Sunday, December 13, 2009

2009 - Packers v. Bears Analyzed

The Green Bay Packers broke their two game losing streak in Chicago with an ugly win over the Chicago Bears. By beating Chicago, the Packers extended their winning streak to five games (the fourth longest current winning streak in the NFL behind New Orleans-13, Indianapolis-13 and San Diego-8).

The Packers defense set the tone early by forcing a 3-and-out on the Bears' first offensive series. After the Bears punted, Ryan Grant took the Packers' first offensive play to the house for a 62 yard rushing touchdown. After Mason Crosby hit his second field goal early in the second quarter to give the Packers a 13-0 lead, the game looked to be a blowout. Credit the Bears, they settled down and made the game interesting. With the Bears leading early in the fourth quarter, Jay Cutler threw a horrible interception and the Packers pulled away for a 7 point victory.

Below are the five most important plays analyzed and a new section added to the end of the column:

#5) Green Bay leads 13-7, Green Bay ball on the Chicago 29 yard line, 1st and 10 with 12:56 left in the 3rd quarter:
Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) FUMBLES and RECOVERS at the Chicago 36 yard line. Aaron Rodgers FUMBLES at the Chicago 38 yard line RECOVERED by Anthony Adams (Chicago) and returns the ball 3 yards to the Chicago 44 yard line.

With the Packers driving in Chicago territory on their first possession of the second half Rodgers was under intense pressure and tried to make something out of nothing. At first blush it looked like Rodgers attempted two forward passes but upon further review Rodgers did in fact commit two fumbles. Rodgers recovered the first fumble but unfortunately did not recover the second fumble. The turnover also prevented Rodgers from scoring a touchdown to start the second half for the 29th consecutive game (for those counting at home that is every 2nd half since taking over for Brett Favre to start the 2008 NFL season).

This play sums up the offensive line play by the Packers. Right after the snap Roders was under siege. All in all the Packers offensive line was ineffective after their first play from scrimmage, Grant's 62 yard touchdown run. Although the Packers only gave up two sacks, Rodgers was under pressure all day. Luckily the Bears secondary was suspect and they didn't have an answer for match-up problems Jermicahel Finely creates.

#4) Green Bay leads 21-14, Green Bay ball on the Chicago 24 yard line, 4th and 9 with 6:10 left in the 4th quarter:
Mason Crosby (Green Bay) 42 yard field goal is No Good, Wide Right.

Mason Crosby continued his abysmal season by missing another important kick. If Crobsy converts that kick, the game is pretty much out of reach. Instead, the Bears got the ball on their own 32 yard line only down a touchdown.

After hitting all 4 field goal attempts against Detroit in Week #6, Crosby is 13 for 19 with 3 of the 6 misses coming from less than 50 yards away. The right hash mark has been his kryptonite, the same spot where Crosby missed from today. The Packers have to stick with Crobsy since it is so late in the season.

Crosby's poor kicking begs the question: if it is 4th and less than 3 yards between the 35 and 20 yard line does Mike McCarthy leave Aaron Rodgers and the offense on the filed? The Packers offense has a much better chance of picking up a few yards than Mason Crosby converting a kick from further than 35 yards out at this point.

#3) Green Bay leads 10-0, Chicago ball on their own 28 yard line, 1st and 10 with 3:31 left in the 1st quarter:
Jay Cutler (Chicago) threw deep right intended for Devin Aromashodu (Chicago) INTERCEPTED by Charles Woodson (Green Bay) at the Chicago 48 yard line and returned the ball 9 yards.

Woodson had an up and down day. On the positive side of the ledger Woodson picked off a poorly thrown ball by Jay Cutler and had a great shoe-string tackle that saved a huge gain. On the negative side of the ledger Woodson was responsible for consecutive back of the shoulder receptions (a long pass to Johnny Knox and a touchdown pass to Devin Aromashodu) on the drive that put the Bears up 14-13 early in the 3rd quarter. With how well Woodson has played all season, it is hard to get on him for giving up a touchdown catch but it shows the expectations that Woodson has created. With another interception, Woodson continues to make his case for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

#2) Game tied 0-0, Green Bay ball on their own 38 yard line, 1st and 10 with 13:23 left in the 1st quarter:
Ryan Grant (Green Bay) ran left tackle for 62 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

For those that took a little while getting through security they missed an explosive run by Ryan Grant. Take a read that correctly that "explosive" and "Ryan Grant" did in fact appear in the same sentence. The long touchdown run by Grant was blocked beautifully (one of the only times you can say that today) and Grant outran the Bears secondary for the 62 yard touchdown.

#1) Chicago leads 14-13, Chicago ball on their own 32 yard line, 3rd and 5 with 13:39 left in the 4th quarter:
Jay Cutler (Chicago) threw short left intended for Johnny Knox (Chicago) INTERCEPTED by Nick Collins (Green Bay) at Chicago 42 yard line and returned 31 yards to the Chicago 11 yard line.

Jay Cutler had a chance to make a play on 3rd down to help the Bears move the chains and possibly upset the Packers but he flat out blew it. Dom Capers dialed up a blitz that forced Cutler to throw the ball earlier then he wanted. Cutler's badly under thrown ball was easily intercepted by Nick Collins. Once Collins picked off the ball it looked like he had a chance to take it to the house but Collins was forced out of bounds by Matt Forte at the Bears' 11 yard line.

Trojan Bonner of the Week Award - Lovie Smith
This is a new award that I am adding to my weekly game analyzed column. The award goes to a player/coach/referee that makes a stupid play/decision/call during the game. This is quickly turning into one of the most talked about awards in all of sports so Lovie Smith should feel like a trailblazer for winning the first installment.

Green Bay leads 21-14, Chicago ball on the Chicago 20 yard line, 2nd and 22 with 4:58 left in the 4th quarter:
Jay Cutler (Chicago) threw incomplete deep middle to Greg Olsen. Chicago takes their first charged timeout of the 2nd half. After the timeout, Chicago challenged the incomplete pass ruling and the play was Upheld. Chicago is charged their second timeout of the 2nd half.

Lovie Smith made Mike McCarthy look like a genius today...that is really hard to do. With 5 minutes remaining in the game, the Bears had 3 timeouts and 2 challenges. After an incomplete pass the Bears faced a daunting 3rd and 22. Instead of challenging the play, Lovie Smith calls a timeout. That left the Bears with 2 timeouts and 2 challenges.

The Bears fan in front of me turned around and said "I bet you Lovie challenges the play after the timeout...he is a complete idiot." Right on cue, the Bears offense heads back onto the field for 3rd and 22 just as Lovie Smith throws the red challenge flag. The refs took a look at the play but did not find enough evidence to overturn the play. As a result the Bears lost a challenge and another timeout. That meant before ever running their 3rd and 22 play, Lovie Smith burned two timeouts and one challenge leaving the Bears helpless to stop the clock in a tight contest.

Obviously Lovie Smith should have just challenged the play originally, what are the chances that there would be two more challenge worthy plays in the final 3 minutes of the game?

As I was walking out of the stadium the same Bears fan that called Lovie Smith's bone head move before it ever happened put it very succinctly: "same old Bears bull s^&t, you are so lucky to be a Packers fan." Today is a sweet day to be a Packer fan living in Chicago...9-4 and a good chance to go to the playoffs!

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