After managing just six points in another pedestrian first half, the Green Bay Packers’ offense caught fire late in the game to pull away from the Chicago Bears 26-10 and improve to 4-2.
Without Eddie Lacy and James Starks, the Packers relied on a short but efficient passing game to control the flow of the game and dominate time of possession. Aaron Rodgers threw for a season-high 326 yards, his first 300-yard game in almost a year, and three touchdowns on a single-game franchise record 39 completions.
Despite a lackluster first half and without hitting many big plays—the only play over 25 yards was a 30-yard Ty Montgomery rush—the offense started looking like the well-oiled machine it was hyped to be before the season.
The unit finally clicked late in the game, even though the second half got off to rough start for the Green Bay offense. Rodgers was sacked just three plays into the third quarter, resulting in a fumble that the Bears recovered in the end zone for a 10-6 Chicago lead. Things were not looking too hot for the struggling Packers’ offense.
But it was all Green Bay after that. The home team put together three straight impressive scoring drives, all capped off by touchdown passes from Rodgers, to build a 26-10 lead that would stand for the rest of the game.
Those three drives represent what the Packers’ offense hopes it can do for the remainder of the season. Combined, they took 34 plays, lasted over 18 and a half minutes, and compiled 247 yards.
Two of the drives ended with touchdown receptions by Davante Adams, who continued his impressive season with a team-high 13 catches and 132 yards. Randall Cobb had the other touchdown grab, and racked up 11 receptions for 95 yards of his own.
The high volume passing attack came due to having a severely battered backfield. Ty Montgomery led the way with 60 yards on nine carries, and added 10 catches and 66 yards playing mostly out of the backfield. The Packers became just the second team since 1970 to have three separate receivers with 10 catches.
The Packers’ defense was equally impressive, limiting the Bears’ offense to just three points. The run defense rebounded from its gashing by the Cowboys to limit Chicago to just 3.8 yards per carry. Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer, who left with a broken arm in the second quarter, combined to complete 10/26 passes for just 120 yards.
When the Bears tried to mount a comeback down by 16, the Green Bay defense quickly put an end to it. Blake Martinez and Nick Perry picked off Barkley on Chicago’s last two possessions to secure a Packer victory. Perry also recorded the team’s only sack, bringing his total to 4.5 on the season. The beat up secondary, missing its top three corners, limited the explosive Alshon Jeffery to just 33 yards and did not let a receiver total more than 40.
Surprisingly, one of the biggest issues in the game was normally-effective kicker Mason Crosby, who missed a PAT and had a field goal blocked, his first two misses of the year.
It took giving up a defensive touchdown to wake up the Packers, but once they got going they couldn’t be stopped. Green Bay had a whopping 32 first downs—including converting 9/16 third downs—en route to a 39:36-20:24 advantage in time of possession.
The timing looked much better all around, receivers made plays, and a variety of packages gave Green Bay some different, more effective offensive looks. Hopefully for the Packers, the victory will serve as a springboard to a strong second half of the season. Next up for Green Bay is a trip to Atlanta to take on the 4-2 Falcons.——————
Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .