by Troy Sparks
CHICAGO – This was the moment that the Chicago Bears waited for. Getting even with their archrivals, the Green Bay Packers, at home, Sept. 25, at Soldier Field, was on their minds.
It was also on the minds of Packers and Bears fans. I rode with many of them on the Amtrak to Chicago. There was no drama, just a peaceful ride to the Windy City.
Walking to Soldier Field with lots of navy blue and orange-clad fans was mentally painful. Under the bridge, someone sold green T-shirts that said, “Green Gay Packers” in gold letters. Ouch! No matter the insults of the Green Bay fans from Wisconsin by Chicagoans, we came down here on a mission to kick some butt once again.
The Packers knew how bad the Bears waited eight months to get a piece of them. It didn’t scare them at all. It was as if they told the Bears to bring it on.
Most of the country would see this late afternoon game on TV because it was the best rivalry in the league. What would the NFL be without a game involving the two oldest teams in the league?
Back in Chicago’s house since January, Green Bay didn’t need to show what they could do. They won the toss, took the ball and proved it.
Aaron Rodgers took his team downfield, and they scored on their first possession in the first quarter. The green and gold hurt themselves with three penalties in the quarter. They also took a loss when right tackle Bryan Bulaga went down with a knee injury with 7 minutes, 7 seconds remaining in the first. Backup offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse stepped up in Bulaga’s absence.
Meanwhile, I was still waiting on the Bears to respond to a 7-0 deficit. They couldn’t. It was the Packers who got another touchdown early in the second quarter to lead 14-0.
Where was the Chicago offense? Was it missing in action? How would they respond? Would it be another beat-down in their backyard?
Something clicked in Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler’s head because he got the Bears to the end zone in no time when after Jermichael Finley scored his second TD of the game. And just like that, it was a 14-7 contest. Why would you expect anything less than a dogfight?
A dogfight on a bad field would add to the suspense of the NFL’s version of the Hatfields and McCoys. The groundskeeping crew patched up parts of the field days before the game with new sod that was anchored by 9-inch nails. One of the nails didn’t stay in the ground. The officials called a timeout to address a “ground zero” issue because the nail was sticking up from the ground. Good thing that issue was addressed right away or somebody would have been hurt.
Chicago kept within striking distance with Green Bay as both teams traded field goals in the second quarter. A 17-10 halftime lead for the Packers wasn’t enough of a cushion. They needed to put the Bears away.
In the second half, the Packers defense did what they do best: Pressure the quarterback. It looked like Cutler needed more beef to keep the hounds off him. At least he stayed in the entire game.
The Packers were on a roll. There was no way the Bears could stop the World Champions. Only two complete passes in the third quarter from Cutler and a handful of bad passes drew some boos from the Chicago fans. The Bears rushed for only two yards in the third.
Even a 20-10 lead by Green Bay to start the fourth quarter wasn’t safe against the Bears. After the Packers scored their final TD from another reception by Finley, his third score of the game, it was lights out. With about 6 minutes left in the game, the Chicago fans left the stadium.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the entire game because of the 3:15 p.m. start. And there was nothing worse than walking in downtown Chicago in the dark at 6:30 p.m. with a bunch of angry Bear fans.
Cutler had to throw the ball more when he realized that the Packers’ D shut down the running lanes. The Bears rushed for 13 yards, 11 which came from Cutler. He threw for 302 yards but had two interceptions.
The Packers ran their offense like a well-oiled machine. Ryan Grant ran for 92 yards. Greg Jennings caught eight passes for 119 yards. Finley had 85 yards on seven receptions. Jordy Nelson had three catches for 40 yards. Rodgers threw for 297 yards, three TDs and an interception. James Jones had 24 yards on four receptions.
Lost in the action was Donald Driver. He didn’t have a catch, but he understands that Rodgers will go to the hot hand and whoever is open.
So the Pack is 3-0 and the Bears are 1-2. I guess the re-match of the NFC Championship Game didn’t come close to what was anticipated. The Packers won, 27-17.
Once again, Green Bay showed why they haven’t missed a beat. Three opponents and three wins so far should leave Packer Nation wondering, who’s next. We might go 16-0.
When Chicago comes to Lambeau Field on Dec. 25, we will have Christmas presents for them: Blankets to keep them warm and to cry on after we beat them again. Another thing on their wish list should be a QB who knows how to win and not wimp out.
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