It looked for a half there like we were all going to look foolish. The Packers defense was holding firm
ish. Aaron Rodgers was rusty and throwing uncharacteristic interceptions. The shootout for the North was going to have be ground out. Then the second half happened. The Packers and Bears offenses traded punches in the second half until the defense finally got the stop that it needed. Aaron Rodgers and the offense had the ball at their own 13 yard line with just over 6 minutes to play and the season on the line.
The Packers then proceeded to unload what seemed like everything that they had left in a tank that by now is very low on fuel. Eddie Lacy carried the ball and caught passes on one leg. The Packers converted on 4th down twice on their way to about midfield. Aaron Rodgers missed Jordy Nelson on 3rd and 8 from the Bears 48 yard line, and with the concept of trotting out Mason Crosby for a 65 yard attempt in the cold far from anyone’s mind it became fourth and the season. Fourth and 8 became Fourth and Great. Rodgers took the snap against a “zero” blitz from Chicago, used an epic block from FB John Kuhn on Julius Peppers to roll left and fling a perfect pass to a streaking Randall Cobb for the game winning TD. With just 38 seconds left in the contest down by more than a field goal, the Bears were forced to mount a Hail Mary effort and when Sam Shields intercepted Jay Cutler, much like 2011, it was party time for Packers fans in Chicago.
As I said, this win was going to be sweet. Regardless of what happens in these playoffs, this run was special. This team was buried over and over and over again, but refused to die. The Packers really are rightful division champions, though. The only team that has a legitimate excuse for the futility required to produce an 8-7-1 division champion is Green Bay. The Aaron Rodgers injury added to the clown show that was the 2013 injury report is worse than anything that happened to any other team in the league by far. Green Bay’s ceiling, just if Rodgers doesn’t get hurt was 5-2, going to be 6-2 and would have finished 13-3, 12-4, or 11-5, which is a ceiling none of the other three teams in the North had this year. The really awesome thing, though is from this speech by Herb Brooks. When Herb tells the team that if they played the Soviets 10 times, they might win nine. Well guess what Jay, you’ve played the Packers 10 times now, and they HAVE won nine. Does that make us the USSR? Maybe. Do I care? No. Why? Because the Bears still suck.
1. The returning stars- Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb were able to connect for 2 completed passes that totaled 55 yards. I don’t think it’s too much to say that those were the two most important connections between Rodgers and Cobb in their young playing career together. I’ll never forget Rodgers rolling left and slinging that perfect spiral to Cobb streaking down the sidelines and I’ll certainly never forget Cobb’s post game quote:
“Oh my gosh, it was in the air so long, I had so many thoughts go through my head,” ‘You better not drop it, you drop it they’re going to kill you. You better catch it. Just catch the ball. Body catch it if you have to. Do whatever you have to do.’ And I was able to make the catch.”
2. Andy Mulumba- it seems that every season the Packers roll out some UDFA at the outside linebacker position that makes a positive impact for the team either teaming with Clay Matthews or helping to replace the void that the loss of Matthews leaves behind. Mulumba had a big sack of Cutler deep in Chicago’s own territory and his pursuit of Matt Forte on a screen play set up the third and long that eventually set up the final punt of the Chicago Bears’ 2013 season.
3. Sam Shields and Tramon Williams- of course Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall were able to have some success. With that said, holding that pair to 9 catches for 154 yards is pretty impressive, as both receivers have had multiple days where they outdid that themselves this season. Williams’ forced fumble on Jeffery and Sam Shield’s game ending interception were two huge turnovers in this game and ultimately this season.
VERY HONORABLE MENTION: Jordy Nelson. God Damn is he good Jordy Nelson.
1. Safety play- Morgan Burnett was responsible for the 67 yard catch that Alshon Jeffery had, I’m almost sure of it. You can like or dislike Sam Shields as much as you want but I’m almost certain he would not just turn a player of Jeffery’s ability loose on a vertical route down the sideline on 3rd down. MD Jennings had yet another nondescript performance and it continues to appear that if the Packers want to get any better on defense it’s going to have to with talent upgrades up the middle.
2. Nick Perry- what the hell was that about. Perry was benched twice in this game. Once after blowing contain on a Matt Forte run and again after looking completely foolish on a routine check down to Matt Forte that resulted in a 33 yard gain. I dont’ know if Forte, Worthy and Jones (actually it’s too early on Jones) are whiffs by Ted Thompson or being incorrectly utilized by Dom Capers, but if this defense is going to hold up in the playoffs enough for the offense to deliver a championship, the high investments of those three are going to need to pay off with Matthews unable to go.
3. Injuries- oh my God. Nevermind. I don’t think anyone got hurt in this game. In fact Coach Mac said that Eddie Lacy came out of this game better than any of the previous three. This must be the twilight zone.
Bottom Line: This was the most exciting regular season win that I can remember. I remember Favre to Bradford against the Vikings when I was much younger. I remember Favre to Jennings against Denver in 2007. I even think that the joy associated with the Rodgers “4th and great” throw to Randall Cobb is greater than that when Rodgers finally ended the Favre era in Minnesota. This team isn’t as good as the 2010 squad, which is something I’ve freely admitted. But here’s the thing: just give me #12 and a spot in the tournament. You can’t ask for much more than that.