Aaron Rodgers, Packers do a number on Bears, Jay Cutler
by sean jensen email@example.com September 25, 2011 10:02PM
Updated: November 11, 2011 2:02PM
A week after they showed they couldn’t close, the Bears reversed course against the Green Bay Packers and showed they couldn’t start.
And as Aaron Rodgers marched the Packers down the field on the opening possession, Bears defensive tackle Anthony Adams had a disturbing flashback.
“It was reminiscent of the NFC Championship Game on the first possession,” Adams said. “It was like, ‘Man, not again.’ But they came in and did it again.”
And once again at Soldier Field, the Packers walked away winners.
This time, though, the final margin was even greater, as the Packers jumped out to a 17-point lead and secured a 27-17 victory Sunday that pushed their record to 3-0.
“I’m not making any excuses,” coach Lovie Smith said. “They were better than us. We have to regroup.”
Like clockwork, Rodgers completed his first four passes, netting 55 yards, before he launched a ball toward the end zone — knowing he had a free play because linebacker Lance Briggs jumped offside — that cornerback Charles Tillman intercepted. But Rodgers finished the drive with two more completions, including a six-yard touchdown to tight end Jermichael Finley.
The response of the Bears’ offense was all too familiar: a punt.
After the Bears allowed a three-point, third-quarter deficit against the New Orleans Saints to spiral into a 30-13 loss, the offense had a chance to rebound against the Packers’ defense, a unit that had given up 932 passing yards in the first two weeks.
How the defense and special teams would fare against the Packers was unclear, but the offense surely could take advantage of the league’s worst pass defense, one that was shredded for 432 yards in Week 2 by Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton.
Through three quarters, Jay Cutler completed only 12 of 26 passes for 199 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His rating was 69.2, and he was sacked twice.
Still, in classic Bears fashion, the defense and special teams provided some drama in the fourth quarter.
Briggs forced a fumble that defensive end Julius Peppers recovered, and linebacker Brian Urlacher intercepted Rodgers on the next series. But the offense could only score one touchdown off the two turnovers, and the Bears punted the ball away from their 29-yard line with 7:15 left.
“We weren’t on target,” receiver Roy Williams said. “There were plays we wish we could have back.”
Pick any number of penalties or drops, including one by receiver Johnny Knox late in the third quarter. Cutler drilled a pass to him in the middle of the field for at least 20 yards, but he couldn’t bring it in.
“Plain and simple: unacceptable. I got to catch that,” Knox said.
But the blame wasn’t the offense’s alone.
The defense couldn’t contain wide receiver Greg Jennings and Finley. Jennings finished with nine catches for 119 yards, including six for 78 in the first quarter, and Finley had three touchdowns.
“We just didn’t make plays,” Peppers said. “There’s no explanation for why we didn’t get the job done. We just didn’t get it done.”
Ultimately, though, Rodgers made key plays.
He finished 28-for-38 for 297 yards and had enough timely completions and enough brilliant plays to push his record against the Bears to 5-1 in his last six starts against them.
“You don’t want to take any credit from them as a team because they got a great team and great coaches over there. But a lot of stuff revolves around Aaron,” Peppers said. “He does a great job of controlling that team and the offense. It’s tough to deal with. But, at the same time, we didn’t play as well as we should have.”
Peppers was speaking for his defense, but his statement applied to the whole team.