Green Bay won the regular-season finale last January before knocking off the Bears in the NFC Championship game later that month.
Aaron Rodgers connected three times for touchdowns with tight end Jermichael Finley, who missed most of last season with an injury. The Packers remain unbeaten (3-0) while the Bears fell to 1-2 with the setback.
“When you play the defending champions … you have to play good football,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “We didn’t do that today. … We have to regroup. It’s a long season.”
The Bears could not generate any sort of running game, settling for a total of 13 yards rushing.
Matt Forte had two yards on nine carries. Jay Cutler had the other 11 yards on three scrambles.
“They played good, sound defense,” Smith said. “You have to give them credit. … They’re good up front. Their front seven is solid and they showed that today.”
Although the Packers led all the way, the Bears hung around. Cutler (21-of-37, 302 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, 78.9 passer rating) hit tight end Kellen Davis on a 32-yard touchdown pass to pull the Bears within 27-17 with 11:56 remaining in the game. The score came after Julius Peppers recovered a James Starks fumble.
But the Bears’ offense couldn’t muster another scoring drive.
“Until we put together a full game and we’re consistent and balanced, it’s going to be tough for us to win another game, even though the defense is playing lights out,” Cutler said.
Asked about Forte’s struggles, Cutler said, “”We’ve just got to find ways to get him the ball, get him rushes, get him touches, get him going. He’s an explosive, explosive player, and I feel bad for him right now. He wants the ball, he wants to help out and we’re not giving him a lot of opportunities.”
The Green Bay game ended a run of three straight games against playoff teams from last season. The Bears handled the Atlanta Falcons in surprisingly easy fashion in the season-opener, winning 30-12 at Soldier Field. A speed bump awaited the Bears in New Orleans, however, as Cutler was sacked six times en route to a 30-13 drubbing in the Superdome.
Asked what the Bears learned from opening with such a difficult schedule, linebacker Lance Briggs said, “We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to get better. It’s good to get tested early on, find out how teams are going to attack us, but at the same time, it’s about what we do. And what we do is, we need to get better.”
Rodgers’ third touchdown pass of the game to tight end Finley early in the fourth quarter had put the Packers on top 27-10. The nine-yard toss capped a six-play, 44-yard drive at the 12:49 mark of the final period.
Mason Crosby‘s second field goal of the game, from 28 yards out, extended the Packers’ lead to 20-10 midway through the third quarter, and that’s where the teams stood entering the final period. The drive covered 53 yards in eight plays.
The Bears got a 25-yard field goal from Robbie Gould to pull within 17-10 with 53 seconds left in the first half. The kick capped a seven-play, 73-yard drive.
The Packers had tacked on a 37-yard field goal by Crosby with 1:51 left until halftime to make the score 17-7. The drive covered 61 yards on 7 plays.
The Bears pulled to within 14-7 midway through the second quarter on a four-yard touchdown pass from Cutler to Dane Sanzenbacher. The Bears drove 80 yards in seven plays.
The game was delayed later in the second quarter when an official said there was “a dangerous situation” with the Soldier Field turf. The problem apparently was remedied quickly and play resumed.
By Fred Mitchell