Friday, September 14, 2012

Packers beat down Bears 23-10

Thursday night, on the hallowed ground of Lambeau Field, the 2012 Green Bay Packers rebounded from their Game One loss to the 49ers and throttled the Chicago Bears, 23-10. It was a hard-fought game on both sides of the ball, but the Packers dominated, particularly on defense. That's putting it mildly.

In fact, there's no better indication of the degree to which the Packers smacked Da Bearz around than can be garnered by listening to Chicago sports talk radio. As a Packer fan, there's nothing better than listening to Chicago sports pundits and fans ripping their team, and particularly QB Jay Cutler. Cutler was picked off 4 times and sacked 7 times, the first time that that has happened since Patrick Ramsey -- as a rookie -- had that kind of game in 2002 for the Redskins. Chicago's 168 total yards in offense was their worst against the Pack in 37 years. Cutler finished with a passer rating of 28.2. He was in perpetual pout mode throughout the game, often jawing at teammates in frustration, even bumping his left tackle as they want to the sidelines while chewing him out. (Yeah, Jay, that bit of leadership will sure get your teammates behind you.)

One of the keys to the game for the Packers, as was noted here yesterday in our game preview, was to get to Cutler repeatedly. They did. Cutler will be seeing Packers LB Clay Matthews, who had 4 sacks, in his nightmares for the rest of the season. The book on Cutler is when you get to him early and often he will get happy feet and start tossing the ball around. That's exactly what happened, and the result was 4 interceptions for the Packers, 2 by Tramon Williams.

The Packers defense, which was sieve-like against the Niners, played with an intensity and attitude that we can only hope to see carry over throughout the season. Pass coverage was tight, and the pass rush was effective. That typically will go a long way to helping increase the chances of a victory.

The other thing that helps increase the changes of a victory is the ability to run the ball. After only giving the ball to RB Cedric Benson 9 times on Sunday, the coaches finally decided to crank up the running game. Benson rushed 20 times for 81 yards. He also caught the ball four times for an additional 35 yards. That was huge. However, the Packers' inability to pick up a first down on third-and-one several times during the game was pathetic. Expect that to improve as the season goes along.

Another factor in last night's win, as suggested in our preview, was special teams. K Mason Crosby nailed three long field goals, including the longest by a Packers kicker at Lambeau, 54 yards. He also nailed field goals from 48 and 35 yards. He was also the decoy of sorts in one of the plays that helped break open the game: a fake field goal. Crosby lined up for a field-goal attempt of 45 yards. The holder, as always, was punter Tim Masthay. Crosby took his usual step after the snap and then veered hard left. As that was happening, TE Tom Crabtree, who was lined up on the left side in protection, moved back across the formation from left to right. From his kneeling position, Masthay flipped the ball to Crabtree, who broke around to the right side through a huge hole and scored without being touched to give the Pack a 10-0 lead. Great, gutsy call. And Tim Masthay wound up with a higher passing rating than Jay Cutler.

There's plenty of other pluses and minuses which we can go over...and maybe will later on. Or not. For now, let's just savor this great win for the Packers.

Say it with me: it's great to be a Packers fan!