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Packers vs. Bears: The Aftermath

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Packers vs. Bears: The Aftermath

The Green Bay Packers clinched the NFC North with a victory over the Chicago Bears 21-13.

The Big Play

Opposing defenses have stymied the Packers’ big play ability all season long by playing with a two-deep safety look known as “Cover 2”. Despite facing the Bears, who play the Cover 2 defense more often and better than most, the Packers’ offense found success on a number of long pass plays that this defense was designed to prevent.

On a single series midway through the second quarter alone, Aaron Rodgers connected with three different receivers for passing plays of 19 yards or more. The drive culminated with James Jones getting a step on his defender and hauling in a 29-yard touchdown pass for his first of three scores on the day.

Rodgers also found success against the usually stingy Bears defense for passes of 27, 31 and 14 yards in the second half. The Packers 278 passing and 113 rushing yards were enough for Rodgers and company to slay the Bears for the eighth time in their last ten meetings.

Turnovers

Each team had turnovers in the contest. Chicago’s Jay Cutler threw an interception to rookie Casey Hayward late in the first half for Chicago’s sole turnover while Green Bay had two fumbles in the second half.

The Packers cashed in Hayward’s interception for a touchdown just before the first half ended, but the Bears were only able to convert two fumbles into field goals.

The Packers lost the turnover battle, but Green Bay’s stout defense helped even out the point differential.

Credit the Packers' defense. Typically turnovers spell defeat, but when a team is able to hold an opponent to 0-for-9 on third-down and 0-for-1 on fourth-down, mistakes can be overcome.

The Receiving Corps

Greg Jennings continued to reacquaint himself with the offense and Jermichael Finley put together one of his best outings of the season, but the day belonged to Randall Cobb and James Jones.

Randall Cobb finished the day with six receptions for a game-high 115 receiving yards, but more importantly, he regularly created separation from the Bears' defenders. The second year receiver converted third-downs, and even a fourth-down, into first-downs on each of the three Packers' touchdown drives.

James Jones only hauled in five passes for 60 yards, but three of his grabs went for touchdowns. Jones leads the NFL with 12 touchdowns on the year and continues to outperform the three-year $9.4 million dollar contract he signed in the offseason.

While each member of the receiving group helped stretch the defense and open up routes in the passing game, Rodgers’ laser-like precision made the offense go. He missed an occasional throw, but for most of the day, he put on a quarterbacking clinic.

Special Teams

Kicker Mason Crosby’s struggles continued as he missed two more field goals on Sunday. Missing his first badly to the right and hitting the crossbar on his second attempt, any semblance of confidence the kicker once had is nowhere to be found.

Despite only connecting on 17-of-29 field goal attempts this year, head coach Mike McCarthy reiterated in his post-game press conference that Mason Crosby will remain the Packers kicker.

Crosby’s kicking wasn’t the only special teams gaffe. With the Packers leading 21-10 and less than eight minutes to play in the game, the Packers punt return team’s trickery went badly wrong.

Punt returner Randall Cobb fielded a punt cleanly at his own 23-yard line before attempting to throw the ball back to first year receiver Jeremy Ross. Ross, who has not touched the football all season, was unable to haul in Cobb’s lateral and Chicago recovered the fumble at the Green Bay 16-yard line.

Between the horrible timing and awful execution, the play will go down as one of Mike McCarthy’s worst of his entire coaching tenure.

For as bad as most of the special teams were, the opposite was true for punter Tim Masthay. In addition to his great punts all afternoon, especially his final boot that pinned the Bears on their own 3-yard line, Masthay added a tackle in the game against Devin Hester, one of the game’s best and most dynamic returners.

Up Next

The newly crowned NFC North Champions return to Green Bay to face the Tennessee Titans next Sunday. The Packers have two games left and remain in the hunt for the number two seed and the important bye week to rest players before starting postseason football.

 

 

Max Ginsberg is a regular contributor at CheeseheadTV and is clearly dedicated to the Packers as evidenced by his absence from his in-laws' annual holiday get-together in order to witness the rivalry that is known as Packers-Bears. When he is not endlessly chasing around his active toddler, he can found relaxing on his couch watching football, reading tweets @MaxGinsberg or checking his email at maxginsberg[at]yahoo.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (12) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Turophile's picture

The Packers have seen a lot of cover 2 recently and they are learning how to defeat it. Even better, when the Bears did switch away from cover 2 they tended to get burned badly. Always good to make the opposition more one-dimensional

When you put together a speedster like Cobb in the slot with a QB as accurate as Rodgers, you don't have to have a TE to attack the deep middle of the field, Rodgers to Cobb there has been very productive for the Packers recently.

