With less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter of Sunday’s Packer game, down 7-0, Aaron Rodgers saw Bears’ defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. bearing down on him. Rodgers changed direction and threw the ball away just as Edwards Jr. tackled him. Apparently proud of his “quarterback hurry” stat, Edwards Jr. stood over Rodgers, pointed his finger at him and ran his mouth. The referee who was watching immediately threw a flag for taunting. That penalty ignited Rodgers and the Packer offense. The Green and Gold, playing in their home jerseys, drove 80 yards, including the fifteen yard unsportsmanlike penalty, to tie the score and begin a momentum swing they never relinquished. They led 10-7 at halftime, scored a touchdown on their first drive of the third quarter and responded with a Rodgers dash to the goal line and the aforementioned rant towards the stands after Chicago closed to within three points in the fourth quarter.
Lesson one Mr. Edwards Jr.; lighting a fire under Rodgers is not a good idea for any opponent. Lesson two; if you are going to taunt, do it after you pump fake a pass and scramble in for a game clinching touchdown, then aim your taunt to the crowd. No Penalty and no comeback. Rodgers’ crowd taunting seemed to add a bit of spice to this 100 year and 203 game rivalry. To be fair, he can back it up. The Bears fan in the stand who was giving him the double middle finger salute that Rodgers said sparked his taunt must admit, she has reason to despise Rodgers. The QB has an overall record of 22-5 against the Bears. Sunday, Rodgers found seven different receivers, hitting on 17 of 23 pass attempts that included two touchdowns. He shook off three sacks and ran seven times for 19 yards including the late scramble for the games final score. I know Robb Born was smiling watching those runs.
The Packers ended the game with 31 rushing plays and 23 pass plays. That is a ratio from the John Brockington days. If Brockington was watching today’s game, he had to be smiling. A.J. Dillon left the Bears defense and safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. in the proverbial Chicago wind as he busted through a wide hole in the line and faked Gipson Sr. for a 36 yard scamper. Aaron Jones also impressed with 110 yards from scrimmage including a number of screen and flare passes. One went for a touchdown and another set up first and goal when Jones seemed to be hiding behind center Lucas Patrick to avoid Bears end Bilal Nichols. Then he slipped past him for a first down and goal at the seven. The Packers settled for a field goal on that drive when a near perfect throw by Rodgers and spectacular catch by St. Brown was nullified for offensive pass interference. While not the obvious focus like past games, Davante Adams still had four catches for 89 yards. The Packers were only 2-8 on third down but converted their only 4th down attempt on their first touchdown drive.
The Special teams shook off last weeks’ disaster as Mason Crosby was perfect and Bojorquez had an excellent kicking game.
The Packers’ defense went down more players as injuries hit Savage and Preston Smith. The defense still seems unable to make red zone stops but they made some big plays. Dean Lowry made game changing plays, sacking rookie QB Justin Fields near the end of the half to take the Bears out of field goal range. Lowry ended his day with 5 tackles, 4 solo, and was solid with pressure. Fields played well for a rookie. His one interception came when he thought Green Bay’s Kenny Clark had jumped offside. He did take four sacks but his ability to run was impressive when he found a lane. Without their staring corners, the Packers relied on Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes to man the edges. Douglas took over for Isaac Yiadom, who was repeatedly burned by the Bears — including an early pass interference in the end zone. Overall, Douglas looks like an improvement. Jaylon Smith also saw his first action in a Packer uniform. Smith did not impress, nor did he get credit for a tackle, pass defense, or any defensive stat. He did seem to pressure Fields a couple of times. Kenny Clark put on a show with 2 sacks, the last one all but killing the Bears final comeback chance.
The Packer offense had three touchdown drives of 80, 90 and 75 yards, plus a field goal drive of 38 yards. They did not turn the ball over and committed only three penalties. This facing a defense that held the Raiders and QB David Carr to nine points and a 67.1 QBR just last week.
The run focused game plan combined with quick passes that spread the Bears defense wide, then took occasional shots set up by the run, frustrating Chicago. Jones averaged 5.8 a carry. Dillon was just behind him at 5.4. At least two of their three sacks seemed like blown assignments allowing rushers a clean open lane to the quarterback. The biggest offensive question is the status of rookie Josh Meyers who left the game with a knee injury. Lucas Patrick filled in admirably.
The Packers are now 5-1 with four road games under their belt. Next up is The Washington Football Team whose four losses are against the Chargers, Bills, Saints and Chiefs. Let’s hope we can add the Packers to that list next Sunday.