Fourth and one. The Packer defense forced fourth downs over and over on Sunday at Soldier Field but the Bears took risks and for three and a half quarters, they were rewarded. But on their fifth 4th and 1, with time ticking in the eleventh minute of the 4th quarter, the Bears gambled that Mitchell Trubisky could convert again by completing a two yard pass. Trubisky’s history would tell the educated bettor not to double down on that bet. The Bears did. They now have to hope they can meet the Packers at Lambeau in late January as they back into the playoffs thanks to a loss by the Arizona Cardinals.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers showed how a playoff team should finish an important late season away game with playoff implications. The Packers finished the last half of the fourth quarter with two touchdowns and a defensive takeaway. All triggered by a pass defensed on fourth down by Chandon Sullivan for the key stop of the game.
A game ball has to be given to the two offensive tackles for the Packers. Billy Turner battled his tail off and kept Aaron Rodgers clean enough to have a perfect first half. Rodgers has more pressure to avoid in the second half but made clutch throws, adding four more TD throws to his MVP application. Turner learned he was starting at left tackle three days before the game. He has played the position only sparingly over his career. His assignment; Khalil Mack. Rick Wagner played on an ailing knee he injured last week and yet these backup tackles held one of the best defenses in the league to one sack and six QB hits. The running backs ran for a 4.2 yard average and Rodgers threw for 240 yards with a QB rating of 147.9. If not for MVS’ TD drop Rodgers may have reached a 150 rating. The defense refused to let another special team turnover slow them down. When Tavon Austin coughed up the 7th fumble of his 8 year career, the defense forced a field goal and the offense quickly scored to extinguish the Bears early lead.
Davante Adams broke another Packer passing record and made clutch catches on the key 4th down drive. Adams, Aaron Jones, and Rodgers really shined in the 4th quarter. Tough catches, runs and throws combined to break the game open.
While the Bears were able to move the ball for four quarters, the defense made big plays forcing field goals and turnovers that were the difference in the final score. Former Bear Adrian Amos’ interception sealed the game in the fourth quarter, a déjà vu feeling for Bears fans.
The best déjà vu feeling for Packer fans was watching former Packer TE Jimmy Graham get stoned on the last play of the game just in front of the goal line by Jaire Alexander who was giving up 8 inches and 65 pounds to the aging veteran.
At 13-3 the Packers are on top of the National Football Conference. They have earned a first round playoff bye and home playoff games. They have overcome injuries, Covid, and pundits like ESPN’s Bill Barnwell who on August 11th published an ESPN article naming the Packers as the team most likely to regress in 2020. He predicted 9.7 wins. He did not foresee rookies like Krys Barnes making impact plays or players like Alexander, Jenkins, Tonyan and Darnell Savage making big improvements. Barnwell failed to foresee one of the best quarterbacks to play the game fully grasping last years new offense and that they would lead the league in points scored. Let’s just say it, Bill Barnwell failed. Like Mitch Trubisky on 4th and 1. That fifth 4th and 1 on Sunday. When it counted. Next up, The Playoffs!