Packers D Stuffs Forte, Bears; Move to 3-0Posted:Sep 26th, 2011 12:22 am
A three-pronged attack carried the Packers over the rival Bears on Sunday. The Bears had no answer for Jermichael Finley, the interior linemen created wide lanes for Ryan Grant to appear reborn and the Packers' run defense was dominant for a third straight week.
13 rushing yards on 12 carries. Ladies and gentlemen, your Chicago Bears running attack! Matt Forte was irrelevant in the running game. Though he finished with 80 receiving yards, he was pretty much held in check all day long. The Packers' run defense made the Bears one-dimensional, and while Jay Cutler ended up with 300 yards, he was just 3-12 on third downs and he threw a pair of picks to safety Morgan Burnett. The Pack sacked him three times, but got none in the first half and did not dominate like it appeared they might.
Back to Finley: this kind of game has been a long time coming. He's a matchup nightmare and Bears had no answers. Seven catches for 85 yards and a career high three touchdowns. He and Greg Jennings (9-119) came up huge, converting a number of key third downs with terrific catches.I'm not crazy about Finley's YMCA-style "YOTTO" celebration (for those who don't follow him on Twitter, it was a phrase he coined last season: Year of the take over). Rodgers was his usual brilliant self, delivering a 111.4 passer rating, with three TDs and one pick (on a brilliant play by Brian Urlacher).
Meanwhile, the biggest difference between this year's team and last year's is the two-headed running attack of Grant and Finley. Until Sunday, Grant played the role of Hutch to Starks' Starsky. On this day, Grant was the man, showing a burst and pop we haven't seen since 2009. 92 yards on 17 carries kept the Bears defense honest all day. Conversely, Starks looked lost, losing a key fumble late that kept the Chicago in the game and finishing with just five yards on eleven carries.
Let's look at the ugly, besides Starks. Too many offensive penalties and the knee injury to Bryan Bulaga are a good place to start. Bulaga left early with what Mike McCarthy called a knee bruise after the game. One Green Bay reporter was told by a couple of players that it wasn't an ACL tear, but until we get the medical update on Monday we'll hold our breath. Marshall Newhouse replaced him at right tackle and seemed to hold up well. We also hope to hear that the other guys nursing minor injuries: Pickett, Williams, Woodson and Matthews came out of the game feeling okay.
And what about that punt return by the Bears, where Hester duped the Packers into thinking the ball was coming his way, while Johnny Knox raced down the sidelines. A holding penalty saved the Pack on that one.
So the Packers sit at 3-0, tied with the Lions, who were the latest to embarrass the Vikings, coming back from a 20-0 halftime deficit to win in overtime. The Vikings exposed some weaknesses in the first half (poor play by Lions offensive line and leaky secondary), but in historic fashion, couldn't close the deal.
The Packers finally return to Lambeau next Sunday for what should be the easiest game on the schedule, against the bumbling Broncos, providing a chance to finish the first quarter at 4-0 with a big prime time game in Atlanta to follow.
Check back at theheadcheese.com on Tuesday for the Tuesday morning podcast. I'll use your comments below and emails to go more in depth on the game.