CHICAGO—The 700th win in Packers history will not only be memorable because it came at the hands of the Packers’ historical rival, it might also be memorable for having saved a season.
“Big win. It’s always nice to be part of history. I feel very good about what was accomplished today,” Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said following a 38-17 over the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday.
Saved the season? Yeah, that might be an exaggeration, but what would you be feeling had the Packers lost? How does 1-3 and two games behind the Bears and the Lions sound?
Instead, the Packers are 2-2, tied with the Bears and just a game behind the Lions in the NFC North title race. How does that feel?
So what was the difference between this week’s offensive outburst and the offense that scored only seven points in Detroit last week?
“We produced. We scored points. We were very basic in our approach. The pass protection was very good. Aaron (Rodgers) was excellent throwing to the open guy. We wanted to come in here and play fast,” McCarthy said.
The Packers opened with a fast-break, no-huddle offense that erased an eight-minute touchdown drive by the Bears before Bears fans could stop smiling. The Packers’ only problem in the first half was that they were scoring too quickly, which was causing a huge time-of-possession advantage for the Bears that threatened to fatigue the Packers defense.
Rodgers was on fire from beginning to end. He completed 22 of 28 passes for 302 yards, four touchdowns and a 151.2 passer rating. The better he played, the worse his counterpart, Jay Cutler, played. Cutler started fast but melted down in the second half, throwing costly interceptions to Clay Matthews and Sam Shields that turned the game decidedly in the Packers’ favor.
McCarthy cited a big momentum swing at the end of the first half, when the Packers took the lead, 21-17, on a 23-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb with 1:03 to play, and then kept Martellus Bennett from scoring on the final play of the half. Bennett appeared to reach the ball across the goal line while attempting to catch a pass, but then bobbled the ball as he brought the ball back toward his body.
“It was a huge play,” McCarthy said.
Had Bennett scored, the Bears would’ve regained the lead.
“Our run defense wasn’t what we wanted it to be in the first half. Our defense just kept playing … focusing on the takeaways. The pass rush was starting to get there and our perimeter players were getting their hands on the ball,” McCarthy said.
Matthews was “on a snap count,” McCarthy said, due to a groin injury Matthews sustained in Detroit.
“We thought it would come down to big plays and turnover ratio,” McCarthy added.
The Packers made most of the big plays and all of the turnovers, in a game in which neither team punted. The game featured 854 yards of offense and 54 first downs, and the Packers lost time of possession by nearly 13 minutes.
Cobb and Jordy Nelson each caught two touchdown passes, and each went over 100 yards in receiving.
The Packers host NFC North rival Minnesota on Thursday night. ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - SEPT. 28