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Packers Overcome Special Teams to Beat Bears 45-30

Every excuse was there to lose this game for the Packers. Aaron’s toe. Davante’s hamstring. LaFleur’s record coming out of a bye week. Cobb on injured reserve. The karma of Rodgers’, “I own you” comment. There were many moments during Sunday night’s reasonably balmy December game that would make an honest fan of the Green and Gold wonder if the Packers could pull this victory out of their “G” emblemed helmets.

An ominous start looked like past bye week failures when the Packers came out flat. They began with two straight pass plays that ended with the Bear’s first sack and a Packer punt. The Chicago offense seemed to have an opening game plan that the Packers could not stop. The Packer’s two opening drives resulted in the Pack punting twice. Before Green Bay’s offense even seemed to be warmed up the Packers were down 10-0.

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) dives for a touchdown against Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson (33) in the third quarter during their football game Sunday, December 12, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
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This was a good time for the Packers offense to come to life. An 11 play-75 yard drive required a conversion on 4th down at the two yard line for the Packers to get back into the game. Rasul Douglass then seemed to turn the momentum with his pick six of Justin Fields. Fields shrugged it off and after getting good field position thanks to an out of bounds kick off by Mason Crosby, found Byrd for a 46 yard simple pitch, catch and run up the middle for a touchdown. The big play seemed to catch the Packers in a poor defensive man to man scheme.

Green Bay Packers tight end Marcedes Lewis (89) celebrates a first down reception against the Chicago Bears during their football game on Sunday December 12, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
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The Special Teams unit really seemed motivated to lose this game. The punt and kickoff coverage units gave up over 200 yards in the first half, including a 97 yard punt return touchdown that is now the longest in Bear football history. The Packers allowed the only punt return touchdown in the entire NFL this season. Not special. That score gave the Bears a 24-14 lead. Rodgers and company just refused to allow this special team meltdown to take away their victory. At times in the second quarter it seemed like the offense was battling their own special teams more than the Bears. After going down by ten Rodgers reeled off a four play 75 yard touchdown drive in 48 seconds. The touchdown pass, a 38 yarder to Davante Adams was a thing of beauty. Rodgers placed it just over the coverage corner and Adams sidestepped the inrushing safety to shuffle in for the score.

The Special Teams were not finished, giving up a 42 yard kickoff return that allowed the Bears to ultimately get a field goal as time expired. The Bears led by ten at half time.

The Packers seemed to take control of the game in the third, coming out moving the ball on the ground to set up the pass. A.J. Dillon took control during the 9 play drive but the Packers allowed Aaron Jones to come in for the 3 yard touchdown scamper. The Packers defense came up big again, stripping Fields of the ball setting up the Packers at the 23 yard line. It only took one play, a beautiful misdirection pass to Aaron Jones. The Pack defense then forced a punt after a holding penalty on rookie left tackle Teven Jenkins. Jenkins substitution into the game for an injured Jason Peters could have been a turning point. He made critical errors and allowed multiple sacks of Fields.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Preston Smith (91) forces a fumble by Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) during the third quarter of their game Sunday, December 12, 2021 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
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The Packers had their own offensive line injury that could have led to disaster. Losing Billy Turner to a knee injury quieted the Lambeau crowd. Dennis Kelly came in and played a steady game. He was called for one penalty but did not make critical pass protection errors. Gutekunst and company deserve more props for coming up with another depth chart acquisition that can play. A seven play drive that ended at the Bears two netted three points when Mason Crosby put it through from the twenty. The Packers, now up by 11 late in the third seemed to have taken control, then early celebrations broke out in the stands after another 13 play- 75 yard drive made the score 45-27 with 4:33 left in the game. All that stood between the Packers and victory were a couple of Special Team plays. This same special teams had dodged another major bullet when Amari Rodgers muff of a Bears punt was wiped away by a gift penalty call against the Bears gunner for running out of bounds. But this Special Team group, on this night, would not be denied. Marquez Valdez Scantling bumbled the Bears onside kick allowing the Bears to recover and run it to the end zone. Thank the NFL football gods for coming up with the rule that onside kick recoveries cannot be advanced. That wiped out score by NFL rule makers sealed the home team victory. Packers fans have to be happy with any win against the Bears. But, this Special Teams play has to improve. You cannot give up touchdowns, 260 yards in return yardage, fumble two returns and expect to win in the playoffs. Next week the team faces the Ravens in Baltimore. We will learn this week if Lamar Jackson has recovered from today’s injury. Apparently, Mr. Rodgers does own a certain Wind City team, and has fun while he does it.

