It wasn’t pretty, but the Bears are now 3-0. It’s often said in Chicago that the Bears can go 2-14 and it will be a successful season if they sweep the Packers. I don’t know if I would go quite that far, but it is a special thing for this Bears’ to see his team defeat their most bitter rivals. The Bears-Packers rivalry is the oldest and fiercest rivalry in the NFL, and last night’s game will go down as one of the more memorable contests.
If you look at the box score of the game, you might wonder how the Packers lost this game. Consider the following: The Packers significantly out gained the Bears in total net offensive yards (379 to 276); the Packers had a significant time of possession edge (35:49 to 24:11); the Packers ran more offensive plays than the Bears (60 to 48); the Packers had more net yards passing (316 to 199) and yielded no sacks while getting three themselves. In fact, in most meaningful statistics, the Packers beat the Bears last night.
Yet perhaps the most glaring statistic that lead to the Packers’ downfall was this one: 18 for 152. That’s the number of penalties the Packers committed and the yardage lost by penalty.Of the 18 first downs the Bears gained, five were by way of penalty. A holding penalty by the Packers nullified a TD pass from QB Aaron Rodgers to TE Jermichael Finley. A personal foul (head to head contact) by the Packers erased a Jay Cutler interception, and a clear pass interference nullified another Cutler pick. The Packers were continually shooting themselves in the foot with penalties.
Another glaring stat is 1-1, which indicates the number of fumbles and fumbles lost the Packers had last night. That one turnover (I don’t really count the Rodgers interception at the end of the first half) came at the most opportune time for the Bears. With the score tied at 17 in the 4th quarter and the Packers marching down the field (and killing the clock as they were going), Aaron Rodgers tossed a 12 yard pass to WR James Jones. Jones was stood up by LB Lance Briggs and LB Brian Urlacher punched the ball loose to be recovered by DB Tim Jennings with 2:18 to go in the game. That set up the Bears’ game winning FG by Robbie Gould.
With that said, here are the awards for last night’s game:
The return (literally and figuratively) of Devin Hester. Hester recorded his first punt return for a TD since the end of the 2007 season; a drought of about 30 games. Hester almost broke one for a TD earlier in the game, but a spectacular tackle by the punter saved the TD. Hester only caught one pass for 16 yards, but he had three punt returns for 93 yards including the score!
DE Julius Peppers! Statistically, he didn’t appear on the score sheet often (2 tackles and a QB hit), but what doesn’t appear in the box score is the disruptive force he was in the game. Peppers was ‘officially’ held twice, but in reality, if you look closely at the game, he was held way more often than that. Peppers was clearly held on what looked like a TD for the Packers. If the Bears could generate any significant pass rush from any of the other linemen, they would have had multiple sacks. Peppers also got the crucial FG block that kept the Packers from extending their lead.
The Bears’ pass defense. They allowed 316 yards and generated no sacks. Rodgers was 34 of 45 with a 92.5 passer rating. TE Jermichael Finley had 9 receptions for 115 yards and WR Donald Driver also had 9 receptions for 61 yards. The Bears have to do a better job at stopping their opponents. This “bend, but don’t break” defensive philosophy that the Bears employ is only good if you can actually stop your opponent from time to time. The Packers had three drives of 12 or more plays that ate up nearly 24 minutes of game time; that’s too much. This is the second game in a row where the Bears were out gained by their opponent and held the ball about 10 minutes less than their opponent. Definitely need to improve here.
The Bears’ goal line offense. The Bears’ were 0 for 2 in goal-to-go situations last night. That’s the second time they went 0 for 2 in those situations (they are 2 for 6 overall this season). The Bears were stuffed on a 3rd and goal from the GB 1 at the end of the game, and they failed to score on a 4th and goal from the GB 1 in the 3rd quarter on an incomplete pass to TE Desmond Clark. I just have a feeling that if this stat doesn’t improve soon, it will come back to bite them later.
Sunday night at New York to face the 1-2 Giants. My early prediction? Bears 28, Giants 17.