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Packers’ defense starts hot, Rodgers excels on play-action in 41-25 win over Bears

The Packers won comfortably on Sunday Night Football, with the defense forcing three early turnovers to help complement another efficient offensive performance.

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

While Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers’ offense have been clicking throughout the 2020 season, two of the team’s defensive starters have seemingly taken a step back in 2020. Rodgers maintained his groove against a Chicago Bears defense that was statistically one of the NFL’s best coming into Sunday night, but all those defensive players needed was a little Mitchell Trubisky in their lives to get back to making splashy plays at important times.

Safety Darnell Savage recorded two interceptions of Trubisky while outside linebacker Preston Smith picked up a sack and a scoop-and-score touchdown on a fumble recovery. Those two players led the way for an opportunistic defense that was finally able to provide a complement to an efficient offense — at least early on in the game — as the Packers won comfortably by the score of 41-25.

Rodgers threw four touchdowns in the game, three coming in the first half as Green Bay leapt out to a big early lead and was able to coast down the stretch. Green Bay’s defense softened significantly later on, allowing a pair of garbage time touchdowns after the Packers racked up a 41-10 lead. That made the final score look closer than the game was for most of the day, but the Packers still put a convincing W on the board, moving to 8-3 and sitting three full games clear of the Bears and Vikings in the NFC North with five to play.

The defense’s late struggles might threaten to overshadow its early successes, but the offense was consistent throughout. Rodgers was efficient throughout the first half, distributing the football to several different receivers with accuracy and poise. He threw touchdown passes to Davante Adams, Marcedes Lewis, and Allen Lazard in order on the Packers’ three first-half drives (their fourth official drive consisted of a single run at the end of the second quarter) as Green Bay jumped out to a two-possession lead just 15 minutes in and led 27-10 at the half.

The Packers’ short and play-action passing game worked to great effect, as Matt LaFleur dialed up play-fakes with regularity. No single play went for more than 15 yards before halftime, but those steady drives of 14, 9, and 13 yards ensured that the Packers would dominate the time of possession, holding the football for over 20 minutes prior to the break.

In a harbinger of later issues, the Packers’ defense did give up an early explosive play, doing so almost immediately after taking the field with a 6-0 lead. With Trubisky handing off on a read-option, the Packers had one player to the left of the center, allowing David Montgomery to find daylight and beat the linebackers to the second level. Montgomery was eventually tracked down 57 yards later just inside the ten-yard line, but the Packers’ defense stiffened; a pass breakup by Kevin King and Raven Greene on Allen Robinson kept Chicago out of the end zone early and forced a field goal.

After that, Trubisky’s next two drives finished in failure. A deep shot play went down as an interception for Darnell Savage, as the speedy free safety tracked the football beautifully in the end zone. Later, the pocket collapsed around him and Za’Darius Smith forced the football out, where Preston Smith was eagerly awaiting it. The much-maligned Preston scooped up the football and rumbled 14 yards for a touchdown, getting the Packers’ defense just its second touchdown of the season and extending the Packers’ lead out to 27-3.

A late touchdown in the first half for Chicago gave them a chance to double up around the break, but Preston Smith came through with a big third-down sack to force the Bears’ first punt of the game. Following Savage’s second interception — a terrible decision by Trubisky to throw into triple coverage — Rodgers would extend Green Bay’s lead, once again off play-action. After a play-fake and a bootleg to his left, Rodgers lofted a bomb to an open Robert Tonyan, who had shaken safety Eddie Jackson’s coverage on a double-move. The 39-yard score extended the Packers’ lead back to 24 points at 34-10.

Jamaal Williams would add an impressive 13-yard touchdown run to complete the scoring for the Packers late in the third quarter. With Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks out with a hamstring injury, the Packers found plenty of running room on the interior of the line, helping to complement the play-action passing success. Williams and Aaron Jones each carried the football 17 times, combining for 163 yards on the ground (90 for Jones and 73 for Williams).

On the other side, David Montgomery and Allen Robinson were the stars for Chicago. Montgomery finished the day with over 100 yards on the ground in just 11 carries and another 40 yards and a late score through the air. Robinson, meanwhile, had the Bears’ other two touchdowns, totaling 74 yards on eight catches.

Rodgers finished the day 21-for-29 passing for 211 yards and four touchdowns, his fifth game with four or more passing scores all-time against Chicago.