The Packers took advantage of an evening with near perfect weather and a predominantly happy home crowd to beat the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field Sunday night. The crowd’s anticipation in the pregame festivities got a boost when Royce Newman was announced as the starting right guard. That left Elgton Jenkins as the final starting lineman to be announced and the crowd roared both their pleasure and relief to have the All-Pro return from his 2021 season-ending knee injury.
Whether engaged in a game of Cornhole at “The Bar” or mingling among the partiers at Johnsonville’s Tailgate Village, the pregame tailgating seemed different from years past. While fans could point to the construction in the lot surrounding Lambeau or chalk it up to a bad Covid memory, the real difference was in the smattering of Bear fans. They came to Lambeau with true hopes of victory. Chicago had battled a tough San Francisco team in harsh elements and ended up victorious in week one. Green Bay was still stinging from their problems on both sides of the football last week. Those two results in week one, combined with offensive line injuries, made Sunday night’s game a tough one to predict.
The end result was a game that had a number of momentum swings, key plays, and calls by the referees that allowed the Packers a 17 point victory. A good sign for the Packers was that the Bears defense struggled to stop the Packers offense all game. When the Packers did fail to score, it was often due to their own miscues. A particular bright spot was the offense overcoming some of their meltdowns to convert critical first downs leading to points. A good NFL team has to be able to convert the occasional long down and distance. In their second of three second quarter touchdown drives the Packers overcame a second and twenty-eight. Rookie Romeo Doubs made some nice cuts behind solid blocking on a hitch pattern to gain twenty and Randall Cobb finished the conversion with an inside slant for 9 yards. The Packer offense took that drive and the following possession to the house for 14 points in a 21 point second quarter. In those drives there were key catches by Cobb (3-3:38 yards) Sammy Watkins (3-4:98 yards) and Allen Lazard (2-3:13 yards). Lazard had one contested catch go off his hands in the end zone that would have given the Packers a field goal on their first drive. The Green and Gold settled for a field goal and a 3-0 lead. The Packer defense looked as porous as they did on the opening Viking drive, surrendering a touchdown and the lead in the first quarter, but came alive after that first drive. The Bears punted on their next three possessions and ended the first half with a submissive kneel down facing a 17 point deficit.
In the second half, the Packer offense continued to shoot themselves in the foot. A dazzling run by Aaron Jones was wasted after a fumble during an exchange between Rodgers and A.J. Dillon ended one promising drive and a bizarre errant snap by Josh Meyers ended another. These unforced errors allowed the Bears fans in the stands a glimmer of hope as Chicago repeatedly gashed the Packer run defense. Bears running back David Montgomery broke tackles repeatedly. The Bears ran off tackle at the Packer outside linebackers and defensive ends again and again. When Kingsley Enagbare subbed in for starters Rashan Gary or Preston Smith, the Packers gave up yardage. Jarran Reed struggled to tackle Montgomery along with the inside linebackers, but just like the forecast rain, the Bears would fail to deliver. Rashan Gary had a particularly strong all around game, stopping a number of runs near the line of scrimmage and sacking Fields. Smith added a sack and had a couple of critical tackles in the Bears final real chance to turn the game.
But the best play of that drive may have been up to the men in stripes. On fourth and goal the refs determined Fields to be down inches from the goal line and the video, which looked ripe for an overturned call, was upheld giving the Packers the ball. The Packer offense impressively drove the ball for a field goal scoring drive, giving them a three score lead. Rodgers had the throw of the night in that late drive, nailing a forty yard pass into the hands of Sammy Watkins to set up a field goal which put a big fat coffin nail in Chicago, leading to a crowd chant of, “The Bears still suck” to end the game. Jaire Alexander had a rough start to the game, giving up a big pass completion on the opening drive and missing a tackle on a run for good yardage, but delivered the final blow to Chicago’s faint last second chances. The cocky corner had the Packer defense’s first turnover of the season, stealing an interception from Fields as the young quarterback desperately tried to make a play where it did not exist. This win gave Aaron Rodgers the most wins against the Bears of any Packer quarterback. Green Bay fans are hoping he adds on to his record when the two teams meet again in the windy city.