NFC North: Pisa
September, 14, 2009
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
|AP Photo/Jim Prisching|
|Quarterback Jay Cutler's tenure in Chicago got off to a rocky start as he was picked off four times.|
Sooooooo glad I missed arguably one of the best NFC North games to have been played so far this season. In all seriousness, Green Bay’s 21-15 victory Sunday night over Chicago was wild, unpredictable and ultimately thrilling.
It wasn’t always played with precision or beauty, but you could sense the intensity, emotion and physicality through the television. And you could almost feel the exhale from Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers after his 50-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings won the game with 1:11 remaining.
Rodgers and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler each struggled for large parts of the night, but it was Rodgers who came up with the biggest throw of the game. As if to illustrate the current difference between them, Cutler responded on the next play from scrimmage by throwing his fourth interception of the game. Some thoughts on this evening before we call it a (long) day:
- The game was Rodgers’ third come-from-behind fourth-quarter victory, but the first against a team other than Detroit. Under a heavy rush, he had missed two long passes earlier in the game, one to Jennings and one to Donald Driver. But Rodgers regained his composure -- and accuracy -- when it counted. Round 1 of the JayRod battle goes to Rodgers.
- For the most part, the potential mismatch we discussed between the Packers’ passing game and Chicago’s pass defense never materialized. I was impressed with the Bears’ pass rush, both their blitzes and their four-man rush, and for the most part they got decent coverage from the secondary. But it shouldn’t go unnoticed that Jennings torched cornerback Nate Vasher on the game-winning play. If everyone was healthy, Zack Bowman would have been the defender of record.
- Chicago’s health situation got worse as the game proceeded. Linebacker Brian Urlacher (wrist) and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee) did not return to the game after suffering injuries. For those keeping track, that’s 67 percent of their starting linebacker corps.
- There will be a lot of discussion about the “fake punt” that ultimately gave the Packers three points in the fourth quarter. We’ll wait for an official explanation, but for now I think it’s a fair assumption the Bears weren’t on the same page with that play. Garrett Wolfe looked like he wasn’t expecting the snap, and punter Brad Maynard threw up his hands in disgust. Either way, those three points didn’t decide the game.
- How big of a swing was this? The Packers suddenly have a decent chance of starting 3-0, with a home game next week against Cincinnati followed by a game at St. Louis. The Bears? They will have their work cut out for them to avoid starting 0-3 with games against Pittsburgh next week (at Soldier Field) and at Seattle in Week 3.