The Bears didn't perform to the level of expectations set for them from their coaching staff, players, and fans. The Bears were supposed to be able to outscore the Packers, but with Brandon Marshall only having 2 receptions, there wasn't much to be impressed with. Cutler was sacked 7 times and threw 4 interceptions. Clay Matthews was responsible for 3.5 of those sacks. Bears couldn't manufacture any points in first half, while the Packers were able to record a field goal, TD on a fake punt, and a FG off a Cutler interception with seconds to go in half. Bears made mistakes, Packers didn't. There just wasn't much to be happy about for the Bears coaching staff.
Although the Bears defense did a lot of things right, the offense could not get anything going. This was affordable in the beginning, because the Packers couldn't move the ball for scores either. After 3 drives (Green Bay got ball first) and three punts for each team, the score was 0-0 with 4:37 left in the 1st quarter.
Bears offensive struggles continued. The Bears best offensive play to that point was a passing interference call on Green Bay for 25 yards. The pass was to TE K. Davis streaking up the middle of the field. So, not exactly the high yardage offense the media and Bear fans were predicting for this prime-time television event. To no promise, the Bears fourth drive also stalled out and Bears punted the ball back to Packers.
It was at this juncture the Packers made a key adjustment in their run game. Up to this point in the game, Benson had 6 carries for 20 yards. The Bears were committed to stuffing the run. The adjustment was to send receivers on deeper routes and leak Benson out of the backfield for dump passes. Benson would fake that he was going to stay in and help block the pass rush, then release to flats or middle. This move exposed the Bears linebackers releasing deep early. Cover 2 Defense calls for LB play an instrumental role in the passing game. Rodgers is the best in the league at exposing LB pass coverage. On 2nd & 10, Rodgers connected with Benson for 17 yards. Then the very next play, Rodgers dumped to Benson for 8 yards. Keeping the Bears off-balance with a mix of runs and short passes, the Packers closed the first quarter with a little offensive momentum.
Continuing the Packers 5th drive... After a completion to Jermichael Finley, Packers faced a 3rd & 3 at midfield. Bears made a late substitution for the 3rd down play. Aaron Rodgers, being the savvy QB that he is, rushed the snap to catch the Bears on a 12-men on the field penalty, but the referees did not make the call initially. The 12th man was literally sprinting and leaping off the field when AR (Aaron Rodgers) snapped the ball. Rodgers was the responsible culprit for pointing and barking at the officials for their no-call. However, Packers reviewed it and the referees overturned their no call and penalized the Bears. Personally, I thought it was a bad call and I didn't think there was obvious evidence to make the overturn. But then again, we are dealing with refs that haven't had any experience at the NFL level. Anyways, this penalty extended the drive (Rodgers pass sailed incomplete on 3rd & 3 vs 11 Bears defenders.) But now it's 1st & 10 at Bears 37. Following four straight completions, Packers stalled at the Bears 27 yard line. On 4th down, Crosby successfully kicked a 48-yard field goal.
3-0 Packers 12:56 left in 2nd Quarter
Then it was the Bears turn to answer. The defense has held firm thus far and everyone was waiting for that Bears offense to start making some plays. Devin Hester got it started off with an explosive return to the Bears 37 yard line. If it wasn't for Mason Crosby (Packers K), Hester probably would've taken it to The House for six points. Coach Tice seemed to want to develop the ground attack early in this drive. RB Michael Bush ran the ball four times in a row, gaining 16 yards. The Bears were flexing their muscles with the ground game. Finally, Bears were able to complete a pass to Earl Bennett. So on 2nd & 6, just in Packers territory, RT Gabe Carimi makes a bone-head play by retaliating against A.J. Hawk (Packers LB). Hawk hit Carimi late after the whistle, but as the old cliché goes, it's always the reactor that gets caught. Referee flagged Carimi for 15 yards for Another Bears implosion. On 2nd & 26, Cutler was sacked by C. Matthews again and the frustration on the faces of the Bears offense was visible for all to see. With that penalty and sack, Cutler and the offense left the field with some drama. Cutler got in the face of LT Jamarcus Webb (responsible for the latest sack) and even gave him a shoulder nudge after giving him an earful. The frustration is evident and is affecting the offense.
The Packers made adjustments to their offense, but the Bears couldn't. Brandon Marshall did not catch a pass until the 4th Quarter. Why weren't the Bears coaching staff able to make the proper adjustments to get the ball to the talented receiver? I thought the slant route was there. Maybe they had to think deep? Packers did a great job of playing a Cover 2, which means a safety is always on top of Marshall. In quarterback thought process, that means, "I can't throw deep to him." But I also don't completely blame the coaches. I think the players are also to blame for not being able to take advantage of this extra attention on Marshall. If the Packers are always going to have 2 guys glued on Marshall's side, then how does that not open up other lanes to get the ball to others? If this were to happen, we would be talking about how much Marshall makes his teammates better. But, the offensive line cannot win individual matchups against the other team's pass rush. This has been shown and proven time and time again. It's true in any sport; if you can't beat the men across from you (especially at the line of scrimmage or "in the trenches") then you are not going to win championships.
