I knew it was coming. I just didn’t want to believe it until I saw it. I’d like to think most rational-thinking Bears fans were expecting it, too.
Aaron Rodgers put on his cape, defended his championship belt, and dominated the second and third quarters of Sunday night’s game en route to a 45-30 Packers victory. He squashed any feel-good moments Bears fans might have been enjoying through two periods.
In a first half that saw just three combined punts — only one of which came from the navy and orange, if you can believe it — the Bears scored 27 points and were in control of most facets of the game.
Perhaps the one blemish aside from the opening drive punt was a Justin Fields pick-six. Other than that, the Bears were cooking. They got big offensive plays from Jakeem Grant and Damiere Byrd — exactly, who? — as well as an electrifying 97-yard punt return touchdown from Grant.
After a late Packers touchdown, Fields engineered a 6-play, 32-yard drive in 44 seconds that allowed the Bears to tack on a field goal heading into intermission. The Bears were executing and playing good football, and the scoreboard showed it.
But that’s about all the positive emotion Bears fans would feel for the rest of the night as the second half was a dramatic turnaround.
The Bears — on both sides of the ball — were about as listless as you could imagine coming out of halftime. They kicked off to start the third quarter and Rodgers drove the Packers 75 yards on nine plays to take the lead.
On the Bears’ first drive of the half, Fields was sacked and fumbled the ball away — which is becoming an ugly little problem of his. On the ensuing down, the Packers punched it into the end zone on a broken play to take a 35-27 lead.
The Bears went three and out on their next three possessions, while the Packers added a field goal. The defining drive of the half, though, was a backbreaking, 13-play, 71-yard drive that ate up 8:38 of game clock and ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Davante Adams. With just over four minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the game was toast by then.
Always the avid Bears fan, my expectations for the team when they face the Packers are extremely low. The bar that is set is “please don’t embarrass yourselves on national television.” This bar likely won’t budge until the Bears have a better offense or the Packers part ways with Rodgers — whichever comes first.
Stats can be deceiving, as we know. Fields finished the game with 224 passing yards. But exactly 100 of those came on the two broken plays that went for touchdowns. You can’t “take away plays,” of course. They happened and they count. But they also skewed Fields’ 6.8 yards per attempt — a number which would rank among the bottom third in the league at that statistic. His other 31 pass attempts against the Packers averaged a paltry 4 yards per clip. Ouch.
This Bears offense is a train wreck and there is little doubt that there will be new faces here next year.
Only the scope and magnitude of such changes can possibly be altered by the way the team plays the rest of the season. But it would take something extraordinary to keep the status quo.