CHICAGO – Aaron Rodgers missed his mark a few times at Soldier Field, but he was right on with something he said heading into the NFL’s second century.
“Foreshadowing,” the Green Bay Packers quarterback called it on the post-game podium.
With a new offence under a new head coach, Rodgers had stated in the final days of training camp that the Packers defence would have to keep the team in games until the offence started to come together.
And that’s exactly what happened in the season opener Thursday night against the Chicago Bears.
The offence never did get in full gear, but Rodgers did orchestrate a touchdown drive, which is something Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky couldn’t do.
“It was fun to watch,” Rodgers said of the Packer ‘D’ after the 10-3 victory – the second consecutive year the Packers have opened their season with a victory over the Bears. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a performance like that. Obviously lot of credit to (defensive coordinator) Mike Pettine and his staff.But to those players, I mean, just incredible effort.
“We didn’t do them a whole lot of favours with our own performance on offence but every time we needed something stopped they came up with some really big plays.”
The Bears defence still had slightly better numbers across the board. But the difference is that Trubisky made one costly mistake.
Trubisky had his team in position to at least send the game into overtime, but with two minutes left, on third down from the Packers 16-yard line, he unwisely threw a pass into the end zone for Allen Robinson II, who had drawn double coverage with a third Packer closing in.
Adrian Amos, who jumped the Bears ship for the Packers in the offseason, made the interception to effectively end the game.
“I mean, I won’t lie to you, it feels real good,” said Amos, who was drafted but the Bears and spent four seasons in Chicago. “It feels great to come back to win how we did, as a defence, held them to three points, got a takeaway.
“It’s a great start to the season.”
The only scoring was a 38-yard field goal by Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro in the first quarter, a eight yard touchdown catch by Packers tight end Jimmy Graham in the second, and a 39-yard field goal by Green Bay’s Mason Crosby to wrap it up.
Rodgers wound up completing just 18 of 30 passes for 203 yards, while Trubisky connected on 26 of 45 for 228 yards.
“Not that good,” Trubisky said when asked how he thought he played. “Definitely left a lot of plays out there. As an offence, we really couldn’t find a rhythm out there.
“It’s very frustrating, because it’s very uncharacteristic of this offence, especially the way we’ve been practicing. But I definitely feel like I let a lot of my teammates down, and the fans down, with the way I played. And I definitely felt like that we could have done better.”
Ah yes, the Chicago fans, who were so excited heading into the season. They’ve been singing the same “Super Bowl Shuffle” song the Bears performed while winning the 1985 championship.
But the fans who watched this one weren’t singing. They were booing.
“They have every right to boo,” said head coach Matt Nagy. “We get it. They deserve better, and that’s what we need to do.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers is confident the Packers offence is going to get better. But for now he’s savouring what he saw from the defence.
“That was just a dominating performance,” said Rodgers. “It gives you a lot of confidence, when you play like that on offence and win a game by a touchdown.”
SECOND AND LONG : The Packers didn’t move the ball forward a grass blade (yes, yes, it’s turf) until their third possession of the night. Boosted by the roaring fans (who were boosted by a bald Jim McMahon wearing shades and waiving a towel along with other former Bears greats) the ‘D’ was as good as can be without a turnover its first time on the field. Second year linebacker Roquan Smith (who Matt Nagy had singled out as being anxious to hit someone) proved his coach’s words true right off the bat when he held Aaron Jones to no gain on a run and no gain on a pass. Then the Packers were called for holding (they weren’t very good at it) while Ray Robertson-Harris sacked Rodgers, leaving the Packers fourth and 20 in a welcome to the NFL moment for head coach Matt LaFleur ….
The second series was a quick three and out as well. What was Rodgers thinking? “It can’t get any worse,” he said … Robertson-Harris is a little known backup on the Bears D-line, but he won’t stay that way if he keeps playing like he did on this night. An undrafted free agent, he missed the entire 2016 season with a heat-related illness and is now making up for lost time ….
Leonard Floyd and our honorary Canadian, Akeem Hicks, also sacked Rodgers in the first half … Is it a thing this season that the coaching staffs of both teams have to wear white? ….
SIDELINE TO SIDELINE : Jarrett Payton, the son of Sweetness, did play for the Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argos, but that doesn’t make him Canadian. He’s Canadian, or Canadian-like, because I bumped into him in the press box – and he apologized. A couple of times. …
Rodgers’ into-a-crowd eight-yard TD pass to Graham was even more impressive because the Bears had one too many men on the field …
Smith took a 38-yard pass interference penalty early in the second half that, in a close and low scoring game, could have proved quite costly. This one didn’t … Bears rookie running back David Montgomery was impressive with early opportunities and was the game’s leading rusher after the first half – with five carries for 18 yards. Against a Bears defence that was best in the league against the run last season, three Packers combined on six carries for seven yards in the opening 30 minutes …
The Bears feel they’ve made an immediate upgraded with Montgomery, a third round pick, over Jordan Howard, who has rushed for over 1,000 yards in two of his three seasons. The 27-yard catch Montgomery made over the middle in the second half is a big reason why.
BETWEEN THE HASHMARKS : NHL teams should follow the example of the NFL when it comes to revealing attendance numbers. For the Bears opener, 62,435 tickets were distributed while the actual attendance was 58,563 …
There was crowd overreaction to Eddy Pineiro’s first career field goal, a 38-yarder around the 11 minute mark of the first quarter. Understandable. The last time the Soldier Field watched a Bears kicker attempt a field goal, it ended the team’s season …
One of the pass Trubisky threw that should have been intercepted probably kept Packers corner econd quarter Packers corner Kevin King from sleeping Thursday night … After an offensive pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter, the Bears were first and 40. When was the last time you saw that? …
GOING DEEP : Two takeaways from a week in Chicago – if I had Khalil Mack’s upper body, I would never wear a shirt. The man is absolutely ripped. Also, Mike Ditka looks very much like he’s 79 years old and is recovering from a heat attack, which is true in both cases. Didn’t stop him from participating in ceremonies this week though …
As is customary in NFL press boxes, the media announcer reminded everyone before the game that cheering is prohibited and professional conduct is expected. Mere moments later, former NFL receiver James Jones (who does some fine work on TV) burst into the press box and let out a “eeeeeeeeeyyy!!!” that had some of the regulars jumping out of their wrinkled skin.
“Oh, I’m not allowed to do that?,” said Jones. “My bad.” …
When Rodgers completed his first big pass of the season, a 47-yarder to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, a member of the Packers staff who was standing next to me snickered, stopped himself, then burst out laughing. Almost like he was the mastermind who devised the play. That’s kind of like cheering, isn’t it?
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