Now it's the Packers getting the ball from their own 20. The adjusted "new run game" for the Packers (dumping the ball off to RB's after they fake pass block) wasn't getting them anywhere. Idonije snagged Kuhn on the first attempt. Two giant plays from Randall Cobb put the Packers offense all the way to the Chicago 27. The first play was a Rodgers short completion to Cobb who took it 20 yards. Rodgers was 7/7 of his last 7 attempts. The second big play by Cobb was a sweep right that got the Packers all the way down to the 11. Just when it looked like AR was going to make the Bears pay, Bears DE Peppers got a huge sack for a loss of 7. The very next play was DT Henry Melton's turn to sack AR for a loss of 9. On 3rd & long and backed up to the 27 (were at 11), Rodgers tried connecting with Cobb one last time, but fell incomplete. Field goal team came on.
Surprisingly, it was this field goal (with no offensive starters) that was the halftime highlight. Bears did their usual overload of one side to attempt to block the field goal. Bears have had a lot of success pushing the tallest players (Israel Idonije, Julius Peppers) through the offensive line to get their "big ole paws" up and block the kick. Well, the Packers coaches did their diligence in the film room and saw this Bears tendency. I do not know if the coaches called it from the beginning or if the players made the proper audible on the field. Either way, it was a fantastic call or it worked to perfection. The play went like this; Snap of the ball, the left tight end (Crabtree) ran across the center to the right side. At this time, the holder shovel-passed it as the right side of the line flanked, or walled off the overloaded Bears block rush (6-7 players on the left side). One, easy, double teamed block on Chris Conte was the only thing between the backup TE Crabtree and the first Lambeau Leap of the game.
Touchback - No chance for Hester to return this one. With less than two minutes, Coach Lovie Smith put the Bears in 2 minute drill mode. On 1st & 10, Jamarcus Webb's mistakes continued with a false start penalty. But on 2nd down, Cutler found Forte for 22 yards, which was all yacs for Forte. Cutler then tried deep to Jeffery. On the very next play from the Chi 37, Cutler got picked off by Traman Williams. The pass was intended for Earl Bennett. Cutler was rushed on this play and was trying to desperately make something happen. The upstairs replay refs did review the play, because it appeared the interception did catch the field turf, as it was a diving catch. Play Stood.
Rodgers (possessed all 3 timeouts) orchestrated a 6 play, 31 yard drive that took the entire remaining 1:07 to get a field goal from Mason Crosby to take the halftime lead 13-0. Short dump passes was still the run game. As the 70,543 in attendance focused in, Chicago Bears LB Lance Briggs had an interception in his hands with :26, but couldn't bring it in. He baited Rodgers right into it. The field goal was 35 yards by Mason Crosby with :01.
Dom Capers, defensive coordinator for the Packers called a great first half. Cuter didn't have time to set up in the pocket at all. The offensive line didn't have a chance to get comfortable with any formation. The Packers were able to rush 5 guys all night and get pressure very quickly on Cutler. The run game had success, but the Bears shot themselves in the foot on offense consistently. Whether it was sacks (2), Delay of Game penalty, Gabe Carimi 15-yard personal foul, or the interception... IMPLOSION in first half!
Negatives: Fake punt, Carimi penalty, Webb penalty, sacks, 0 catches by Brandon Marshall, Cutler yelling at teammates
Positives: Stopping Packer offense, Hester return, Tim Jennings at CB, only down 13.
2nd half. Bears ball
On Bears opening drive, the Bears realized they are still in this game even though they haven't played very well. The defense will keep this team in almost all games. On 3rd & 5, Cutler passed TO Forte. Cutler had to step up in the pocket to make this even possible. With a first down, the Bears looked like they were going to settle in. Cutler and Forte connected on two lengthy plays that set up Bears first scoring opportunity. But this connection of plays came at a cost. Forte left the field shortly thereafter and didn't return. From the GB 27 (deepest Bears had been in Packer territory), Tice called the perfect play and Cutler read the Packer defense perfectly. It was 3rd&4, Marshall ran a flag (corner of end zone) route. The pass was just too high, even though Marshall had both hands on it; he was not able to create a 13-7 score. Solid kicker Robby Gould made a 45 yard field goal. 13-3
8:49 remaining in 3rd Quarter
Bad news: Forte left the field at this time. Not sure how long he will be out.