Nice to see slant passes make a reappearance as well. Add that to a little more run game and the Packers are starting to look less uncomfortable facing cover 2. Now if only we can ditch the runs that are handed off from a QB in the shotgun.....

Mike's picture

Agree - MM has finally started to call games much smarter when facing teams that don't want to get out of a cover 2 look. I think the use of extra linemen proves that point. I was also glad to see more slants, but the thing is, you can't throw slants every time against a true cover 2 since the LB will be dropping into the zone under the slant. Hopefully, the improved run game will continue to force teams out of their cover 2 shell!

I will argue that the shotgun runs are an important part of this offense. However, against teams with stout front four, like Chicago and NY, MM must call more I-formation or fullhouse run plays to give our line the extra juice it needs to push those linemen out of position. But, in the end, the commitment to the run is refreshing.

It'll be interesting to see what happens this week on offense, as Tennessee struggles against the run and pass (ranked 25th or lower in both!)

Beep's picture

Masthay's tackle of Hester was nasty too. He put his shoulder down and popped Hester pretty good.

Brooklyn81's picture

Come on McCarthy! At least bring in some competition at kicker. Ted please do something about this

MarkinMadison's picture

I don't want to sound like a side of beef, but this was a pretty thin Bears secondary, on a generally aging and depleted defense. The Packers have to figure out what they will do about the 49ers on the road, and are even faced with the possibility of seeing the Giants at home again in the play-offs. Are they good enough to deal with a dominant front four? What happens on third and long?

Derek's picture

Crosby has to go. It sucked watching Olindo Mare make kicks for CHI when we could've had him weeks ago. Crosby is going to cost us a playoff game and then Ted and MM will get hammered by fans, media, everyone with a brain who can see he is done.

PacMan's picture

Give Rodgers time to throw those middle distance passes like yesterday and some sort of running game and that will win games.

Packers need to build on this win during the next two games and get clicking on all cylinders for the playoffs. Atl, Den, SF (Hou?) are hungry for that ring. Last year, Packers were flat in their playoff loss to the Giants. Was it coaching or just less will power? Maybe this win kicks it up a bit, getting healthier. If Crosby made those kicks, we would have had all the MO going forward.

Just impossible to believe MM and TT will stick with Crosby now. You hate to see that happen but he cannot say he wasn't given every chance.

MarkinMadison's picture

Philbin lost his son just days before the game last year. I went to the game and a pre-game autograph session with Kuhn and Bulaga the night before the game. I think they were just emotionally drained. They said all the right things, but it all rang a little hollow. I'm much more concerned with how they looked this year against teams with dominant front fours than I am with how they looked against the Giants last January. There are at least two OGs, if not three, who will come into the 2013 draft with 1st round grades. TT needs to snag one of them.

Smith's picture

Slants!! We finally saw slants!! Gotta hit them underneath if you want to bring the safeties down. Hopefully they'll continue to attack the cover 2 this way. It helps when Finley is getting open as well. We need him.

Packattack88's picture

I think you misunderstand something, the cover-2 saftey shell hasn't been hurting the Packers defense, it's that teams have left seven in coverage and rushed four. When teams do this, and your team doesn't have the blocking to stop it, the middle of the field, and it's associated pass lanes, are clogged with linebackers, meaning a slant won't work. The way you defeat this is to run effectively, causing the linebackers to have to cover run, opening the slant, which is what the Packers did this Sunday. This, in turn, will force the opposing defense to cheat a safety up, which will eliminate the "cover-2" and open up the more vertical elements of the route tree. In other words, the key wasn't the slant, it was effective running.

marcopo's picture

Hello! Correcto mongo. There's nothing new about cover two, and there are many ways to defeat it, which Rodgers has many, many times in the past. I can't help but think McCarthy is playing a gambit. Strange. Very strange.

denniseckersly's picture

it took ages for this staff to give up on DERRICK FROST. Mason Crosby isn't going anywhere.

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