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Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards is a lawyer, victim advocate, writer, and long term Packer fan and Packer history enthusiast.

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21 Comments

  1. Ferris December 13, 2021

    Special Teams….We all choked on vomit. That onside kick took a wicked hop but the rest of the errors were Keystone Cops-ish. Amari Rodgers can’t catch. Taylor tried to catch a ball already almost out of bounds WTF? Do they not know the rules? Kickoff team can’t tackle. Punt team can’t tackle. Other than that though good night. Crosby made XPs and a 20 yard FG. Woooooo.

  2. NobodysBurfect December 13, 2021

    I think Collinsworth is a Packers operative – not just because of the constant Rodgers love, but he kept praising Nagy. Good show, give the man a four year extension.

  3. PF4L December 13, 2021

    I suppose we can proclaim Dennis Kelly a good player at this point……
    .
    But umm, he did have a holding penalty and received help.
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    Maybe. ..we let Kelly get some more play snaps under his belt before we crown him and Gute.
    .
    Sorry for not drinking the kool aid after a half game, but sometimes V O R gets in the way.

    1. Tom M December 14, 2021

      Dennis Kelly, now the 3rd tackle off the bench behind Jenkins and Nijman actually played well. Most teams don’t have a decent second string tackle. He came in and did his job. Holding penalty? No one gives a shit. He helped keep Rodgers upright so he could “own” the Bears. Rodgers will play in Baltimore next week. While Lamar Jackson may not because his OL got him hurt. So yes, what Kelly was able to do is a big deal. That OL was right out of a preseason game. Not supposed to be starters in week 14. They got it done this week and they deserve credit.

      1. PF4L December 14, 2021

        Go grab a cookie, go sit in your corner and try to be happy for once in your miserable life.
        .
        Last I checked critiquing and stating reality peppered with common sense and critical thinking was allowed in here Barney.
        .
        Now go wash that cookie down with some purple kool aid and STFU so the Packer fans can discuss.
        .
        But first remind us again how good of a season Kevin King is having you D. F.
        .
        SKOL

  4. Mitch Anthony December 13, 2021

    Amari Rodgers needs to be suited up in the practice barn and then have his hands tied behind his back. Then, every single player and coach gets to walk by and throw a football at his face mask and say, “You don’t catch with your face mask.” After a session of that, he might just get it to sink in. When he then clears concussion protocol he’ll be a better man for it.

    I seen an article title with something to the effect that firing Drayton won’t solve the ST problems. Well, Green Bay has always been a team that shows a lot of forgiveness.

    To be objective I guess they are at the bottom of the barrel on the ST unit because as injuries happen in the offense and defense, you move players into roles which takes them away from their normal ST play. Case in point, Lazard and EStB would normally be in ST coverage (where they both do well) but they were needed for offense. But that excuse works for yesterday.

    When I see an NFL player (college degree and all) not knowing or understanding some basic rules like a kick off heading out of bounds I really question the overall discipline and preparedness of that unit. Had Burks not been juked out of his jock on that punt coverage that ball would have been on the 3 and it would have looked like a marvelous tackle, but why was the sideline so wide open for a 97 yard return? Discipline, assignment break down?

    Where’s Jeff Janis when we need him? Yeah I know, winter tread and snow tires.

