Rodgers Relaxes and Torches BearsPosted:Sep 29th, 2014 3:14 am
So here was my Packer game experience: I served as a pallbearer at a funeral of one of my dad's oldest friends on Sunday. The funeral started at two. I listened to the agonizing final play of the first half, while sitting in my car before the funeral started. No touchdown for the Bears, the half was over and the Pack led 21-17 in a half where no one could stop anyone.
I got back in my car at about 2:40 and turned on the radio, with my hand over the display. Satellite radio subscribers know that the score of the game is displayed on the broadcast, so I slowly uncovered the screen, seeing the Packers score first: 38. Sweet...then I let go to see the Bears score: 17. What? 0 points in the second half? How on earth could that be?
When I got home and watched, I saw that while the defense was continuing to struggle, it was a pair of interceptions that turned the game in the Pack's favor. Thank you, Jay. Actually, neither was really his fault. Tramon Williams made a great read to knock the ball in the air, setting up Clay Matthews like a volleyball setter. Then Brandon Marshall ran the wrong route, allowing Sam Shields to swipe one and take it 40 yards the other way. Those two picks gave Aaron Rodgers a short field and on this day, he was not to be denied.
What more is there to say about Rodgers? He passed the 25,000 yards passing mark in his 98th game, the fourth quickest to do so (behind Marino, Manning and Warner). After putting his neck on line with his "five letters for everyone out there in Packerland: R-E-L-A-X," line, he backed it up with a near perfect game.
After sitting and stewing while the Bears moved slowly and methodically down the field with an 8 1/2 minute touchdown drive, Rodgers answered almost instantly, with an 80 yard drive, all through the air, until Lacy was handed the ball at the two for the score. How nice it was to see the Rodgers-Rodgers era arrive with two connections, including a huge 46 yarder.
Three series for the Pack in the first half and three touchdowns. The big plays were back, the rhythm was back, the no huddle was clicking and the Bears defense offered little to no resistance. The Packers attacked rookie Kyle Fuller, who was faked out of his jock by Randall Cobb on a big gainer in the fourth quarter. As for Cobb, he had a huge day, hopefully just the beginning for him this season. He and Nelson were unstoppable on this day.
It was clear Mike McCarthy was going to let Aaron Rodgers win this one, passing 17 times in the first half to just six rushes. At one point the Pack had scored 38 points and run just 44 plays. It doesn't get much more efficient than that.
The flip side wasn't so pretty. This was just the second game in NFL history with no punts. The Pack's defense, while opportunistic when it mattered, was abysmal against the run, allowing 235 yards on the ground. You knew the Bears would try to get Matt Forte untracked and the Pack seemed unprepared to deal with him. After looking better against the Jets and Lions, they took a serious step back on this day.
But this was a day to celebrate Aaron Rodgers and the belated arrival of the explosive Packers offense. It arrived on a day when the Packers joined the Bears as the only teams to reach 700 wins. And it happened at the Pack's home away from home, Soldier Field, where the Pack has now won five straight. And Jay Cutler still has the same number of wins against Green Bay in his career as Teddy Bridgewater has wins in his career: one.
Teddy and the Vikes are up next on Thursday night, as the team finally returns home. If Sunday was any indication, the three time division champs appear poised to reclaim their place in the North.
Aaron told us to relax. And then he responded. As usual.