To call a Week 2 contest a must-win game would be an overstatement. After all, the 2007 New York Giants fell to 0-2 by losing to the Green Bay Packers. They won the Super Bowl, anyway.
Still, Thursday night’s showdown against the Chicago Bears was vital for the Packers. With a loss, they would be 0-2 – including 0-2 at home – and two games behind the Bears in the NFC North.
Instead, thanks to a shocking fourth-and-26 fake field goal and a defensive effort reminiscent of the Packers’ run to the championship in 2010, Green Bay earned a critical bounce-back win, 23-10.
The defense, pushed around by San Francisco last week, did the pushing on this night. Green Bay registered three sacks and held Chicago to 0 net passing yards in the first half. Under constant pressure, Jay Cutler threw four interceptions – two to Tramon Williams and one apiece by Charles Woodson (the 55th of his career) and Jerron McMillian.
Time after time, the Packers’ offense couldn’t put the game away. Time after time, the defense held firm. After Woodson’s third-quarter interception, Aaron Rodgers and James Jones failed to connect for what should have been an easy touchdown, and Jermichael Finley fumbled on the next play. No worries. The Bears went three-and-out on their next series.
Mason Crosby’s 54-yard field goal gave the Packers a 16-3 lead with 11:38 remaining in the game. On the first play after the kickoff, Cutler threw deep to Brandon Marshall just as he was getting hit by A.J. Hawk. Williams collected his second pick of the game and returned it 38 yards to Chicago’s 26. On the next play, Aaron Rodgers hit Donald Driver for the clinching touchdown.
After Cutler’s third interception, his passer rating was 8.6.
Green Bay led 3-0 and moved into scoring position when receiver Randall Cobb, lined up in the backfield, took a pitch and sped through the Bears’ defense for 28 yards to the 11. The drive stalled, however, when Julius Peppers and Henry Melton recorded back-to-back sacks and Aaron Rodgers misfired on a crossing route to Cobb. On fourth-and-26, the field-goal unit trotted on the field but coach Mike McCarthy took an unlikely gamble by calling a fake punt. Holder Tim Masthay flipped the ball to tight end Tom Crabtree, who ran through a huge hole off right guard for a shocking 27-yard touchdown to make it 10-0 with 1:50 to go until halftime.
On the ensuing possession, Jay Cutler threw a weak pass off his back foot that was intercepted by Tramon Williams. That set up Mason Crosby’s 35-yard field goal on the final play of the half to build the margin to 13-0.
The Bears probably felt fortunate to be trailing by just two scores. Green Bay held advantages of 201-47 in yards and 13-4 in first downs. Cutler threw for 37 yards but lost 30 yards on three sacks.