The Bears couldn’t bully the Packers. Nor could they outexecute them Sunday. “Penalties, interceptions, miscues, missed blocks; if we go down the line, everyone probably had a mistake,” Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said. Even the Bears’ best play in years backfired in Green Bay’s 27-17 victory at Soldier Field.
CHICAGO – The Bears told the world they were going to run more this week.
“When a team tries to establish the run, that typically means they are trying to bully your team,” Packers cornerback Charles Woodson said.
The Bears couldn’t bully the Packers. Nor could they outexecute them Sunday.
“Penalties, interceptions, miscues, missed blocks; if we go down the line, everyone probably had a mistake,” Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said.
Even the Bears’ best play in years backfired in Green Bay’s 27-17 victory at Soldier Field.
Trailing by 10 points with 69 seconds remaining, Devin Hester and eight blockers raced to the left side of the field drawing 10 defenders on a Green Bay punt. But the punt was to the right and Johnny Knox went 89 yards for the easiest punt return of his life.
Except it didn’t count. Corey Graham was called for holding on the play.
“That was hands down the best play I’ve ever seen,” Packers receiver Greg Jennings said. “That was not a fluke. That wasn’t by luck. That was by design. That was pretty neat.”
Neat, but frustrating.
As opposed to Chicago’s running game, which was ugly and frustrating.
The Bears (1-2) had their fewest rushing yards (13) in more than a half-century and ran only 12 times for the second consecutive week.
“We didn’t run the ball because we weren’t able to,” said Matt Forte, who lost yardage on six of his first eight carries. “We just played bad out there. … Maybe three or four times when I got the ball, there weren’t any errors.”
The defending Super Bowl champs dominated from the start, gaining 13, 12, 19 and 11 yards on the first four plays of the game and taking a quick 7-0 lead with a 6-yard pass to Jermichael Finley.
The Packers (3-0) made it 14-0 with a 7-yard pass to Finley early in the second quarter. Finley caught a third touchdown, a 10-yarder on third-and-9, to make it 27-10 with 12:49 to play.
“Against the Cover 2 (defense), you are going to work the middle of the field, and the tight ends have a great advantage when it comes to working the middle of the field,” Jennings said.
Jennings (nine catches for 119 yards) also tormented the Bears over the middle, but the Bears said Aaron Rodgers (28-for-38 for 297 yards) was the main problem.
“As long as No. 12 is going to be playing quarterback, it doesn’t matter who they have in there,” Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “Jermichael Finley is a big target. He’s an athletic guy. But Rodgers makes them go.”
Two turnovers created by their biggest defensive stars gave the Bears an unexpected chance late.
Green Bay ran for 100 yards, but couldn’t pull away because it couldn’t run consistently, gaining 85 of those yards on eight carries and 15 yards on their other 21 rushes. On their worst run, Lance Briggs poked the ball loose from James Starks one play after safety Morgan Burnett intercepted Cutler for the second time and Julius Peppers recovered. Cutler (21-for-37, 302 yards) threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kellen Davis on the next play.
Four plays later, Urlacher made a diving interception, giving the Bears the ball at their 45 with 9:27 left trailing 27-17.
But the Bears were called for three penalties before their next snap, leaving them with first-and-25. They wound up gaining just two first downs on their final three possessions.
“It’s not like all is lost,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “We saw some improvement.”
Nor is all perfect for the Packers. Just their record.
“We have three ugly wins,” Woodson said, “but they’re wins, so thank God. It’s easier to build off wins.”
Matt Trowbridge can be reached at: 815-987-1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.