So, yesterday was one of those games that a three-win team like the Bears really shouldn't have been in from the start, yet were because if nothing else, the team at least plays really really hard. And for the first half, they looked like they were going to at least have a really tight game after Josh Bellamy ran over Demarious Randall for a touchdown.
Then, the third quarter happened, and it couldn't have been any worse for the Bears. Matt Barkley, who'd thrown a Hail Mary ending the half that was picked off, was hit with a strip sack that turned into an immediate field goal for the Packers on the ensuing drive. The next drive ended in a Barkley interception by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, which the Packers converted for a touchdown. The next drive ended in a Barkley interception by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, which the Packers converted for a touchdown.
(No, I promise that wasn't a glitch, I actually typed that twice. Because that's how it happened.)
Both those turnovers created points for the Packers, and the Bears fell behind 17 points. Of course, at that point you just think the game's over immediately, right? Someone forgot to tell the Bears that. Alshon Jeffery had gone the entire game to that point without a reception, and he finally made an impact on the game in a big way. Barkley found Jeffery for 23 yards, then 27 yards to make 1st and goal at the 8; Jeffery took the 8 yard completion on 2nd and goal for his second touchdown of the season.
It didn't stop there; after a three and out, the Bears churned up the field smoothly; then on first and 10 from the 27, Barkley drew a roughing the passer penalty after a 9 yard completion. On first and goal from the nine, Jordan Howard plowed into the end zone to draw the game to within three. They forced another three and out and things really got interesting.
Deonte Thompson had a huge game, came up with a big third-down conversion and left injured (and would return); Cam Meredith converted a third down out of an empty set to set the Bears at the Green Bay 43. After a defensive holding penalty, Jeremy Langford took a short pass 18 yards to get into the red zone, then Jordan Howard took a carry 13 yards to get to the three yard line. Howard rushed for no gain, but Logan Paulsen committed a holding penalty to create 1st and goal from the 13. Barkley hit Meredith for 9 yards and Jordan Howard rushed for no gain to create third and goal at the four yard line. This is where things really got interesting, with 1:34 remaining in the game, the Bears having two timeouts and Green Bay having none.
The Bears chose to throw a contested pass to the front corner of the end zone. I'll go more into my disappointment here later, because there's a lot more that happened after the Bears tied the game with a field goal.
The Packers were left with 1:19 to work with, and they made the most of it after the Bears forced third and 11 (the Packers suffered an injury which required a timeout; without the timeout, the Packers would have to have a ten-second runoff, but the Bears declined it thinking they would have more time if they forced the Packers to punt).
So, uh, does anybody remember the play where Chris Conte got burned bad over the top and the Bears gave up a game winning touchdown on fourth down? Of course you do because damn near the same thing happened here, except there was no safety help for Cre'Von LeBlanc as Jordy Nelson hauled in a 60-yarder to bring the Packers into field goal range. Which of course Mason Crosby hit.
- You know, there's a lot of points you can agree or disagree with the coaching on both sides in this one, but I'll start with the above third-down incompletion, which I'd say is where things got bad. You have all the control of the clock and the pace of the end of the game, a running back who's had a really good day, two timeouts... and a contested pass is what you come up with? Even if you flop on the run, it's 40 less seconds that Green Bay has and they can do nothing about it. After the incompletion, I was in favor of the field goal, but with two timeouts left and some really good field position (GB pinned back), the Bears would at least have had 40 seconds if they forced a three and out from some pretty good field goal position to get a touchdown. So, really, they ended up choosing the worst possible combination to win the game. It's a really interesting discussion.
- Can I ask another question: Did I see Bobbie Massie literally tackle Howard himself on second and 4?
- Speaking of interesting discussions, the first fourth down the Packers attempted over the Bears, already up 7-0 and at the 22 yard line. This was one I agreed with. You're deep in opposing territory, you're up against a team that actually had only stopped one fourth down throughout the year, and you're going for a chance to go up 14-0 early in the game. It's safer to attempt the field goal and go up 10-0, yes, but there's nothing wrong with the aggressive move there. The miss likely impacted the Packers' later decision to kick a field goal instead of push for fourth and goal from the 1 on the first third quarter score.
