Pack Attack Bears 27-17
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Sep 26, 2011 3:30PM
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Three weeks into the season and the Bears' 18-point victory over the Atlanta Falcons is beginning to look like the fluke. For the second time in as many times, the Bears suffered through a one-dimensional offensive game plan and fell to a team projected by many to win the Super Bowl. With the Green Bay Packers' 27-17 win at Soldier Field yesterday, the Bears show that they've got a lot to improve before they merit consideration among the conference's elite.
Aaron Rodgers led the Packers down the field on the game's opening drive and connected with Jermichael Finley for the first of his three touchdown catches and gave the Packers an early 7-0 lead. The Pack extended their lead with another Finley TD early in the second quarter before the Bears finally got on the board. After completions to Devin Hester, Sam Hurd and Johnny Knox efficiently moved the Bears into the red zone, Jay Cutler found Dane Sanzenbacher in the end zone. The teams traded field goals in the final two minutes of the half, which gave Green Bay a 17-10 lead at the break.
While the Bears managed just three yards of offense in the third quarter, the Packers added three points, then extended their lead further when Rodgers connected with Finley for the third time. A Cutler interception was followed by a Packers fumble. Cutler then hit Kellen Davis for a 32-yard TD strike that cut the lead to 10 points, but the Bears got no closer. Brian Urlacher intercepted the ball on the Bears' next possession, but they were forced to punt after the offense managed a three and out and negative yards. A nifty trick play led to a Knox 89-yard punt return for an apparent score, but was called back on a holding penalty and nullified the Bears' dwindling hopes for a miracle finish.
A week after the Bears ran the ball just 12 times, and both Lovie Smith and Mike Martz ensure the Bears would find a more balanced offensive game plan. Instead, the Bears ran the ball 12 times for the second straight week and gained only 13 yards. While the line provided decent pass protection for Cutler, they were unable to help the running game get untracked. With their one-dimensional offense, Cutler completed 21 of 37 passes for 302 yards and two TDs, but he was also picked off twice and had a third interception negated by a flag. He failed to connect with Roy Williams on any of four passed that went Williams' way.
Said a clearly frustrated Cutler, "It’s so hit and miss in what we’re doing well and what we’re not doing well that I don’t even know where to begin." Center Roberto Garza stepped up and took the blame on behalf of the line for the Bears running game futility,“Obviously, we’re not creating the holes, and Matt [Forte]’s not even able to get to the line of scrimmage. That’s our fault. It starts with the offensive line. We have to get that done. We have to create movement and create holes for Matt to run through. We have a great running back, and we’re not allowing him to showcase [his] skills.”
With the offensive in utter disarray, we wouldn't be surprised to see fans and armchair quarterbacks calling for Mike Martz's job. His "Greatest Show on Turf" seems as much a relic of the late 90's as Netscape. Perhaps hosting the 1-2 Carolina Panthers will get the Bears back into the win column. But with jettisoned tight end Greg Olsen playing for Carolina and Lovie Smith's former defensive coordinator Ron Rivera now his Panthers counterpart, there will be a number on the other sideline with something to prove. Getting back to 2-2 might be enough to keep the Bears in the hunt for now, but a 1-3 start would not bode well for the Bears in 2011.