As Ugly As It Gets
Consider three numbers from the Packers-Bears Monday night game: 276, 185, 152. No that's not winning lottery numbers, well I don't know, maybe it is winning numbers, but in this game it represents Chicago's total offensive yards, return yards and Green Bay's penalty yards.
So you could say the Packers didn't play poorly on defense. But you'd be overlooking three elements: those darn penalties, a lack of pass rush in the second half and the inability to take the ball away in the final three quarters. After three games I'm really not sure if Chicago's offense is the real deal or any kind of deal. Again Chicago couldn't punch it in from the one yard line, a problem that nearly cost them in Week One. Matt Forte had no success running the ball. However, when given opportunities the Bears took advantage. It really wasn't all on the defense but making a key stop, forcing a crucial turnover, delivering a Claymaker at the right time, it didn't happen when it counted.
In the first two weeks the Packers faced plenty of speed but the likes of DeSean Jackson and C.J. Spiller were contained. There was no such containment against Chicago. Johnny Knox burned through the Packers secondary with 94 yards on just four catches. Devin Hester set up one touchdown with a nifty punt return then scored on another return. Even Jay Cutler gained 37 yards by snaking through the Packers defense.
Despite all that the defense really wasn't that bad. Until you look at the penalties. The Nick Collins takedown. Frank Zombo's helmet-to-helmet hit. Pass interference calls on Brandon Chillar and Morgan Burnett on the game winning drive. Zombo's penalty was just a case of playing hard but ignoring the NFL's point of emphasis on hits to the head. But most of the penalties were just mental errors, plain and simple. The Packers gave up 30 yards on the game tying drive then another 24 on the game winner. Inexcusable in a tight game like this one.
It certainly wasn't all on defense. Mark Tauscher's holding penalty wiped out a Jermichael Finley touchdown. A blocked field goal two players later wiped out the entire drive to open the second half. Then there was three penalties in a stretch where the Packers couldn't escape the shadow of their own end zone. With no chance to pick up a first down the Packers punted. And paid the price for it.
That brings us to field position. Having to start drives inside their own ten yard line twice is bad enough but giving up the kind of field position the Packers did makes it easy even for Jay Cutler. Aside from Hester's return for a score the Bears started drives at their own 43, their own 40, Green Bay's 44 and Green Bay's 46 off the James Jones fumble.
And what was with Mike McCarthy's challenge late in the game? A valuable timeout was burned on a call that had no chance of being overturned. Well, you can add it all up. Giving up 276 offensive yards is good. Giving up 185 return yards is bad. Committing 18 penalties is downright atrocious and no team deserves to win with that many mistakes.