ secondary for 362 yards. The Packers’ lone sack on the day was Julius Peppers’ strip sack to open the second half.
Clay Matthews played, but was completely ineffective, putting up a donut in the box score. That’s something that has become the norm lately.
The back end of the defense did their best bend-but-don’t-break job, except they broke too often, while playing a soft zone for much of the second half.
In the end, it all worked out though, didn’t it?
If you’re a Bears’ fan, you’re probably wondering why your coach didn’t go for the win with the ball inside the Packers’ five on their final drive. Really, the Packers weren’t stopping them and what do you have to lose?
Fortunately for the Packers, John Fox played for the draft pick and went for the tie.
The 1:19 left was time enough for Rodgers and Nelson to pull out the one big play the Packers needed. If you’re Chicago’s defense, you had one job on that second-to-last play — don’t let anyone get behind you.
And that’s why you’re a three-win team.
The Packers got lucky on this day and we’ll all breathe a huge sigh of relief.