The Chicago Bears were coming off of a bye week and looking to get back into the playoff hunt in the NFC North after losing two straight to Miami and New England. They were facing their biggest rival in one of football's most famous venues, Lambeau Field. If they could beat the Packers and take down the Vikings next week at home, they'd have a chance at a potential wild-card spot.
Those dreams died quickly, as Chicago allowed the Packers to score 42 unanswered points in the first half of Green Bay's way to an 55-14 win. This game was an unadulterated beatdown -- the second-worst halftime deficit in NFL history, and it didn't get better from there as the Packers scored the most points against the Bears since 1962. Here's what we learned:
1.) Aaron Rodgers had himself a game.
Here are the halftime stats for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers: 18 completions in 24 attempts, 315 yards and six touchdowns. Rodgers played an almost perfect half of football, running away from pressure and making huge throws. The last time a Packers QB had three 40-plus-yard touchdown passes in a single game? Nov. 1, 1942. Rodgers was taken out in place of backup Matt Flynn midway through the third quarter. He'd done his job.
Rodgers suffered a small hamstring injury two weeks ago against the Saints, but showed no signs of any lingering issues. He avoided sacks and was able to look off defenders to pick up big chunks of yardage in the middle of the field to receivers like Nelson and wide receiver Randall Cobb (who had a heckuva catch for a touchdown in the first half). Looks like the bye week appears to have come at the perfect time for Rodgers and the Packers as they look to challenge Detroit for the NFC Division title.
His favorite target, wide receiver Jordy Nelson, had 152 yards and two touchdowns, as the Bears' secondary consistently left Nelson wide open.
Sure, you’d call that a blown coverage, but you’re not appreciating the artistry and aesthetics of just how egregiously awful it was.— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) November 10, 2014
2.) The Bears could not possibly be worse.
The best play for the Bears in the first half? A hit-out-of-bounds penalty against Green Bay that gave Chicago 15 yards. They were absolutely dominated by the Packers' defense, including Clay Matthews, who moved to inside linebacker and played like a man possessed.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall provided a brief bright spot for the Bears, picking up 112 yards and ending a streak of 66 straight points scored by the Packers against the Bears with a touchdown in the third quarter. But he got hurt and hobbled off the field in the fourth quarter. Receiver Chris Williams ran back a kickoff for a touchdown, but receiver Alshon Jefferey was largely kept in check until the waning moments of the game.
Quarterback Jay Cutler provided little in the way of respite for the Bears' offense. His numbers weren't terrible, but Cutler just couldn't get the offense started against a suffocating Packers pass rush (and throwing a pick-six to the Packers' Casey Hayward didn't help). He's now 0-4 against Green Bay at Lambeau.
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The Bears did lead in one category: penalty yardage. They had more than 150 yards of penalties midway through the third quarter.
3.) What happened to the Bears defense?
Sure, Brian Urlacher retired a few years ago, but the Bears still have firepower on the defensive line (they're 14th in the league against the rush.) Defensive end Jared Allen is a future Hall of Famer, for instance. So how has this team given up more than 50 points three times in their last 11 games?
Because their secondary is atrocious, and the blame should go squarely on defensive backs coach Jon Hoke and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. With defensive back Charles Tillman sidelined with an injury for the year, the Bears are one of the worst defenses in the league against the pass. Against Green Bay, the defensive backs and cornerbacks seemed completely lost at Lambeau, giving Packers receivers acres of space and allowing Rodgers and Flynn to make huge throws.
The Bears are now 3-6, and will welcome the Vikings to Chicago next week. They are the second team in NFL history to give up 50 points or more in back-to-back games, and the first since 1923.