- You know, for the most part I didn't have a complaint with the Dowell Loggains gameplan except for the third down play selection on the Cam Meredith 3rd and 2 (the empty set nonsense) and the pass play at the goal line. In the second half, he kept putting the ball in Matt Barkley's hands because, well, it was thanks to Barkley's interceptions in part that the Bears were down by 17 points. But really, even though Howard was running well (5.3 YPC), in the second half the game devolved into a shootout, and while Barkley misfired on overthrows to Clinton-Dix (pretty badly, I might add), he still played well enough to get Cam Meredith and Deonte Thompson both into the 100-yard club. Thompson played really well. A note: Bellamy had one reception on the day on three targets, and appears to be the one phasing out with the return of Alshon Jeffery, but the limited action he did have was some really good stuff. Except for the drop on the (minorly underthrown though it hit him in the hands) bomb by Barkley.
- So, Jeffery dropped the ball on his first target and wasn't heard from until the second half - then he ripped off 86 yards in a damn hurry. Might have something to do with the off coverage the Packers were playing most of the day that two receivers not named Jeffery got 100 yards, but a mostly good game by the receiving corps. But it's funny how different things look when you actually add a legit NFL receiver to the Backup Squad.
- That being said, largely Barkley had a very good, competitive game, except for that stretch of strip-sack and two interceptions, and if not for the non-functional interception to end the half (yes, it's an interception, but it did exactly for the Packers what the Cubs signing Jon Jay did for the Packers - not a damn thing), Barkley's passer rating would have been a solid 95. I'm not sure what Barkley saw on Clinton-Dix's two interceptions - he had a small window to hit Daniel Brown, but Brown's not exactly the guy I want to throw at in triple coverage, and Daniel Braverman probably isn't used to having the ball thrown his way just yet. I'm not sure if either could have had a play on their respective throws.
- Of course the question everyone's asking is if Barkley's in play for next year's starter's role already - the answer, probably appropriate to appropriate here, is R-E-L-A-X. He gets two more games to strut his stuff, against Washington and the Vikings, and at the minimum he's earned a shot at the backup role. He's played well thus far especially for a backup/emergency guy, but remember that as well as he's gone this year, he's still at 6 TD to 7 INT on the season (but if you want to make an argument just on his starts and leaving out this Hail Mary INT, I can listen to a 6:4 ratio argument, but the stats in the end are the stats).
- I do, however, have an issue with the Bears' run defense and their apparent allergy to tackling Cheeseland's newest superhero apparently, Ty Montgomery. He had a great game, that's for sure. If only the broadcast would have talked about him more, I would have loved to hear about his conversion from receiver to feature back. Maybe they could have talked about Aaron Rodgers' calf injury and how much it was apparently holding him back as he evaded numerous pressures from a Bears' front seven that had him in their sights.
- In all serious, Montgomery has really come along and had the Bears taking bad angles and was shrugging off arm tackles all day. The Bears had numerous opporunities to nail him out of the backfield, but Montgomery and Christine Michael both contributed to a team yards-per-carry of 9.8, which is flat out ridiculous. And horrible tackling.
- I think I've had enough of seeing Tracy Porter. And it's really interesting that in the perfect time to play young players that Deiondre' Hall just can't make his way onto the field ahead of Porter and LeBlanc.
- So how dire is the safety situation when a safety isn't even visible on Jordy Nelson's game-breaking 60-yarder? LeBlanc at least held Nelson to 6 receptions for 64 yards before that play, but asking him to cover Nelson on a streak route with nothing over the top is just begging for Rodgers to throw deep and have Nelson run under it.
- Davante Adams really should be better at catching than he is. He cost the Packers two touchdowns by himself over the game. And speaking of catching things you really should, hello Deon Bush. My goodness.
- So Leonard Floyd was stuck in spy duty on Rodgers, which, okay, because Pernell McPhee got him and CJ Wilson actually chased him down, but... why isn't he the rush guy later in the game? Maybe it speaks to both Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan being injured that that was the spot Floyd was in, but he registered exactly nothing to the stat sheet. I guess one way to take Floyd out of a game is to take him out yourself.
- Willie Young really should have been hit with a roughing the passer penalty for the extra slam delivered after Wilson's sack was negated by a defensive holding call - which probably explains the later roughing the passer penalty where Rodgers was normally tackled.
- On the subject of tackles, if Charles Leno can be upgraded on, please do. He's had a pretty decent year, but was directly responsible for the one sack Barkley suffered as Peppers just ripped right by him. The unit did a pretty good job in the pass game on the day and Barkley avoided a couple good pressures himself, including the one deep throw that came off an evasion of Clay Matthews.
- John Timu made a play to stop a scrambling quarterback from reaching the marker. If only he'd made that play last week.
And that's about it for this one. The Bears overcame a deficit of largely their own creation but ultimately fell on their face when the game was most on the line. They're a little closer than we think, but they still have a ways to go (what three win team doesn't?).
What's on your mind from yesterday's game?