On an emotional night that was supposed to be the complete union of all things that was great about the Packers, one emotion reigned supreme at the end of the game: disgust. With the exception of one drive and the halftime ceremony, there was no heart, no desire, and no hands among the 53 Packers during the humbling 17-13 loss to the Bears.
It all starts with the execution of even the smallest plays, and the lack of precision that the Packer offense used to be known for reared its head on the first drive as an underthrown flat route to Randall Cobb set up a fourth and two from the Bears 48, but Eddie Lacy was stopped cold and the Bears took over. It was a symbol of the rest of game that followed.
The Pack ended up getting their lone touchdown the next drive on a screen pass to Lacy, but even that lacked the same laser-minded focus of Packers past. Rumbling to the end zone, Lacy almost went full Desean Jackson, releasing the ball just as he hit the goal line, a play that was reviewed and upheld. That was the brightest spot for an offense that looked stagnant and ineffective for over a month in this game. Much like every game recently, the offense looked relatively sharp for a drive or two in the first quarter, but the lack of trust between each player leads to three quarters of ineffectiveness and an urgent drive late in the game.
Meanwhile, the Bears played smart, mistake free football for almost the entire game, taking what the defense gave them and methodically moving the ball through the ground and the air. Using bubble screens and inside runs, the Bears controlled the clock and used the rainy conditions to their advantage. Scoring on a crossing route to Zach Miller and a goal line run by Jeremy Langford, the Bears scoring in the first half was enough to beat the Packers, who struggled mightily except in the final minute of each half.
In the second half, all the attention went to Rodgers, who took a hit and lost feeling in his left hand for the rest of the game, but that didn’t matter at all when he couldn’t get a consistent presence from any of his receivers. Drops from Cobb, Richard Rodgers, and especially Davante Adams handicapped the offense completely and there was nothing that Rodgers could do but keep trying. He ended up with 202 yards on 43 attempts and 22 completions, the longest of which was 32 yards late in the game to Cobb.
But despite the pitiful passing offense out there, the running game was exceptional. Lacy got off to a great start with a beautiful 29 yard run, breaking multiple tackles, but he only got 16 more carries the rest of the game for a total of 107 yards. James Starks, back to a complimentary role, ended up with 39 yards on 7 carries. The Bears did not show any way they could stop, but with a desperate situation late in the game, they abandoned the run completely and put the game on the right arm of Rodgers and the hands of the receivers.
Every possible big play after Lacy’s touchdown went against the Packers, from an offensive pass interference penalty on James Jones that moved the ball back from the 1 to a third down drop in the endzone by Jones that would’ve given the Packers the lead with 36 seconds left. In between were drops, a poor route from Adams that led to an interception, a Lacy fumble, and injuries to Bryan Bulaga and Damarious Randall.
The positives in the game were almost entirely in the first quarter and late in each half. As stated earlier, Lacy looked to be back to the guy who was expected to dominate opposing defenses. And Jeff Janis, who rarely got a glimpse offensively, had a spectacular 64 yard kickoff return that set up the Packers at the Chicago 33, but it stalled as the pass interference on Jones cause ended up forcing a 22 yard field goal from Mason Crosby, who hit both of his attempts.
Defensively, they held their own. And while the Bears were able to move the ball somewhat, they never hit on the big play and the defensive line came up with big plays whenever needed out of them. Datone Jones and Mike Neal each had some huge run stops late in the game and the corner blitz worked consistently even though it only produced one sack (from Quentin Rollins).
But I would be remiss if I didn’t end this recap with the greatest moment of the night, the official retirement of Brett Favre’s number and his emotional return to the field during a regular season game. From the numerous former teammates who were there to give him a hug and his speech, it was all beautiful and the emotions stirred. But it went into overdrive when the greatest champion in NFL history rode out on a cart and got to wave to the Lambeau crowd a final time. Seeing the smile of Bart Starr almost overrode the anger that would later dominate the social media scene. And when Bart and Brett embraced like brothers, the tears flowed and it was captured perfectly by the media all over Lambeau. We all should go to bed thinking of that moment and thinking of Bart Starr, who worked so hard to get to this game. That was perfection, a perfect moment that will stand in Lambeau lore forever.——————
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.