The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears faced off for the 185th time on the NFL Network’s first telecast of Thursday Night Football and while one team didn’t disappoint the national television audience the other fell flat on their face, back and any other part of their body which they could. Entering the game many such as myself viewed this as close as a must-win scenario for Green Bay as possible this early in the season and I think the Pack realized that too.
The Packers dominated in every phase of the game en route to a 23-10 victory over their oldest rivals however the final score doesn’t do justice as to how lopsided of an affair this contest truly was. Aaron Rodgers had a rather pedestrian game by his standards (22-32, 219 yards, TD and INT) but the much maligned Green Bay defense played like we haven’t seen them perform since their Super Bowl season two years ago. Clay Matthews racked up seven tackles including 3.5 sacks as the Pack defense made Chicago’s offense sputter on just about each and every possession.
The turning point in the game came in the second quarter with Green Bay up just 3-0, when the Packers special teams went into the bag of tricks and dialed up an incredible fake field goal attempt that led to a 27-yard TD connection between punter Tim Masthay and seldom used wideout Tom Crabtree. That score made it 10-0 Pack and definitely deflated Chicago’s spirits.
One of the major headlines prior to the game was Jay Cutler‘s comments about what was going to happen to the Packers defensive backs if they played their usual press coverage, unfortunately for Cutler the attention was turned to him during and after the game because he was the one receiving all of the press(ure). Cutler (11-27 for 126 yards) was sacked seven times and picked off four times by Green Bay’s resurgent defense a feat that hadn’t been done to one quarterback in a single game since 2002 (Patrick Ramsey of the Washington Redskins).
To add insult to injury for the Bears, literally, running back Matt Forte went down in the third quarter with what the team is saying could be a high-ankle sprain. Usually the timetable for return to action due to an injury such as that is roughly between two to four weeks.
The defense wasn’t the only struggling part of the Packers game that got on track during this one, running back Cedric Benson (20 carries for 80 yards himself) was able to help them gain over 100-yards on the ground for the first time in quite some time and now all seems right in Title Town.
Now both teams stand at 1-1 on the season but they aren’t identical at all as the Packers have seemed to figure things out while it’s the Bears that need to go back to the drawing board and regain their momentum from week one. Up next for Green Bay is a road trip to Seattle to square off against the Seahawks while Chicago gets to return home where they will host the St. Louis Rams.