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Packers stick with winning blitz formula

1/23/2011

CHICAGO -- The Green Bay Packers stuck to pretty much the same pressure formula they used in Week 17 to secure a 21-14 win Sunday over the Chicago Bears in the NFC title game.

They blitzed defensive backs off the edge out of nickel packages.

"The O-line was getting beat," Bears center Olin Kreutz said. "We were getting beat by them, and that starts with me."

Perhaps Kreutz assigned himself blame because he's usually responsible for identifying potential threats and making the correct calls to deploy the necessary protection. Green Bay sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler just twice, and brought a member of the secondary off the edge 13 times, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

The pressure appears to have made an impact.

When the Packers brought heat with defensive backs, they sacked Cutler once as he and backup Caleb Hanie -- who came in after Cutler was injured and Todd Collins was ineffective -- completed a combined 5 of 12 for a passer rating of 12.2 and two interceptions, including B.J. Raji's pick for a touchdown with 6:04 left to play.

"It seems defense has put these last three games away in these playoffs," Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said. "I think when you play a team three times, a familiar opponent you have to mix it up a little bit in order to present new problems."

But there wasn't much mixing involved in making the same-old problems resurface along Chicago's offensive line. When the teams played in Week 17, the Packers blitzed defensive backs 19 times (16 times in the second half) and sacked Cutler six times.

"It wasn't anything out of the ordinary that we thought we wouldn't see," receiver Earl Bennett said. "It's a tough pill to swallow."