CHICAGO – The Packers certainly needed this.
Green Bay’s three-game losing streak is over following a 23-16 victory over the Bears at a rainy Soldier Field on Sunday.
Quarterback Brett Hundley played his best game to date in his third NFL start, putting up a triple-digit passer rating for the first time, and Green Bay’s defense allowed just one touchdown as the Packers improved to 5-4.
“It definitely feels good to win,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s been a couple weeks.”
Four to be exact, with the bye week thrown in, but Green Bay remained two games behind NFC North-leading Minnesota, who improved to 7-2 with a win at Washington. Detroit also won and is tied with the Packers for second place at 5-4.
This game wasn’t as much about the standings, though, as simply getting back on the right track. Hundley’s development continued, the running game chipped in a huge assist, and the defense caught a big break as well.
The Packers lost two running backs, Aaron Jones (knee) and Ty Montgomery (ribs), to injuries, turning the ground game over to Jamaal Williams.
The rookie fourth-round pick out of BYU responded with 20 carries for 67 yards, all in the second half, grinding out some difficult yards on three scoring drives.
“Jamaal ran hard, ran physical,” McCarthy said. “Had some overloaded box runs. He had to make hard yards today, and he did a heck of a job with it to keep the sticks moving. I really like the way he played.”
With the help of Montgomery’s 37-yard touchdown run in the first half, the Packers racked up 160 yards on the ground overall and were particularly effective in the fourth quarter, which is when Hundley shined the most as well.
Playing on a tight hamstring, Hundley scrambled for a pivotal first down, found Davante Adams two plays later on an impressive back-shoulder throw for a 19-yard touchdown, and then hit Adams over the top for 42 yards on a crucial third-and-10 with just over two minutes left and the Packers protecting a seven-point lead.
“They were squatting on Davante throughout the game,” McCarthy said of the gutsy deep shot with the game on the line. “I would have liked to have gone to it a little earlier, but we obviously got it when we needed it.”
Hundley finished 18-of-25 for 212 yards and a score for a 110.8 passer rating, and Adams had five catches for 90 yards. The Packers couldn’t turn the final big play into the clinching points, though, as holder Justin Vogel bobbled the snap on the ensuing field goal try.
Crosby – who was good from 50 yards out earlier in the fourth for his third make in the wet conditions – missed wide right from 35 yards with 1:03 left. The Bears still had life.
Green Bay’s defense closed it out, though, capping a solid day that included holding Chicago running back Jordan Howard to just 54 yards on 15 carries. The Packers totaled five tackles for loss against Howard, all in the first half, and only let two significant runs leak out.
That turned the game over to Chicago’s rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky, who threw for 297 yards and was not intercepted, posting a 97.0 rating. But the Packers sacked him five times, led by Nick Perry’s three, and Trubisky’s only back-breaking play was a 46-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Bellamy early in the fourth quarter.
That got Chicago within 16-13 with 10:39 left, but the Packers responded with the Adams TD on the next drive, and the Bears could only answer with a field goal on their final two possessions.
“When we hold them to this point total, we should win the game,” McCarthy said.
Green Bay did benefit from some good fortune on defense in the second quarter. On third-and-13 from the Green Bay 25, Trubisky threw a screen to running back Bennie Cunningham, and as he got near the goal line he tried to dive for the pylon.
He was ruled down, and the Bears challenged the play, thinking he had scored to tie the game at 10. As it turned out, Cunningham had lost his grip of the ball while reaching out, and with the uncontrolled ball hitting the pylon, the play was ruled a fumble and a touchback, with possession going back to the Packers.
But maybe it was about time the Packers caught a break, given how the last month had gone. The injuries still haven’t stopped, as rookie cornerback Kevin King (shoulder) got dinged up late in addition to the running backs earlier.
Hundley said his hamstring would be fine, but it’ll certainly feel better nursing it over the next week with a victory in hand.
“Anytime you win division game it’s important, anytime you beat the Bears it’s important, and anytime you can win at Soldier Field,” McCarthy said, “that’s a chunk of confidence you can take with you.”
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