How often does a team get to clinch their division and eliminate their most obnoxious rival in the same fell swoop?
This is a precious moment.
I came into this game confident the Bears defense was going to bring their best and show they’re the best unit in the league right now. I was hopeful the offense would be able to do their part, but part of me feared a few big mistakes might keep the Packers in the game much longer than they deserved. That second part of me was unfortunately validated in the second half, when a pair of failed gimmicky plays each gave the ball to the Packers and the pesky cheese-heads actually capitalized on one of them.
Once the Bears retook the lead in the 4th, my nerves subsided. Aaron Rodgers was already on tilt, and I knew we could relax into the warm and safe mama-bear embrace of the sublime Bears defense.
Jordan Howard finally settling into a central role in Nagy’s offense
Throughout this year, the Bears offense has been fun, it’s been exciting, it’s been effective. It hasn’t been bruising enough. Jordan Howard’s thumping trucking ways are becoming a welcome staple of the Bears offense. Jo Ho picked up more first downs than I can count, snatched a few balls with his upgraded paws, and pranced into the end zone for the easiest-looking 9 yard rush TD I’ve seen all year.
Leonard Floyd terrorizing Packers all around the field today
You have to love the sacks, but he had crucial plays in the running and passing games as well. He’s an underrated versatile weapon for this Bears defense.
Khalil Mack with the butt sack
Jason Spriggs couldn’t slow Khalil Mack down, he could only turn him around as he slammed into Aaron Rodgers, allowing him to sit down and smother the one-time Wisconsin hero. It would have been more satisfying to have Goldman or Hicks sit on his desperately squirming body, but I can settle for this.
Tarik Cohen works that sideline like no Bear I’ve seen
That touchdown. I thought he was out of bounds before the five yard line, but he manages to turn and run along the line without losing speed and sometimes it’s unbelievable to watch. He did it again for a first down, toeing the line another 5 yards beyond where I was certain his momentum would take him out.
Trubisky consistent and calm in a big moment
Trubisky had a solid game. He didn’t have any dramatic errors and he didn’t have any wow moments. He was mostly accurate, and earned the Bears some crucial first downs with his elusiveness. He protected the ball and led the offense to enough points to eliminate the Packers from the playoffs. I’ll take that any week.
Ok, so Nagy might still be learning on the job a little bit
Handoff to your 4th-string running back on 3rd and 3? Perhaps a poor idea. Fake-punt run attempt with your 3rd-string running back on 4th and 2? Maybe getting a little too cute. Having your 5’6” running-back attempt a read option on third and short in field goal range? Possibly risky. You could be frustrated that Nagy is making mistakes. I prefer to be encouraged by the fact that he’s succeeding despite the fact that he’s clearly still learning.
Sherrick McMannis looking good in coverage
With Bryce Callahan’s injury, McMannis is tasked with nickle cornerback duties for at least the rest of the regular season. He played admirably today for a “career special-teamer.” He was never a liability in coverage and had a great 3rd down pass deflection against Randall Cobb.
Allen Robinson turns crap Pack tackles into RAC
Robinson had two big plays in the first half after evading Packers sub-mediocre tackle attempts, the first going for 30 yards and the second earning a first down on 2nd and 18.
Pat O’Donnell brutally punts the Packers within the 5 yard line twice
I wanted to see a safety on that bratty Packer quarterback so badly.
Josh Bellamy with a standout game
Beezo has always been a solid contributor on special teams, and stepped up today, downing the ball at the 2 yard line. But he’s been getting decent offensive snaps and showing he deserves it, catching a high pass for a first down that set up Tarik Cohen’s pre-halftime touchdown.
Get well soon Aaron Lynch
Lynch has been a solid contributor all season and a crucial part of the Bears pass rush especially when Khalil Mack was out for two games. As long as Mack is healthy, the Bears will be able to make due without him, but he’s outperformed expectations and I certainly want him on the field for the playoffs.
Aaron Rodgers season crumbled before our eyes
I swear 5 minutes into the 4th quarter when the Bears defense smothered a second three-and-out in a row, I saw an unmistakable “screw this. I’m going to go film some commercials with my
only All State friends” look in his eye.
402 Zero pass attempts without an interception
At least there’s something to do for Rodgers the rest of this season. Time to get that tally started again, buddy.
Get well soon, Eddie Jackson
You can take a nap for 49ers week, but I’d love to see you back on the field for the Vikings. Kay?
This wasn’t the start-to-finish domination we were hoping for. Instead, the Bears were challenged. Not so much by the quasi-decent play at times coming from the Packers, but more by a few costly mistakes and missed opportunities. The result was a combined success from all aspects of this Bears team. The Bears needed Trubisky to play well, and he did. They needed the defense to make some crucial stops, and they did. They needed Pat O’Donnell to pin the Packers back twice. You guessed it, he did.
This was an impressive win that builds my confidence that the Bears can paw their way below the surface level of the playoffs. Things aren’t always going to go well, but there’s no shortage of Bears able to step up and make the difference when the play needs to be made.
This season is exceeding our wildest expectations.