Packers XLV

Defense Leads Packers Into Playoffs

Posted January 3rd, 2011 @ 05:01am

You've got to hand it to Lovie Smith: he's true to his word. On the day he was hired as Bears coach he said his number one priority was to beat the Packers. On a day when his team had nothing to gain, except to keep his team's greatest rival from reaching the playoffs, Lovie kept all his guys out there and went all out for 60 minutes.

But the Packers defense made more plays than Lovie's and as a result the Packers will return to the post season, in Philadelphia next Sunday. This was an ugly game from the start. As smooth as the offense ran last week against the Giants, the sledding was much tougher this week against a tough Bears defense.

A fumble by Donald Driver ended an early promising drive and the Bears had Aaron Rodgers on the run and kept the Packers from running the ball effectively all afternoon. Meanwhile, the Bears offense had similar problems. After two long runs by Matt Forte late in the opening quarter, the Pack's defense made corrections and kept him in check the rest of the way. Mike Martz got a little pass happy in the second half, playing into the Packers' hands.

In the third quarter, a quarter the Pack has dominated all season, things got a little dicey, when Peanut Tillman picked off a pass and the Bears were in the red zone with a 3-0 lead. But Jay Cutler threw a pick in the end zone by Charlie Peprah and the Pack had the ball back.

They took it down the field on a long pass to Greg Jennings, but some very odd play calling from first and goal at the one resulted in going backwards a few yards and Green Bay settled for a chip shot field goal. There were no such problems the next time the Pack found themselves with first and goal at the one. Play action on second down resulted in an easy TD pass to Donald Lee.

With a 10-3 lead, the defense took over, sacking Cutler a couple more times, bringing the total in the game to six. Leading the charge was unheralded Erik Walden, a midseason pickup and fifth on the depth chart at OLB. 11 tackles, 10 of them solo. Two sacks and great in coverage, rendering tight end Greg Olsen all but invisible. And then Nick Collins delivered "the dagger" with a pick in the final seconds to end it. Just a great performance by the defense, playing without four opening day starters. Dom Capers dialed up another great gameplan, keeping Cutler off balance and frustrating the Bears all afternoon. And he did it with a bunch of guys who were not on the depth chart radar in September.

So despite the six close losses, despite the 15 or 16 guys on injured reserve, the Pack has punched its ticket to the playoffs and will play the final game of wildcard weekend, next Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia. The Eagles are 2-0 all-time against the Pack in the post-season, most recently the "4th and 26 game" a number of years back.

There's lots to dissect and consider as we look at this matchup, but for now we'll toast the Pack--one of just three NFC teams to return to the playoffs. True, no sixth seed has ever reached the Super Bowl out of the NFC. But with a defense playing as well as anyone's and a QB like Rodgers, the Pack is ready to take a shot at making a little history.

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Comments (8):

Ha! Nice pick Man; Love the title too. I think the Bears have had a Good season and they are well maneatiind with the talent and coaching. However, the Packers have been surging up to this point for a few seasons now. They seem more primed and ready. Seeing a piece on ESPN reminded me that the Packers are sorta like the 2007 Giants. Also, Lovie deserves to come back next year but we'll see if the Bears get soft in the middle of his new deal he should get like the last deal he got. Packers 28 Bears 17

on August 1st, 2012 at 05:32am

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on August 3rd, 2012 at 04:08am

This was an old fashioned Bears-Packers defensive struggle as I thought it would be given the rivalry and Lovee's no love for the Pack. Again the two most important stats were telling. Turnover ratio was a wash at two apiece leading to no points. The Packs 3rd down efficiency on offense was a horrible 2 for 11. The defense was suberb holding the Bears to only 4 for 16.. counting the one stop of the Bears on 4th down. It was a super effort by the team on defense with special nods to Erik Walden....our 5th guy at outside linebacker this season....all he did was lead the team with 11 tackles of which 10 were solo and 2 sacks. Also... our punter Tim Masthay was superb with four punts inside the 20 including two inside the 3 yard line making our nemisis Devon Hestor a non factor. If we are to be a factor in the playoffs we will need help from our lesser known guys like this to suceed. Again...MM has some questionable play calling on the first and goal and if we had lost this game that would have been crucial. With 15 players.....and a lot of them key players on injured reserve credit for this team is well deserved. We are in the Big Dance and we will need our best dancing slippers to contain Michael Vick and Philly. GO PACK GO !!

on January 3rd, 2011 at 07:53am

Dave, What a great first game for your wife to experience. Hope she found the fire in GB. All I want to know if how do we keep finding these players like Walden and how can we have them so prepared in such a short period of time? This nail-biter really was a a true black and blue fight. I have gained new respect for the bares O and D line. For the most part they stopped our run and were able to run on us. It won't be an easy game in Chi-town. Rogers was great and if we put a little more stick-um on the receivers gloves the score would have been more like my prediction of 31-17 Pack. OK, more like 31-3. As far as Vick goes, if the Vikes can contain him the Pack should game plan him for a 10 yds rushing game. Even though yesterday's game was a little closer than I would have liked, it showed me that these guys aren't going to quit. Go Pack to Dallas.

on January 3rd, 2011 at 10:27am

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on January 3rd, 2012 at 03:33pm

Knowing that if the Bears did score in the last couple of minutes, you can bet the farm that Lovie would have went for two to end the game right then and there - one way or the other. I'm thinking the defense knew this and absolutely refused to buckle.

on January 4th, 2011 at 05:20pm

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