It wasn’t pretty, but the Packers got the job done last night to start the season on a winning note. They beat the Bears on the road 10-3 to start 1-0 for the fifth consecutive year.
Offensively, the Packers looked pedestrian against a stout Bears defense. They put up only 213 total yards and 3.7 yards per play, and in the first quarter had a total of -12 yards, their lowest in a quarter since 1994. As a team, Green Bay finished with 22 rushes for only 47 yards, but they stuck to the run enough to help with play-action and the passing game. Aaron Rodgers finished 18/30 with 203 yards 1 TD, and a 91.4 rating, and although it was a struggle, the offense was able to put together a few solid drives to come out on top. Marquez Valdes-Scantling led the way in receiving with 52 yards, and Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham combined for 66 yards as well, with Graham catching the only touchdown of the game in the second quarter.
It was the Packers defense that carried them to victory in this one, as they allowed just 3 points, 3.9 yards per play, and 4.2 yards per pass play. They also recorded 5 sacks to match the Bears’ sack total, with half of those coming from the Smith brothers. Mitch Trubisky struggled all night, completing just 58% of his passes for 5.1 yards per attempt and an interception, and the Bears run game was silenced as well, totaling 15 carries for 46 yards.
Former Bears safety Adrian Amos picked off Trubisky late in the fourth quarter to essentially seal the Packers victory. Tramon Williams took a shot at Trubisky after the game, saying, “We wanted to make Mitch play quarterback… We knew they had a lot of weapons, we knew they were dangerous, we knew all of those things. But we knew if we could make Mitch play quarterback, that we’d have a chance.” The Packers cornerback clearly is not a believer in Trubisky, and many of the fans at Soldier Field seemed to lose faith as well, booing the team off the field a number of times.
Aaron Rodgers seemed extremely happy with the defense after the game, saying “What we did on defense, I think we showed the league and folks watching that we’re not just an offensive football team anymore. We’ve got a defense.” He added, “Yeah, that was fun to watch. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a performance like that.” The Packers have been a very offensive-minded team ever since winning the 2011 Super Bowl, and it looks like they might finally have the type of defense to balance it out, take some pressure off of Rodgers, and hopefully get back to being a Super Bowl-caliber team.
Punter JK Scott was another big bright spot for the Packers, totaling 428 yards on 9 punts (47.6 average) and pinning the Bears inside their own 20-yard line five times, including some huge punts late.
The Packers now have 5 of their next 6 games at home, with their next game coming at Lambeau against the Vikings next Sunday. Their offense will look to get back in synch, while the defense will try to repeat what they did last night. It wasn’t the most entertaining game in the world, but the Packers just showed the world that their defense is no longer one to be overlooked, and Rodgers may finally have the help on that side of the ball that he has been looking for.