Re-Focused: Week 17, Bears at Packers

| January 4, 2011

The NFL’s oldest rivalry had another classic game that didn’t disappoint. The Bears had nothing in terms of playoff seeding to play for, and there were whispers that they might sit some players, but the Bears still played hard the entire game.

It was a defensive struggle, but the Packers were able to have a drive with a few long passes which led to a touchdown. The Bears saw some success early on in the offense, but couldn’t convert that success into points. Later the Packers found a pass rush that has been missing for most of the season, and prevented Chicago from coming back which pushed the Packers into the playoffs.

Packers: Three performances of note

Throughout this season, cornerback Charles Woodson (+4.2) has been criticized for regressing from last year, but in this game he played like he did in 2009. He was asked to rush the QB 16 times, which is a bit more than usual. This did a good job of disrupting the Bears offense and making sure the Bears didn’t score any points in the second half. He was thrown at twice, and only allowed 15 yards on those two catches.

On offense it was the heroics of receiver Greg Jennings (+1.3) that led to the Packers one touchdown in the game. For most of the game he was shut down by Tim Jennings, only catching two of the seven balls thrown at him when Jennings was covering him. However it was when Jennings was covered by backup Zackary Bowman that Jennings had his 46-yard catch which was followed up by the touchdown.

Inside linebacker A.J. Hawk (+1.5) has stepped up these past two weeks in the Packers’ must-win games. He was also rushing more often than usual where he had a sack and pressure. Where he especially found success was in coverage. Although he allowed every ball thrown his way to get caught, on most of the plays they were ether for no gain or just a short gain. The Packers hope Hawk can keep up this success through their playoff run.

Bears: Three performances of note

Quarterback Jay Cutler (-2.9) had been on fire in recent weeks, but this week he did not play his best football. With all of the blitzing, you would expect him to make his mistakes then, but it was actually when there was no pressure at all. He completed 15 of 32 passes when there was no pressure for just 106 yards and two interceptions.

Receiver Johnny Knox (-2.9) has emerged as the Bears’ top receiver this season, but in this game he didn’t find the success he has found in others. He was thrown at eight times and didn’t have a single catch. Although at times he was covered by the Packers’ star cornerbacks, for three of those throws he was covered by rookie Sam Shields and still couldn’t get a catch. His lack of contribution to the offense really hurt.

While a few players didn’t play as well as usual, the defense for the most part played well. Cornerback Charles Tillman (+4.0) especially was successful. He was in for the majority of the game, and the Packers did what they could to avoid him. He allowed one catch for just two yards and also had an interception. If Tillman can keep up this success, him and Tim Jennings make a scary pair of cornerbacks heading into the playoffs.

Rookie report

This was the third game for Packers HB James Starks (+1.1), and he again showed he may be the best rushing option for the Packers with five runs for 20 yards. TE Andrew Quarless (-1.8) continued his struggles with run blocking and for the second straight game didn’t impact the passing game. RT Bryan Bulaga (-1.5) had possible his best game pass blocking, and one of his best run blocking, but really hurt some drives with four penalties. CB Sam Shields (+1.4) has become more impressive as the season has gone on, only allowing a catch for 16 yards.

RT J’Marcus Webb (-0.4) of the Bears had one of his better games in run blocking, but also allowed a sack and three pressures. DE Corey Wooten (-0.5) and FS Major Wright (-0.9) both saw less snaps then they had been seeing in recent weeks, which meant nether made that much of an impact in the game.

Random note

The Packers defense had more sacks on the Bears offense (6) than the Bears defense had overall pressures (5) on the Packers offense.

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