    1. PF4L December 14, 2021

      The problem imo…
      .
      S T’s has been an issue for years
      Those players are usually players on the fence or players that have a job (made a roster) based on their skill as a S T’s player.
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      At the end of the day it’s Gutes job to provide skill players for that unit.
      But I’m also holding the S T’s coach accountable also.
      Both.

    2. PF4L December 14, 2021

      “Bakhtiari and Alexander are coming back specifically to play the Bucs in the post season. That’s what LeFluer told me on the phone. I have 1st hand knowledge. That’s why I’m all-knowing and I know what’s going to happen in the future” – Barney

  5. Mick December 13, 2021

    I mentioned last week before the Bears game, that I was concerned about the team coming out flat after the buy week. And, they did look flat. What I didn’t expect was the total ineptness that the STs’ displayed. Missed tackles, mishandling of punts and KO returns, a shanked punt and a kickoff out of bounds. Add to that, a 97 yard KO return for a TD! I mean, it can’t get much worse than that. That isn’t going to cut it when playoff time comes. Against playoff caliber teams, #12 and the offense, and the defense might not be able to overcome the disaster that is the STs. Come on Drayton, you have little time left to right this sinking unit.

  6. Howard December 13, 2021

    The simple short pass to Byrd (WR) out of the backfield for a 46 yard touchdown against Black was a play the Bears saw in film study. Remember when the Vikings lined up Jefferson in the backfield for a short TD? When the Vikings lined up Jefferson in the backfield the Packers put Black in man coverage against the back who happened to be Jefferson. A TD resulted. Black against a WR coming out of the backfield is a bad matchup on a quick slant and no inside help if Black is going to give the back (wr) the inside release. The Packers will need to correct because they will see more of this play if they don’t. The Bears ran the play to get a first down, but just like the Vikings the play resulted in a TD.

    1. Dean December 14, 2021

      Where do they play Alexander when he comes back? With 3 good CBs, maybe the 3rd safety does not need to cover a RB out of the back field on obvious passing downs.

      1. Howard December 14, 2021

        Hard question to answer. I think you want to put your best three corners on the field in nickel. That would be Alexander, Douglas, and Stokes. The problem is I’m fairly certain Stokes at this time is not an ideal slot corner. Only the coaching staff knows if Douglas can play the slot. As we have all seen Douglas has very good instincts and drives on the ball very well. I’m positive Alexander, for many reasons would be a great slot corner. Alexander is also the best left corner on the team (top 2 or 3 NFL) and that is a very important position on defense.
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        I think the Packers start out Alexander on a snap count till he gets back in football shape. It would be easier to reduce Alexander’s snap count if he came in as the nickel back. I’m positive the Packers will not put Alexander on the field unless his shoulder is fully healed. However, the trainers may make Alexander wear a shoulder harness to start. If Alexander wears a shoulder harness I think the slot position would be best to start as the harness can restrict reach, and even a slight restricted reach can be more troublesome as a boundary corner.
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        If the Packers start out Alexander as the slot corner and it works out well do they in later games shift Alexander to slot when the Packers are in nickel? Things can obviously change based on the opponent’s personnel, D&D, zone or man, Etc. One of many things that has impressed me about Alexander is when he plays the slot receiver how fast he can diagnose and fire on those WR bubble/quick screens. In addition Alexander can blitz from the slot position and get to the QB quick. We have seen him do it. I think it would be a mistake to keep Sullivan on the field over either Douglas or Stokes. So who can play the slot position the best of the top three?
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        With Alexander back and no other DB injuries that should mean Sullivan is the dime back covering TEs or RBs, Black may see low single digit defensive snaps, and no defensive snaps for King.

  7. Tom M December 13, 2021

    Another game. Another significant injury. Who will it be next week? These wins won’t mean much if we can’t field a team come January. That OL looked like it was right out of a preseason game. With the Randall Cobb injury the week before, this is either a team of destiny. Or we’re set to crash and burn. Let’s hope it’s the former.

