GREEN BAY – Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams talked all week about the need for the Packers’ veteran receivers to step up and assist Brett Hundley with big plays.
Those moments came early and often Sunday at Soldier Field.
Beginning with Cobb’s 38-yard run-and-catch on the first series of the game and ending with Adams’ 42-yard grab along the sideline, Hundley took full advantage of his perimeter targets in steering Green Bay to a much-needed 23-16 win over the Chicago Bears.
Adams was responsible for two of the game’s biggest plays. Before he pulled in the remarkable one-handed catch to convert on third-and-10 late, Adams looked in a perfect 19-yard touchdown pass from Hundley with 5 minutes, 37 seconds left.
Both plays were critical, as the touchdown pass helped extend the Packers’ lead to two scores, while the lengthy sideline reception helped Green Bay shut the door on any hopes of a Chicago comeback.
“You guys don't even understand the effect that it has on the rest of the group,” said Adams, who finished with five catches for a game-high 90 yards. “A play like that, I think about that in the fourth quarter when I say Cobb made a play and he sparked us. I needed to do the same thing to make sure we sew up this game. You've just got to make sure that everybody is holding themselves accountable and doing what they've got to do to make a play.”
Cobb told reporters earlier in the week it was on him and the rest of the receivers to break more tackles and extend plays. He did precisely that three plays into the game, catching a short pass from Hundley and making the first would-be tackler miss.
It not only converted the third-and-5, but also brought the ball to midfield after Green Bay started the series at its own 8. The 11-play, 70-yard drive ultimately ended in a Mason Crosby 40-yard field goal to get the Packers on the board.
“It got us out of a hole to begin with,” Nelson said. “When you achieve an explosive gain in a drive, it usually results in points, which it did. We’ve started out extremely fast the last couple games. Today, we were a little more consistent.”
Nelson finished with three catches for 20 yards, but he drew a critical 29-yard pass interference penalty on Chicago cornerback Prince Amukamara on Green Bay’s first drive of the second quarter.
Two plays later, running back Ty Montgomery broke a 37-yard touchdown run to put the Packers ahead 10-3. Shortly thereafter, Montgomery left with a rib injury and didn’t return.
Already without Aaron Jones (knee), Green Bay leaned on rookie running back Jamaal Williams and its passing game to put the Bears away in the second half.
The offense produced two more field goals from 24 and 50 yards before Hundley led perhaps the most important series he has led since relieving an injured Aaron Rodgers at quarterback last month in Minnesota.
Chicago had just cut Green Bay’s lead to 16-13 with 10:39 remaining after Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky found Josh Bellamy on a 46-yard touchdown pass.
Needing an answer, Hundley hit Adams in the middle of the field for 18 yards to start the eventual eight-play, 75-yard drive. After scrambling for 17 yards on third-and-2 from Chicago’s 37, Hundley could’ve easily tucked it again when he escaped the pocket two plays later.
Instead, he kept his eyes downfield and found a hole to sneak a pass to Adams in the corner of the Bears’ end zone for the 19-yard touchdown.
It’s that kind of next-level chemistry the Packers were searching for in Hundley’s first two starts and something that came out organically throughout the course of the game.
“It's an elite-level play,” Adams said. “Anybody can take off and run. You can put a running back back there and play quarterback if you want him to just run it all the time. I don't think running the ball would have gotten him a score. But throwing a great ball back-shoulder like that to an open guy is (great). I wasn't wide open. It was a good throw and it actually made me a little bit more open the way he threw it. That’s next-level play. He's got to continue to make those.”
The Packers then capped off the win with Adams’ lengthy catch along the sidelines. While the drive didn’t result in points – there was a bobbled snap on a field-goal try – it did eat up the clock and the remainder of the Bears’ timeouts.
With a meeting with Baltimore set for next Sunday at Lambeau Field, Hundley and his receivers took another step towards building the chemistry and connection the offense is looking for.
“He’s getting back to where he feels comfortable and has that confidence to let it go. It’s great to see,” Nelson said. “I think he’s done a great job in the three weeks of staying calm, not putting a lot of pressure on him and just going out there and playing. But it was a big-time throw and big-time catch at a crucial moment.”
Complete game coverage: