After a promising first half for the Bears, Rodgers and the Packers completed a methodical dismantling of the Bears in the second half. The Packers continued their recent dominance in this rivalry with a 45-30 win on Sunday Night.
A Special First Half From the Bears
The Bears had an absurd 213 total special teams yards in the first half. Jakeem Grant, Sr. accounted for 131 of those yards, with 97 yards coming on the NFL’s first punt return touchdown on the season. Khalil Herbert also contributed 82 total kick return yards, including a 42-yard return with under a minute to play that helped the Bears add a FG to their lead before halftime.
Additionally, both sides of the ball looked good early. Justin Fields flipped the ball to Jakeem Grant who scampered down the sideline for a 46-yard touchdown. Then, after the Packers took the lead 14-10, Fields connected with Damiere Byrd over the middle for a 54-yard touchdown. On the defensive side of the ball, they could not have started better. Robert Quinn had two first-quarter sacks, and the unit as a whole looked like they could at least slow down the Packers’ offense. Green Bay’s offense did start to get going in the first half, but the Bears went into the locker room up 27-21.
Aaron Rodgers Still Owns the Bears
The second half told quite a different tale. After scoring 27 points in the first half (7 from special teams), the Bears could only muster one Cairo Santos FG in garbage time in the second half. The rest of the game was played only by the Packers.
Green Bay started the third quarter with a 9 play, 75-yard drive. Aaron Jones capped the drive off with a 3-yard touchdown run. After the extra point, the Packers regained the lead, 28-27. The Bears needed to respond with a good drive of their own. However, Fields was sacked, and he fumbled, giving the Packers the ball deep in Bears’ territory. Aaron Rodgers only needed one play, and he hit Aaron Jones for a 23-yard touchdown. Mason Crosby converted the extra point and gave the Pack a 35-27 lead.
This sequence was the turning point of the game. Rodgers was able to play with the lead the rest of the way. The Bears did not have as many opportunities on offense, and the Packers knew they were going to pass.
Justin Fields: The Good
Right away in this one football fans witnessed a rejuvenated offense under Justin Fields. In the first half, Fields threw for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns. Most notably, however, were his 40+ rushing yards. His elusiveness in the pocket was key in keeping the Bears’ drives alive when the Packers applied pressure.
You could tell that even a solid Packers defense was kept on their heels because of Fields’ ability to run. On one play, in particular, Fields was able to lure a linebacker toward him before he had crossed the line of scrimmage. He then had Jimmy Graham open past the line to gain, but unfortunately missed the throw. Even though the play wasn’t converted (more to come on this missed throw) we saw what Fields is capable of. He can extend plays with the best of them, and with more experience will come more broken plays-turned big gains for the Bears.
Fields also is a gamer. He may make too many mistakes, but he doesn’t shy away from the pressure. His future is very bright, and the Bears need him to start every game from here on out to prepare for next season.
Justin Fields: The Bad
Turnovers: Justin Fields was picked off in the first half by Packers’ CB Rasul Douglas. Douglas ran the ball back 55 yards for a score, and it was a huge blown opportunity. Before the pick, the Bears had a 10-7 lead, and this was a key, momentum-building early drive. Pick-sixes are always costly, but what was more frustrating was the play itself. Fields completely telegraphed his throw, looking only at Mooney before attempting the pass. NFL DBs will always make you pay for this sort of rookie mistake.
The biggest turnover of the game was the strip-sack on the Bears’ first possession of the third quarter. The Packers had just taken the lead, and the Bears needed to have a sustained drive. Instead, two plays in, Fields fumbled after being sacked. While the pressure getting to him is not entirely his fault, he needs to learn to sense when he’s running out of time in the pocket. I love that he looks to throw first, but he is very capable of scrambling. Even gaining only a couple of yards in that situation can be huge. Instead, the Packers get a short field and score on the very next play; Rodgers to Jones for 23 yards and an eight-point lead.
Missed throws: I mentioned earlier how Fields’ ability to extend plays gave him a chance to keep a drive alive. That part of the play was great, but he threw low to Jimmy Graham, giving him no chance to make the catch. Later, when the Bears somehow still had a minuscule chance, he overthrew Darnell Mooney, who would have had enough yards for a first down. Fields needs to improve his accuracy under pressure if he is to be a successful starting QB in the NFL.
Where Was the Run Game?
David Montgomery was held to 42 yards on 10 carries, and the Bears did not get their ground attack established. This is especially concerning given how good Montgomery looked last week. But the problem tonight was the game script.
Once the Packers had the lead, Rodgers went into his time management zone. Throughout the third quarter, Rodgers and his offense ate up tons of clock. When the Bears’ offense did get on the field, it was obvious they needed to pass to try and keep pace. Fields had a solid 74 yards on the ground, but a decent chunk of this yardage was earned during garbage time. Suffice it to say, the Bears need to run the ball to get wins.
I briefly mentioned it earlier; Justin Fields should start the rest of the season. The Bears have very little chance of making the playoffs, so they need to let him learn on the job.
Bears’ LT Jason Peters left the game with an ankle injury and did not return. I hope he doesn’t miss time, but I haven’t heard any updates yet after the game.
This Bears offense needs to throw the ball downfield to compliment the run. Jakeem Grant looked electric, and now that both Mooney and Robinson are in the lineup, there is no excuse to not take shots. Mooney and Robinson were complete non-factors tonight. I’m not sure how much of this is on Fields and how much is on the coaching staff, but they need to shake things up next week against Minnesota.
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