The Green Bay Packers won another game and they lost another key player.
Such has been the way of the 2021 season.
After some early struggles on defense and tremendous incompetence on special teams that had the Packers trailing 24-14 at one point, Green Bay was able to pour it on in the second half and come away with a more difficult than it looked 45-30 win over their arch-rival Chicago Bears. The victory puts the Packers at 10-3 and at the cusp of a third consecutive NFC North championship.
The victory came at another high cost as right tackle Billy Turner was lost with a knee injury in the second quarter while also losing Equanimeous St. Brown to a concussion.
The hits keep on coming but the Packers keep on overcoming them to remain strongly in play for the NFC’s top seed and as a Super Bowl contender.
On offense, Green Bay used Allen Lazard as a quasi-tight end, utilizing his blocking skills to the max especially after Turner went down. Lazard also had a game catching the ball including six catches and a touchdown.
Defensively, the Packers spent a majority of the game in nickel with Chandon Sullivan actually playing 90% of defensive snaps while Kevin King only saw the field three times. Use that information how you wish.
In terms of special teams, we’ll just say “yuck.”
OFFENSE (65 total plays)
Aaron Rodgers 63, Kurt Benkert 2
Things started very slowly for Rodgers and the offense after the opening drive sputtered followed by a quick three-and-out. Struggles continued with the deep ball as the offense finally kicked into gear in the second quarter with more quick passes from Rodgers that allowed his playmakers to do their thing.
Despite the slow start, the reigning MVP had a good day at the office finishing 29-37 for 341 yards and four touchdowns. It was a game that saw Rodgers’ MVP case strengthen as did his grip on the Bears’ throat.
Kurt Benkert meanwhile saw his first NFL action in two victory formation kneel-downs.
A.J. Dillon 35, Aaron Jones 29, Patrick Taylor 2
As the temperature in Wisconsin drops, Dillon’s workload increases. Despite Jones looking faster and running well in the first half, it was Dillon that pounded the rock in the second half and actually saw more snaps than Jones.
Jones was the one who got into the end zone however as he put the Packers ahead in the second half and later helped them pull away with a beautiful catch on a 23-yard touchdown reception. He had three receptions against only five carries.
Dillon meanwhile was the bell cow, finishing with 71 yards on 15 carries.
Davante Adams 58, Allen Lazard 53, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 43, Amari Rodgers 10, Equanimeous St. Brown 5, Malik Taylor 1
What else can we say about the connection between Aaron Rodgers and Adams at this point? Usually when a quarterback stares down a receiver from snap to finish it doesn’t end well yet the fourth quarter touchdown that sealed the game saw Rodgers do just that and it worked.
Those two are special.
Credit also to Lazard who had his best game statistically since the Week 3 win over the New Orleans Saints last year.
Josiah Deguara 37, Marcedes Lewis 36, Tyler Davis 9, Dominique Dafney 7
Josiah Deguara might have worked his way out of his quarterback’s doghouse after a big 25-yard reception while Marcedes Lewis was his usual dependable self as a blocker while also having his best day catching the ball in a while. It’s no wonder Rodgers and his teammates love the Big Dog.
Jon Runyan Jr. 65, Yosh Nijman 65, Lucas Patrick 65, Royce Newman 65, Dennis Kelly 42, Billy Turner 23
While beating the pants off the Bears is always a fun discussion, the bigger story to arguably come out of the game was the loss of Turner to a knee injury.
The severity of the injury is not yet known but judging by his slamming his helmet to the turf upon leaving the field, it’s tough to see Turner going this week against the Baltimore Ravens.
Dennis Kelly replaced Turner and actually held up very well. It was on the left side where the Packers had some issues at least early on as Yosh Nijman struggled with stopping Robert Quinn as he got two sacks in the first quarter.
That is until Quinn mocked the belt which is pretty much an immediate death sentence for a team playing the Packers.
Jokes aside, the Packers are now without their preferred starter at four out of the five offensive line positions. Only rookie guard Royce Newman remains.
DEFENSE (62 Total Plays)
Kenny Clark 51, Dean Lowry 39, Kingsley Keke 38, Tyler Lancaster 7, TJ Slaton 7
With the running threat of Justin Fields, it was no surprise to see the Packers lean more linebacker heavy to keep the shifty quarterback contained. It didn’t always work as Fields was actually the Bears’ leading rusher with 74 yards on nine carries.
Meanwhile, Kenny Clark was his usual destroyer of worlds and the rest of the defensive line did their jobs opening lanes for the Green Bay pass rush.
Rashan Gary 46, Preston Smith 44, Johnathan Garvin 18, Tipa Galeai 16
Preston Smith earned a $500,000 bonus by getting his sixth sack of the season and is probably owed an apology by many people who wrote him off after last season.
A forced fumble and two sacks showed that last season was a fluke year as he has helped compensate for the absence of Za’Darius Smith. Once Z returns, the Smith Brothers could be their potent 2019 selves once again.
De’Vondre Campbell 52, Krys Barnes 36, Oren Burks 1
De’Vondre Campbell returned from the COVID-19 list and he definitely appeared a little slower which we can probably chalk up to rust from not practicing.
The plan was to pressure Fields often but a slowed Campbell allowed the rookie quarterback to make some plays with his legs.
Eric Stokes 62, Rasul Douglas 59, Chandon Sullivan 56, Kevin King 3
Rasul Douglas has been arguably an even bigger steal than Campbell after a second pick-six in as many games and he nearly had a third in the second half.
We will say it one more time: how was this guy on a practice squad? What a steal by general manager Brian Gutekunst and staff.
Meanwhile Kevin King only saw three snaps. Was this being cautious despite him fully participating in practice later in the week or is it something else? It’s starting to look like the latter.
Darnell Savage 62, Adrian Amos 62, Henry Black 23
Finding a third safety needs to be near the top of the list for Gutekunst this coming spring because Black is too inconsistent. He made one good defense early in the game before getting cooked by Fields later on. There has to be another solution.
Special Teams Snap Leaders
Oren Burks 28, Ty Summers 28, Isaac Yiadom 27, Tyler Davis 27, Sheman St. Charles 24, Henry Black 22
We won’t comment on the special teams. Just know it was ugly.