Out Of Reach
After allowing Bears fans to fantasize for a moment Sunday, Aaron Rodgers threw 5 TDs in a 35-21 triumph that eliminated the Bears from the playoffs. Melissa Isaacson
The Bears dominated time of possession in the first half (19:22 to 10:38) by feeding running backs Kahlil Bell and Armando Allen, which played a role in keeping Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers off the field. For the game, Chicago led time of possession 35:48 to 24:12. Just two minutes into the second half, Bell had already eclipsed the 100-yard mark. Bell averaged 5.3 yards per attempt, and the Bears ran the ball 42 times for 199 yards against a bad rush defense.
The Bears called more runs early on to take some pressure off quarterback Josh McCown. But other than his two interceptions, McCown performed well when called upon. McCown completed 67.8 percent of his attempts for a passer rating of 76.8 and added another 38 yards with his feet. The performance left one team official to naturally wonder how the team would've fared had they made McCown the starter sooner.
Chicago's rushing attack actually helped its run defense because the Packers didn't get many snaps in the first half, and were forced to throw because of limited opportunity. Green Bay ran the ball just six times over the first two quarters for 14 yards, and ramped up the rushing attempts in the second half with little success (3.9-yard average). Ryan Grant dropped Chicago's grade here by averaging 5.5 yards per carry, in addition to breaking a 24-yarder.
It's inexcusable to let a quarterback complete 8 of 8 for 77 yards and a touchdown in a team's opening drive, which is exactly what the Packers did behind Rodgers. What's worse is the Bears gave up five touchdown passes for the first time since 2009. The Bears settled in after the early onslaught from Rodgers, but still suffered too many lapses at inopportune times.
Devin Hester deserves credit for trying to play through nagging injuries that have robbed him of elusiveness. Hester ran for a 23.4-yard average on kickoff returns, but didn't make as much of an impact on punts. Robbie Gould missed a 49-yard attempt in heavy winds, but nailed his other two kicks. Adam Podlesh punted just twice, but netted a 45-yard average.
The offensive staff orchestrated solid protection up front and a bruising ground game. Most importantly, it prepared McCown -- in little time -- to play in a difficult environment against the defending Super Bowl champions. So the offensive staff deserves kudos for a game plan designed on keeping the ball away from Rodgers. But the defense didn't do much to help with Rodgers, who picked apart the Bears secondary.