GREEN BAY – The injuries haven’t stopped, but they didn’t slow down the Packers much on Thursday night.
Playing four guards and a center on the offensive line and losing their top two running backs, the Packers still rolled to a 35-14 victory over the Bears to improve to 3-1 at the season’s quarter pole.
“Excellent win for our football team tonight,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said as the Packers took the lead in the NFL's oldest rivalry for the first time since 1933. “Very proud of our football team.”
The Packers have been dealing with injuries on the offensive line all season, but Thursday night’s lineup was as makeshift as it gets.
Left guard Lane Taylor slid out to left tackle, a position he’s never played, in place of David Bakhtiari, while Lucas Patrick took Taylor’s spot at guard and made his first NFL start. Justin McCray, also an interior lineman by trade, made yet another start at right tackle for Bryan Bulaga.
So all the Packers did was march 75 yards in 10 plays on the game’s opening drive for a touchdown, and they never looked back.
“I can’t say enough about our offensive line,” McCarthy said. “Those guys set the tempo on the first drive for us.”
McCarthy said the rationale behind moving Taylor was to have as much experience up front as possible, which is saying something about the current depth situation given it was Patrick’s pro debut.
The Packers came out and ran Ty Montgomery on five of their first six plays, and Green Bay seemed to own the line of scrimmage the rest of the night.
“That’s what Mike wanted to do. He wanted to get those guys to set their pads early, get some downhill runs,” said Rodgers, who was very complimentary of the line and called the two sacks he absorbed both coverage sacks. “Ty did a good job sticking it in there. It was a really good opening drive for us.”
Montgomery left the game with what was announced as a chest injury, though, and not long after rookie back Jamaal Williams (knee) also exited.
After a roughly 45-minute lightning delay between the first and second quarters, the rushing duties were turned over to rookie fifth-round pick Aaron Jones, who responded with 13 carries for 49 yards and a TD.
The defense was healthier, though still without Mike Daniels and Davon House, but established the tone early as well.
Clay Matthews set the franchise’s all-time sack record with a sack-fumble of Bears QB Mike Glennon on Chicago’s first snap. Teammate Jake Ryan recovered at the Bears’ 3-yard line, and the Packers quickly scored again on a 2-yard TD pass to Cobb.
The Packers had 14 points, and the Bears had run one play.
It was the first of four turnovers for the defense, as Glennon had two bad overthrows intercepted by safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Kentrell Brice. He also lost a fumble when an unexpected shotgun snap hit him in the leg.
“Sometimes they come in bunches, and they came in bunches tonight,” McCarthy said of the takeaways, as Green Bay’s defense had just one through the first three games.
The Packers converted the four turnovers into 21 points. Rodgers finished with four TD passes – two to Jordy Nelson (four catches, 75 yards) and one each to Randall Cobb and Davante Adams – despite compiling only 179 passing yards. His 128.0 passer rating was nearly double Glennon’s 67.5.
“I thought Aaron was flawless tonight,” McCarthy said, reiterating that the remade offensive line didn’t hinder him calling plays. “There’s times you have to play close to the vest, but that wasn’t the case tonight. Those guys kept me in a very healthy call sheet. We were able to stay aggressive, especially in the red zone.”
The biggest downer was losing Adams to a wicked hit after a short reception in the third quarter. Adams took a helmet-to-helmet shot from linebacker Danny Trevathan and was knocked out, eventually getting carried off the field on a stretcher.
All initial reports were positive, though, as Adams went to a local hospital for further evaluation of his head and neck.
The Packers now get a brief respite before their Week 5 trip to Dallas, and they need it to get as healthy as possible.
They’ve proven the last five days they can weather an onslaught of injuries to post two home victories, but healing time is needed by all.
“They’ll take the weekend, all those guys,” McCarthy said. “They need to catch their breath.”
Complete game coverage: