Well holy sh!t.
I had this article pretty much written at halftime. It was all about the “what if.” What if they knelt before the half instead of giving up a defensive touchdown inside of two minutes (remember that next time you’re upset about a conservative move)? What if Kizer threw a TD instead of getting strip sacked on the previous drive? What if the game was only 13-7 at the half? Would the Packers have kept Rodgers out? Would they still have won?
I’m just glad it didn’t come to that.
Even if it did, even if I kept the version of this article that I had to trash, this lesson would be unchanged: football is a game of emotion.
Once the Bears D got a spark early, they were on. Once the wind came out of the Packers sails with the Rodgers injury, they were done. Once Rodgers came back, they were unstoppable. When the Packers D smelled blood, they did not relent, even when they had to stop them on 4th twice on the same drive.
It’s a game played by humans.
It’s so easy to forget this.
It’s even easier to forget when Rogers is making plays that don’t seem human.
That throw to Geronimo Allison should silence anyone who thinks 12 needs to play in the preseason to shake off any offseason rust. It was incredible throw and an incredible catch against pretty much perfect man coverage. I keep watching the replay (@DustyEvely has a great thread with different angles here) and it just doesn’t look physically possible, never mind that it’s heaved 50 yards by a dude with a gimp leg. Allison will never be a headliner as the 4th receiving option, but the guy can play.
The touchdown by Adams was incredible individual effort by the receiver, as was the go-ahead score by Cobb. I really hope this calms down the #CutCobb nonsense that has been floating around so often.
More than anything, though, the thing that stayed with me is how this team stuck it out. Sure, the offensive display in the 4th quarter (where Rodgers had 212 yards and 3 touchdowns) was amazing, but it was the other phases that impressed me.
When the Packers went up, they kicked off to the one foot line, forcing a return. But instead of giving up a 35 yard return, they covered in a swarm and put Chicago in a hole.
Then the defense took over and got a game-winning 4th down stop… twice.
That is what has been missing. Those guys were tired, it was late, and it would have been so easy to have a mental lapse or take a bad angle and let someone slip through to get the Bears into long field goal range.
But they didn’t. They put the screws to the Bears and finished the game. Credit Pettine for making halftime adjustments and credit McCarthy for keeping his team mentally in the game. These guys will get plenty of flack all year, but today, they should be getting some high-fives.
But when the dust settles and the hangover clears up, what do we take away from this game? Here are my thoughts:
- Khalil Mack is the real deal
- Aaron Rodgers really means that much to this team – he does things no one else can do and we should all enjoy this while it lasts
- DeShone Kizer didn’t look like a major upgrade from Brett Hundley in his 14 snaps
- Trubisky is athletic, but still adjusting to the NFL – if his flashes don’t become his norm by the end of the year, the Bears may want to use their next first rounder on a new QB… oh, wait, whoops
- CM3 looked energetic and was flying around, but it was just noise – the only real impact he had was gifting the Bears another shot at a win after they failed on 4th down; I like having him on the team and think he has value, but that was not a good showing
- Pettine’s defense was good on the whole – Tex Western at AcmePackingCompany pointed out that the Bears had fewer yards per pass attempt than they did per rushing attempt; if that was by design, it worked out pretty well
- A holding play wiped it out, but that pass from Rodgers to TyMo was poetry in motion
- Justin McCray needs to bounce back, but calling plays like they did in the second half instead of how they did in the first would go a long way towards helping him (and the whole offense, actually)
- Pettine seemed to change up his calls and had a lot of different looks. It wasn’t perfect, but it came together and looked like something that can be built off of – guys weren’t winning all their matchups up front and he used different schemes to bring pressure; it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that
- This was a fitting way to start the Packer’s 100th season in the greatest rivalry in sports
Looking back at my game preview, here’s how I fared in my predictions:
Aaron Rodgers will come out on-point and throws 0 interceptions. Well, he didn’t come out on point, but he found it with plenty of time left and didn’t throw any interceptions.
Jimmy Graham will have a better Lambeau Leap than his lone preseason showing. I envisioned 12 forcing him a TD early, but nothing about this game went as expected. Jimmy G was a ghost. After one week it looks like that money would have been better spent on Jordy Nelson.
David Bakhtiari will own the edge and shows everyone why we aren’t scared of Khalil Mack. Bak had another stonewall night and was money when it mattered, but Mack sure had his way with an over-matched right side.
Kenny Clark will build a campfire and make s’mores two yards deep in the Chicago backfield. Clark played the point really well and generated a lot of push, but I expected a little more. I think he should be dominating. Granted, the Bears offense, on the whole, didn’t do much and they certainly didn’t do much against Kenny Clark.
Josh Jackson will fail to fulfill the hype that has unfairly been heaped on him all preseason. The rookie corners failed to make any splash plays, but coverage seemed good enough offscreen to not get picked apart. the challenge goes up a step next week.
Kentrell Brice will be all over the place. He certainly was. I’ve always liked this guy and feel good about him starting. He was all over the place with a game-leading 8 tackles – if he can stay healthy, he can really be a factor with his speed.
JK Scott will not falter under the bright lights, his kicks will boom and draw cheers. He didn’t falter, but he was out-punted by Pat O’Donnell, which I didn’t see coming. Still a pretty good debut.
Final Score: Packers, 23, Bears 13 Take away a defensive touchdown at the end of the half and I only missed this by a point!