Packers receivers Jermichael Finley (88) and Greg Jennings celebrates Finley's TD catch in the first quarter as the Chicago Bears lost to the Green Bay Packers 27-17 Sunday September 25, 2011 at Soldier Field in Chicago. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: November 11, 2011 2:02PM
Jermichael Finley made it look so easy.
So did Greg Jennings. And Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb, for that matter. As good as Aaron Rodgers is, he had a big advantage in Sunday’s 27-17 victory over the Bears at Soldier Field — his receivers are almost always open.
When the Bears’ defense isn’t forcing turnovers, the bend-but-don’t-break nature of the cover-2 gives Rodgers and his receiving corps all the rope they need to tie the Bears into knots. Whether its first-and-10, second-and-short or third-and-long, Rodgers and his receivers find a way to get the job done.
‘‘They know what we do. It’s not hard to figure us out,’’ Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said. ‘‘They know the holes in the defense. They try to get to them. And they do a good job of that.’’
Finley, the 6-5, 247-pound tight end with the hands of a split end, caught seven passes for 85 yards and three touchdowns. The uncannily open Greg Jennings added nine receptions for 119 yards. He had four catches for 61 yards on the Packers’ first six plays of the game. Nelson had three catches for 40 yards and like the rest of them, came up big when he had to.
In one second-quarter sequence, Lance Briggs and Henry Melton had back-to-back tackles for loss setting up a third-and-seven at the Packers’ 41, Rodgers took the heat of the Bears’ pass rush, stepped up and hit Nelson for an 18-yard gain.
‘‘Those guys have been there for a while,’’ Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said. ‘‘They know the scheme. They know our defense. And Rodgers makes them go. He’s the best we’ve played this year, obviously. He knows what he’s doing with the football.’’
While Rodgers is enjoying a rise to greatness, his receivers don’t seem to get their share of the credit. Greg Jennings sure looks good against the Bears.
‘‘He’s a good player, but they’ve got a good offense,’’ Bears cornerback D.J. Moore said. ‘‘Whenever he cuts off his route, the ball is there for him.’’
But the ball is there for him because he cut off his route. The Packers seem to have a great sense of what to do when the initial play breaks down.
‘‘It’s not just him. It’s him and the quarterback,’’ Moore said. ‘‘All their receivers are the same way. When they come out, he throws it to them and they catch it. They’re in sync. You can always have good receivers. But if you don’t have a good quarterback, it’s going to be tough to get it to them.’’
Rodgers was 28-for-38 for 297 yards, three touchdowns and one interception for a 111.4 rating. His wide receivers and tight ends caught 24 passes for 281 yards.
‘‘Obviously, you’ve got to give them a lot of credit,’’ Tim Jennings said. ‘‘They’re a good football team. Not just the receivers, but the quarterback, offensive line. They had a good game plan for us. They converted some third downs, kept drives going and put points on the board.’’
With the Bears missing starting safeties Chris Harris (hamstring) and Major Wright (head/neck), defending the Packers’ receiving corps was that much tougher.
‘‘We were definitely cognizant of that,’’ Greg Jennings said. ‘‘We understand what Harris means to that secondary. He’s kind of the heartbeat of that secondary — a vital piece missing. But we just wanted to take advantage of our opportunities and not let it be about them.’’
Finley beat Brandon Meriweather, Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs, Tim Jennings and Craig Steltz for his three touchdowns.
‘‘I don’t think they’re tough to cover. But there’s a lot of them,’’ Moore said. ‘‘They’re good. They get open like a receiver should. But there are so many of them. And they can all play. At one point I think they had five wides out there. And I don’t think they lose anything [from 1-5].’’