Chicago Bears 10 – 26 Green Bay Packers
Welcome to my inaugural game recap column! Each week, I’ll strive to pick out a few key moments or themes that emerged within the game, award a very British style man-of-the-match award in my Player Of The Week, and maybe even throw in a few reactions that are definitely not a knee jerk, emotion-driven panic in the wake of a game.
Week 7 saw a resurgent second half by the Green Bay Packers, powered by the return of some vintage Aaron Rodgers quick-strike passing, that led to a 26-10 victory over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. Coming off of one of the most lackluster performances of recent Packers memory, with the entire starting backfield and starting cornerback depth decimated by injury, the Packers were able to find a way to eke out a game plan that may offer a map for how to fix some of what has ailed the offense.
Brian Hoyer Breaks His Arm – The injury of a starting quarterback is always going to reach the top of the list of key moments within a game. On a 3rd & 6, five minutes into the second quarter, the pass rush of linebacker Julius Peppers hit home on Hoyer, making contact with the Bears quarterback. As he connected, fellow pass rusher Clay Matthews came delivering a blow to Hoyer’s arm with the helmet. The injury to Hoyer, later confirmed as a broken forearm, was immediately apparent. This led to former USC quarterback Matt Barkley taking over signal calling duties for the Bears to the tune of a 6/15 for 81 yards performance. This obviously made it a much less stressful task for a depleted Packers secondary. We, at PTTF, wish Hoyer all the best for a speedy recovery.
Missed Touchdowns to Cobb – Another key moment (or two moments in this case) were potential touchdowns thrown to receiver Randall Cobb. On a 3rd down in the red zone midway through the first quarter, a dart thrown by Rodgers to Cobb in the end zone was knocked from his hands on a the kind of play we have seen Cobb make many times before. A catch would have given the Packers a 7 point lead to begin the game.
On the last drive of the first half, a perfect throw dropped right into the sweet spot by Rodgers and caught by Cobb in the back of the end zone was ruled incomplete, as Cobb couldn’t manage to get his second foot down in bounds as he was pushed out of the back of the end zone by Bears cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc.
Rodgers’ Sack Fumble – The key moment I’ve chosen as the turning point in this game is the early 3rd quarter fumble by Aaron Rodgers that led to a Bears touchdown. With TJ Lang out briefly, and ever up-and-down Don Barclay in at guard, Bears rookie outside linebacker Leonard Floyd was able to strip-sack Rodgers, recovering the fumble in the end zone for the Bears first defensive touchdown in over 2 years. As Rodgers noted in his post game press conference, however, this moment lit a fire under him that fueled the return of vintage Rodgers for the rest of the second half. This play was the tragedy that united the offense, and my key turning point for this week’s game.
Touchdown Davantae Adams – The fourth and final key moment for the game, in my most humble of opinions, is the third quarter touchdown from Rodgers to third year receiver DaVante Adams. While not a spectacular play in and of itself, a simple throw out to Adams who grabbed the ball over Bears cornerback DeVante Bausby, it punctuated a drive in which Rodgers came back from his fumble, and drove the length of the field on a strong series of short, quick passes to receivers who were finally creating separation. The spark from this drive continued on for the rest of the second half on offense, and hopefully we see this fire in Rodgers continue to the next game versus the Atlanta Falcons.
Player of the Week (Henceforth known as the Ty Montgomery Award)
I apologize for copping out on the single player of the week for the first issue of this column, but how can I be expected to choose between Ty Montgomery and DaVante Adams this week? That’s like trying to pick between whisky and beer, and as a Scotsman, making a decision there would be downright immoral…maybe even illegal.
On a roster all but devoid of running backs, wide receiver Montgomery showed why his teammates have commented that it’s almost impossible to define him by position. Montgomery rushed 9 times for 60 yards, alongside 10 receptions for another 66. While not only defined in the stats, the importance of Montgomery’s effort to an offense that needed to at least pretend to carry an element of run-pass balance while Rodgers dropped back 56 times was pivotal.
Couple that with the performance of DaVante Adams, much maligned (by yours truly) for his penchant for, well, for not catching the football, he put in a 13 reception on 16 target (81.25% catch rate) performance. Hauling in two critical second half touchdowns to breathe life into an offense that desperately needed it. In the second half, he also emerged as the only Packer able to consistently manufacture separation from coverage, with Rodgers saying in the post game presser that Adams was in such a groove he was calling routes to Rodgers with confidence he would make it. That confidence Adams seems to have finally found could lead to great things in the coming weeks if he is able to build on it.
- I would warn to approach this win with careful optimism rather than unbridled joy. While the offense seemed in the second half to have rediscovered the rhythm that has made it beautiful to watch for years prior to the last one, it was executed against a heavily depleted Bears defense with an injury situation almost on par to our own on that side of the ball. My two picks for the other powerhouse teams to beat in the NFC, the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks, are predominantly built around a strong defense that this Packers offense will need to figure out by the time those games come around. Hopefully this game was a stepping stone on which to build.
- LaDarius Gunter was magnificent. It’s no easy job for a second year, undrafted player to step up essentially into the #1 cornerback role as was shown by his shaky performance versus the Dallas Cowboys last week. Shadowing Alshon Jeffery for most of the game however, he held him to 3 catches for 33 yards, and at no point were the Bears able to find the end zone. While they weren’t exactly facing 2014 Peyton Manning, the young, heavily depleted secondary deserves a lot of credit for this performance, and should be better for the experience when Randall and Rollins return.