  8. Deepsky December 13, 2021

    I was hoping that Bakhtiari would come back and the Packers might have an offensive line to face the Bucs, but with Turner out, Rodgers last year with the Packer will look like every other year with a loss to a defense that over powers the Packers key offensive players.

  9. Tom M December 14, 2021

    Bakhtiari and Alexander are coming back specifically to play the Bucs in the post season. If we can’t beat the Bucs then it won’t matter if we’ve got home field or not. With Bakhtiari at LT, you move Nijman to RT where he’ll probably start next season. The OL will be fine. Especially if we can get Myers back at center. Alexander, Stokes, Douglas, would make us light years better in the secondary than last year in the NFCC game. While Gary and Preston would make things uncomfortable for Brady. Rodgers would have to show up in the 4th quarter but it’s absolutely a game we can win. Rodgers may “own” the 4-9 Bears but until he can beat Brady, he’ll always be Brady’s bitch. The most important thing we can do is avoid significant injury to anymore of our remaining players over the next 4 games. I still like our chances. But until Rodgers shows he can beat Brady, Tampa still has to be the favorite to repeat.

    1. Dean December 14, 2021

      At least this year, there will be full stadiums so there will be more crowd noise. I think GB would like to play at home with the younger OL and key starters out.

  10. PF4L December 14, 2021

    “While Gary and Preston would make things uncomfortable for Brady” – Barney
    .
    And you base that on…a hunch?…a hope?….a guess?….You got a psychic reading?
    .
    Or were you basing it on last years NFCCG where Preston had 1 QB hit ( as did Darnell Savage).
    Or on the fact Gary had 1 solo tackle and zero’s across the stat line?
    .
    Since you know everything including the future….
    What did your psychic say about how many years until Covid will finally be under control?
    .
    Stop talking so fucking stupid.
    You don’t have a fucking clue how Smith and Gary would do against Brady in the future.
    Other than….your word?
    We all know how good your ‘word’ is….first hand.

  11. JustNorthOfTheWall December 15, 2021

    If the cap is going up by just over $25m, what does that likely mean for the packers to be able to keep the better parts of this squad together? – or is there a forthcoming article on this ? ;)

    1. PF4L December 15, 2021

      @JustNorth…..the simple version…..without trade scenarios of taking on salaries of high picks and/or blue chip players in a potential Rodgers trade. It’s way too early for that.
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      The Packers are 38 million over the cap with 42 players signed for 2022.
      .
      If they cut the Smith brothers that saves them 28 million and they are out from under their combined 100 million plus contracts as far as i know. We got 3 good (above average) years out of them combined. Two from Z, one from Preston
      Pretty G damned expensive investment against production if you ask me.
      .
      Not sure of the drama being played out with the Z Man, and the Packers…we may never know.
      Also, not sure what they will end up doing with Tonyan.
      .
      King will be long gone, even though some bat shit crazy viking fan says he’s having a good season.
      .
      If they got rid of Rodgers and the Smith Brothers they eliminate 48 million and in essence, are sitting in the black. But at what price? Meaning…what kind of team do we have at that point?
      ,500?
      .
      There will be a plethora of articles on this subject matter…maybe even a couple from here.

      1. Mick December 15, 2021

        Ya, the offseason will be interesting—- to say the least. If they keep Rodgers, I think Adams will be gone; it will be hard to afford both. If Adams leaves, will Rodgers pout? If Rodgers leaves, will Adams follow suit? I think King and the Smiths’, and possibly Turner will be gone. Also, if Adams leaves, will the brass target an early round pick at WR? Knowing that only a couple of WRs’ are signed beyond 2021! On the surface, all is kosher with the brass and Rodgers for now but; what is happening behind the scenes? Another question is…..does Rodgers even want to stay? A lot of concerns to think about for the off-season. For now , at least; let’s enjoy 2021.

      2. JustNorthOfTheWall December 16, 2021

        Thanks