All statistics and snap counts are taken directly from the NFL's Game Statistic and Information System.
Last year the Green Bay Packers swept the two games from the Chicago Bears by a combined score of 93-31. When these two teams met last November, the Packers ran out to a 45-0 lead before the Bears managed a 3rd quarter (garbage) touchdown.
A loss is always tough, but yesterday the Bears led at the half 13-10 and they were within one point of everyone's pick to win the NFC North in the 4th quarter.
What helped the Bears hang with the Packers was a commitment to the running game as evidenced by 33 rushing attempts (including a couple QB scrambles). The biggest beneficiary to the ground rush was starting running back Matt Forte, who played in 69 of the team's 77 offensive snaps. His 105 first half rushing yards were the 3rd most he's ever had in the first half of a game and his 141 total yards on the ground was the 4th highest total of his career.
With 25 receiving yards, Forte had 166 yards from scrimmage, which makes it the 24th time he's gone over 150 yards from scrimmage in his career. That's actually the most of anyone in the NFL since Forte was drafted in 2008.
Forte had 24 rushing attempts (5.9 ypc), 1 rushing TD, and he hauled in 5 catches on 8 targets. Running back Jacquizz Rodgers played 8 snaps on offense and another 9 on special teams, while getting 4 caries for 16 yards and being targeted once. Rookie running back Jeremy Langford had a carry for a yard on 3 offensive snaps, with another 14 snaps in the 3rd phase.
The Bears clearly had a game plan to run the ball, control the clock and limit the chances for Green Bay's explosive offense. In the first half they dominated the time of possession (18:20 to 11:40), but by the end of the game Green Bay closed the gap (31:52 Chi to 28:08 GB). The Bears held the edge in many team categories; First downs 25 to 21, total yards 402 to 322, third down efficiency 65% to 60%, penalties 6 for 64 yards (Chi) to 10 for 74 yards (GB).
But in typical fashion, Green Bay does what Green Bay has done through the years, and they were 4 for 5 in Red Zone efficiency. The Bears were just 1 for 3 inside the 20. The Bears inability to stop Aaron Rodgers was a big reason they lost the game. Rodgers completed 18 of 23 passes for 189 yards, with 3 TDs and a 140.5 passer rating.
But back to the individual Bears stats...
The most targeted Bear was receiver Alshon Jeffery with 11, and he caught 5 of them for 78 yards. Jeffery was eased into the lineup by just playing 78% (60/77) of the snaps, and he was actually the 4th wide out to enter the game for the Bears.
Eddie Royal was the lone WR to start (65 snaps), and he had 1 catch for 8 yards on 6 targets. Marquess Wilson had the biggest play of his career with a 50 yard catch and run. Wilson caught both balls thrown his way for 59 yards, while playing 64 snaps. Josh Bellamy had 8 snaps at wide out and another 15 on special teams. Marc Mariani rounded out the receiver's playing time with 6 snaps on O and another 9 on special teams, where he returned 1 punt for 11 yards and had 48 yards on 2 kick returns.
I mentioned that Royal was the only WR to start and that's because the Bears opened up with three tight ends on the field. Martellus Bennett (74 of 77 snaps on O, 6 on ST), Zach Miller (11 offensive snaps) and Khari Lee (11 snaps on O, 13 on ST) all started the game. Bennett was targeted 7 times, he caught 5 balls for 55 yards and a TD. Miller was targeted once. It's worth noting that yesterday was the first regular season game that Miller has appeared in since October 16, 2011.
The five starting offensive linemen for the Bears played all 77 snaps and swing tackle Charles Leno Jr. got in for 6 snaps as an extra blocker (plus 10 more on ST). Starting right guard Vlad Ducasse was flagged twice for a false start, left guard Matt Slauson was caught holding as was left tackle Jermon Bushrod.
And that brings us to quarterback Jay Cutler.
First the negative, he was sacked twice, he threw an interception and he only completed 50% of his 36 pass attempts. He had quite a few at-the-line checks to make in the new offense, and I thought he ran things efficiently. The Bears' offense was playing at a much quicker pace than last season and Cutler was doing a solid job most of the afternoon. The Bears ran 30 plays from the no huddle yesterday after running just 60 all of 2014.
Cutler only ended up with a 65.5 passer rating and he threw for 225 yards. He also chipped in with 4 runs for 31 yards.
Kicker Robbie Gould became the Bears all time leader in field goals made with his 1st quarter 28 yarder. He was 3 for 3 on the day, increasing his career totals to 246 for 287 (85.7%). He was tied with Kevin Butler at 244. Later in the game, Gould hit a 50 yard field goal and that made him Chicago's all time leader in that category as well, again breaking a tie with Butler. He is now 17 for 23 (73.9%) all time on kicks 50+ yards.
The Bears only punted one time, but it was a booming 56 yarder by Megapunt Patrick O'Donnell.
Shifting gears to the defensive side of the ball, there were four Bears that played all 60 snaps on D, inside linebackers Christian Jones and Shea McClellin, and safeties Adrian Amos and Antrel Rolle. McClellin led the Bears with 8 total tackles and Jones was right behind him with 7. Rolle had 6 and Amos had 5 including a tackle for loss.
Starting corners Kyle Fuller and Alan Ball only came out for 1 play apiece, with Fuller making 2 tackles and Ball making 3. Fuller was also flagged for defensive pass interference. Also flagged for a DPI was nickleback Sherrick McManis, who played 55 of the 60 snaps on D as well as 10 of the ST snaps. He had 2 assisted tackles on defense and a solo tackle on special teams.
Pernell McPhee (6 tackles) led the OLBs in playing time with 51 snaps. Jared Allen (3 tackles) had 43, Willie Young (1 tackle) had 22 and Lamarr Houston only had 4.
Since the Bears were in nickle so much, their d-line rotation was a bit light. Will Sutton and Jarvis Jenkins are the only two linemen that started and they were the top 2 in playing time at their position with 39 and 37 snaps respectively. Jenkins had a tackle and a pass defense, while Sutton didn't scratch the stat sheet. Sutton did lead the d-linemen with 11 snaps on special teams.
Rounding out the defensive line, rookie Eddie Goldman (2 tackles, 1 TFL) had 24 snaps, Ego Ferguson had 23 and Cornelius Washington had just 1 after leaving with a quad injury.
Jumping back into the secondary, Demontre Hurst had 2 snaps on D and Brock Vereen had 1. Vereen did lead the team with 20 snaps in the 3rd phase and Hurst picked up a ST tackle in his 8 plays there.
A few other active special teamers for the Bears were newly promoted linebacker Lamin Barrow with 15 snaps (1 tackle), rookie LB John Timu with 15 and rookie DB Harold Jones-Quartey with 12 (1 ST tackle).
What are some of your thoughts on the stats and playing time breakdown?