Chicago – A 10-3 defense-dominated snoozer is certainly not the way the NFL brass wanted to open their regaled 100th season between the league’s greatest rivals.
It was ugly and boring to fantasy-league fans who value high-scoring offenses and highlight-reel touchdowns. But to football purists who appreciate defense, this game was a thing of beauty.
The Green Bay Packers will take the win either way, and left the Windy City with an important road victory, alone at the top of the North Division with a 1-0 record.
Next week, Green Bay hosts the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field, while 0-1 Chicago has the formidable task of facing the Broncos in the thin air of Denver and their former head coach.
Coordinator Mike Pettine’s suffocating pressure defense was spectacular, limiting the Bears to 254 total yards, sacking quarterback Mitch Trubisky five times, and intercepting him in the end zone at a crucial juncture of the fourth quarter as Chicago was driving for a potential tying score.
Head coach Matt LaFleur notched a W in his debut and praised the play of his defense, which allowed just a field goal in the first quarter and Chicago to 3 of 15 third-down conversions and 0 for 2 on fourth-down attempts.
“It seemed like we were all over the place,” LaFleur said of his defense.
Former Bears safety Adrian Amos haunted his former team with a key interception of Trubisky in the back of the end zone with two minutes left in the game. After Chicago forced a Packers punt, the Green Bay defense fittingly ended the contest with a fourth-down sack by Preston Smith.
“It was great for Adrian to come in here and close out that game with a pick right there at the end,” LaFleur said.
The Packers offense and Aaron Rodgers struggled against a talented Chicago defense, and could only muster a second-quarter touchdown and a third-quarter field goal.
“I think we showed the league we’re not an offensive dominated team,” said Rodgers, who hit Jimmy Graham on a free play with 12 men on the field for Chicago. Rodgers finished with 18 completions in 30 attempts for 203 yards (91.4 rating) as the Green Bay struggled to rush for just 47 yards.
Former Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton Dix said Rogers caught them with the free play, as he has so many other opponents. “Aaron is so good at that, and he got us,” Clinton Dix said. “But we held them in check pretty good. We just have to play better as a team. It was a great rivalry game and I was glad to be a part of it. I just wished we would have played better tonight.”