Rodgers leaves game and the Bears pick up a huge win
Now, while the Packers have encountered multiple injuries on both sides of the ball, the one constant is number 12. Aaron Rodgers has only missed two games in his 6-year career as a starter.
What transpired Monday night only reinforces the fear of every franchise and fan--losing their starting quarterback and for how long.
The Bears and their fans received a gift nobody expected. What went from a game very few gave the Bears a chance to win, quickly switched to a game I'm sure most Bears' fans (including yours truly) thought how will they find a way to lose.
The Bears did try several times to give the game away. The Packers blocked a punt at midfield after the Bears had a rare 3-and-out. And after the Packers scored early in the 3rd quarter to tie the game at 17, the Packers then recovered a surprise onside kick, which resulted in a field goal that gave the Packers a 20-17 lead.
Even with the Packers having to dust off Seneca Wallace, the way the Bears defense has played since the injuries started piling up, you wouldn't be wrong to think Wallace may end up having a career game.
However, that wasn't the case, as Packers' Head Coach Mike McCarthy opted to put the ball in the hands of rookie running back Eddie Lacy instead of his backup QB. Thanks to Lacy's beast mode 2.0 (my nickname for him) status, and the Bears inability to tackle anyone, the Packers were still in this game.
Since losing pro bowl DT Henry Melton, I don't think I've ever seen the Bears' defense run on at will the way it has been this year. What makes it worse is that safeties Major Wright and Chris Conte couldn't tackle you. Yes, you reading this right now. Good chance they would whiff on you in the open field.
Lacy ran through the Bears D like swiss cheese (no pun intended). It reminded me of last year's SEC Championship game where he manhandled the Georgia Bulldogs in the third quarter. As an Alabama fan I was happy for him; as a Bears' fan I was nauseous.
Journeyman quarterback Josh McCown has been nothing short of a godsend since Jay Cutler went out with a groin injury. The most significant aspect is that he's played clean football since taking over. That's right--zero turnovers in six quarters of action. Shocking for most Bears' fans to digest, considering Cutler is normally near the top of the league in that category. Just to put in perspective, Cutler hasn't had back-to-back clean games all year.
The difference in Monday's game was the Bears' 4th quarter drive that may have changed their season. With the Bears leading 24-20, they took over with nine plus minutes left on the clock. The critical play on that drive came on 4th and inches on their own 33 yard line.
Most coaches punt the football, especially with the lead and a backup QB on the other side. New head coach Marc Trestman made a decision that could get coaches fired. Now we'll never know how the game would've played out had Trestman opted to punt the football. What we do know is the Bears converted on 4th and inches, then went down the field on an 18-play drive, that subsequently gave the Packers the ball back with under one minute left on the clock down 7.
And not only was it that decision, it was also Trestman's play calling for the majority of the game. He kept the Packers guessing most of the night. He opened the game with his backup quarterback throwing seven straight times. Everything seemed to work for the Bears' offense.
McCown, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery all had big games for the Bears. The unsung hero(s) for the Bears, which has been the achilles heel in previous years, is their new offensive line. McCown was barely touched; being sacked once, while having all day on some plays to hook up with his dominating receivers.
You cannot give enough credit to GM Phil Emery for retooling that offensive line via free agency and the draft. What went from a weakness, has now become the backbone of this team.
And despite the defense getting mauled via the run, former first round pick Shea Mcclellin had his best game as a pro. He had three sacks; one that knocked Rodgers from the game, and another that ended the game.
Bears' fans can all exhale--they didn't find a way to lose this game.