Packers got the ball and tried to hammer Benson down the Bears throats. But a three-&-out resulted after Urlacher stuffed Benson at the line of scrimmage. Urlacher was great on this play. #54 stretched the play out and pushed lead blocker Kuhn right into Benson. All of the sudden, Bears have momentum, because they started the half with a solid drive with no implosions and a defensive 3 and out.
On the following punt, just when Hester finally caught the punt with some room, Kuhn made a great stop on Hester. Hester had some room to run and it looked like Kuhn just made the better play.
With Forte leaving the game, the Bears looked to continue to run with RB Michael Bush. This instance is exactly why Bears GM Phil Emery signed Bush in the offseason (also Forte was in a contract dispute at the time) to cover the case of a Fore injury. In this drive, Bush blasted through on 3rd & 1 for a first down. Bears began to control the time of possession in second half at this point. Armando Allen, running back from Notre Dame, came in for a carry and got destroyed by DT Raji. Next comes a false start by TE K. Davis. On 3rd & 11, after Jay eludes several pass rushers, Cutler finds Bennett open over the middle. However, Bennett did not come back to the ball and S Charles Woodson capitalized by covering over 8 yards to step in front of Bennett and intercept it. WR Earl Bennett waited for the ball to come to him, instead of coming back for the ball. This lesson is one that Bennett has probably heard a million times since graduating at Vanderbilt Undersity, but he didn't execute it in prime time.
A frustrated Bears defense comes out to face last year's MVP, trailing 13-3 at the 3:11 mark in 3rd Quarter. But Peanut Tillman created and continued the Bears (2nd Half) momentum by punching the ball loose from J. Finley and recovering it. 1st & 10 Bears ball from the Chi 33 with :53 in 3rd.
Unfortunately, this drive didn't even last until the end of the quarter. First play run, second play tipped by Raji (no time to pass), and third play was dropped by Hester. PUNT. Three quarters without Brandon Marshall even touching the ball? I do not understand this.
4th Qtr. Packers 13 Bears 3 - Bears still in the game.
Randall Cobb returned the punt 16 yards to the GB 43. In 6 plays, Rodgers took what the defense gave him to get to the Chi 36. Urlacher and Briggs stuffed John Kuhn again on 3rd & short. But Mason Crosby extended Packers lead to 16-3 with a 54 yard field goal.
Hester return to 26 with 11:37 to go in the game. It was either, come up with something now or it isn't going to happen tonight. Bears were trailing by 13 points and had very low offensive production. Cutler tried to make something happen, but underthrew Marshall. On a play action pass, Marshall had beaten the Packers secondary, but Cutler was not able to fully set and throw his best. Marshall was not able to adjust to the ball in the air, and T. Williams recorded his 2nd interception of the game. Marshall ran a great route and Tice called a great play.
The kill shot came on the very next play. Rodgers passed to WR Donald Driver on a post route for a 27 yard touchdown. This was Driver's 60th touchdown reception in his career. 23-3
Nothing changed after this, Bears offensive line holding penalty stalled the subsequent drive.
Tim Jennings picked off Rodgers for his 3rd interception on the season. Tim was one of the positives for the Bears on Thursday night. He had 9 tackles and one tackle for loss from his CB position.
Bears start with the ball at the GB 24 thanks to CB Jennings. Cutler found TE Davis for a 21-yard touchdown to put the Bears into double digits. 23-10.
Packers went into clock management mode until they had to punt. Again, the punt was too deep for Hester to return and resulted in another touchback.
Chicago didn't make it past their own 23 before Cutler, trying to force plays now, was picked off by S J. McMillian. The second half blunders continued from the first half to the second.
The Bears will have to be much more disciplined on the offensive side of the ball. Preparations need to begin on how to get the ball to Brandon Marshall when teams play Cover 2 all night. Bears also need to find better ways to get the offensive line help. This group is not one that is going to improve that much. When Bears go up against a GREAT defense, this line will struggle. The injury status of Matt Forte is not to be taken lightly. Remember, when Forte went down last season, the season went with him. Bears have added proper depth this season to combat this.
The Bears defense couldn't have played much better. They forced and earned all of the turnovers they had. (Tillman, Jennings) Holding one of the best offenses to 23 is a great accomplishment. The offense takes the blame here. Five sacks recorded by the defense. (Peppers 2, McLellin 1.5)
Bears didn't show a great amount of poise in this game. When things go bad, players and coaches need to toughen up. Get to the sideline and figure out the proper adjustments or reads.
I am most amazed at the non creativity to get Marshall the ball OR ability of Cutler to be able to take advantage of the overloaded defense. Green Bay continues prime time games next Monday Night at Seattle. Bears play host to St. Louis in a 1:00 Chicago time game. Both teams 1-1. BEAR DOWN