Last nights NFC north match up saw the Chicago Bears fall 23-10 at Lambeau Field to the Green Bay Packers, leaving both teams 1-1 two games into the season. Here’s what I took away from the game, and what it means for both teams going forward.
-The biggest play of the game was a fake field goal trick play which resulted in Green Bay’s reserve tight end Tom Crabtree rumbling into the end zone for a 27 yard touchdown. The score was just 3-0 at the time following a tight first quarter, where both team’s defenses came out firing but the Packers were able to bust the game open with a brave call from coach Mike McCarthy and never looked back.
-Matt Forte suffered a sprained ankle during the third quarter, and if the injury proves to keep him out for any length of time this loss becomes much worse for the Bears. Although they have Michael Bush, a very capable player, in reserve it’ll be a crushing blow to Lovie Smith if he loses his premier offensive player.
-Forte’s loss would be even more poignant if Jay Cutler continues to play like he did yesterday, and not in week one against the Colts. Cutler was awful and threw four interceptions against what is generally considered a below average Packers defense, which doesn’t bode well going forward. Cutlers body language was equally poor and he was seen chewing out offensive lineman on the sidelines on multiple occasions. Cutler has an accomplished career to date, but it’s hard to imagine Rodgers, Tom Brady of Peyton Manning behaving in a similar manner and this attitude problem could hinder Cutler ever reaching the level of an elite NFL quarterback.
-Speaking of Rodgers, the All-Pro QB fared well despite being heavily pressured at times, particularly by Julius Peppers. Rodgers did get away with a couple of bad decisions, and was lucky to see an errant throw slip through linebacker Lance Briggs’ outstretched fingers in the first half. Nonetheless, Rodgers got the job done despite struggling compared to his often lofty standards.
-Clay Matthews was a monster, registering four sacks and also making countless plays in the running game. Chicago didn’t do a good job of containing Matthews, and at times let him rush the QB in one on one situations which is a huge no-no. Cutler was sacked six times in total, and wasn’t afforded nearly enough time to attack a suspect Pack secondary.
-Brandon Marshall was unable to haul in a pass in the first half and finished the game with just two receptions for 24 yards. Marshall did drop a certain touchdown in the third quarter, however, when he let a perfectly thrown pass hit the turf. At the time the score was just 13-0 and the deficit would have been more than halved. Unfortunately for the Bears it wasn’t to be, and they had to settle for a field goal.
My final thoughts on the game were that whilst Green Bay did manage to win the game it must be troubling for McCarthy and Rodgers that so far the offense hasn’t clicked, although when you take into consideration the calibre of the defenses they have faced they could be excused. The Packers made a conscious attempt to run the football more than usual and maybe that hints at a more balanced offensive gameplan this season. The Bears on the other hand will see this game as a missed opportunity thanks to some sloppy play in crucial situations. Allowing a fake field goal throw to score a touchdown is unforgivable, and the four interceptions from Cutler were also uncharacteristic for a team that prides itself on playing fundamentally sound football. Each team will consider their seasons hit and miss to this point and will be hoping Detroit slip up against the 49ers in San Francisco on Sunday night to avoid falling a game back in the division.
I’ll be back with a preview for all the other NFL games this weekend before Sunday afternoon, where I can hopefully build on my 9-7 predictions record so far and stay above .500.