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Packers 37, Chicago 3

Where did this Packer team come from? This was not the same team that was outplayed last week in Minnesota. Unfortunately this game looks like a fluke. The Packers are better then their record would indicate, but they don't stomp their opponent 37-3 every week (obviously). The real shock is that this is a complete turn around from last week's loss at Minnesota.

Teams Net Yards Time of Possession Turnovers
Minnesota 361 36:05 3
Packers 184 23:55 0
Teams Net Yards Time of Possession Turnovers
Chicago 234 22:32 1
Packers 427 37:28 1

Except for the turnovers, and QB Gus Frerotte had some killer turnovers, the Packers turned it all around in one week. Teams don't turn it all around that dramatically in one week. The truth is somewhere in between; the Packers aren't as bad as the team that lost in Minnesota, but not as good as the one that crushed the Bears.

  • RB Ryan Grant and the offensive line. It was a pretty simple plan; offensive tackle block defensive end, offensive guard block defensive tackle, fullback take out linebacker, open a running lane for Grant, he makes at least one defender miss on the tackle while he runs for a big gain, and repeat. They've been trying it all season, and they've been getting better every week for the last few weeks since Grant's hamstring injury has fully healed, but this was the first time they've completely dominated a run defense. Some credit is due to RB Brandon Jackson, who had been quietly averaging 5 yards/carry this season, got his first extended rushing duties in several weeks, and again averaged 5 yards/carry. And Chicago's run defense was not just some run defense. Football Outsiders had them ranked as the 2nd best coming into this game. They had allowing just under 75 yards/game. After the Packers ran for 200 yards against them, they've allowed 87.4 yards/game.
  • Defense. A typical drive for Chicago started somewhere between their 20-30 yard line. They couldn't go deep because their wide receivers couldn't beat the Packers' cornerbacks or safeties deep. They were able to run the ball a little, RB Matt Forte averaged over 4 yards/carry, but he had nothing over 10 yards. They could complete short crossing routes to Forte or TE Greg Olsen, but that didn't produce any big plays either. They had to work their way down the field on every drive. And when they found themselves in a 3rd down situation, the defense stepped up and Chicago was only 3 for 12 on 3rd down. No one player deserves credit for the defensive performance, everyone seemed to do their job, which was why Chicago's offense looked so inept.
  • QB Aaron Rodgers. He made one mistake. Early in the 2nd quarter, WR Donald Driver broke deep down the middle, but LB Brian Urlacher was providing the short coverage. Rodgers underthrew the ball and it went right to Urlacher. It was too bad, Driver was open and could have had a long TD reception if Rodgers could have gotten some more air under the ball. Other than that one mistake, Rodgers was near perfect, completing 76% of his passes, no other turnovers, two TD passes, no sacks, and a QB rating of 105.8.

The Packers have had trouble against Chicago's defense in recent seasons. Chicago has been able to drop their linebackers deep to take away the slant routes which allowed their cornerbacks and safeties to take away the deep sidelines and middle. All that the Packers could do in some games was throw dump off passes or try and find the very small hole in the zones.

In this game, Chicago's linebackers, except for the one INT described above by Urlacher, just weren't a factor. Rodgers took what he was given and completed passes to nine different receivers. Sometimes he found WR Greg Jennings or Driver on a slant, but he was content to dump it off to TE Donald Lee, who ended the game with the most receptions (6) and none for more than 8 yards. Balanced out with a strong running game, and some poor Chicago tackling, the offense clicked and put up big numbers.

It's only one game, too bad you aren't allowed to rollover some of those scores, but it has to give the entire team a big confidence boost. The run defense is still a problem, although LB A.J. Hawk looked great in his first game at middle linebacker. He was rarely blocked out and seemed to be involved in nearly every play. The pass defense has been fantastic all season, and the pass offense is there for nearly every game. Now the run offense is clicking too. The key for the Packers is to build an early lead. Then the opposing team must throw against the fantastic pass defense instead of running against the suspect run defense.