The Green Bay Packers got a strong game from their defense and great performances by Jordan Love, Aaron Jones, and Jayden Reed to beat the Chicago Bears 17-9. The win gave the Packers a 9-8 record for the season and earned them a playoff berth despite having the youngest roster in the NFL. The Packers will face the Dallas Cowboys next week in Dallas. Here are 10 things we learned from the Packers 17-9 win over the Bears.
First Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: Jordan Love Came Through in the Clutch
Love enjoyed another strong performance in this must-win game. In fact, he had the highest quarterback rating of his career with 128.6. He completed 27-of-32 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
He read defenses extremely well and threw some accurate passes into tight windows in key situations. The Packers were 7-of-10 on third downs in this game which meant when plays needed to be made to keep drives alive, Love got them done.
The one big mistake Love made in this game was a fumble on a scramble that the Bears recovered early in the fourth quarter. Chicago kicked a field goal, and the score was 14-9. But on the next drive, Love took the Packers downfield and responded with a 65-yard drive that culminated in a field goal and ended the scoring for the game.
Love kept his cool, made the right reads and threw the ball accurately. He is rapidly maturing into a very good NFL quarterback.
Second Thing We Learned: Aaron Jones Is a Difference Maker
When Jones gains 100 yards or more, the Packers generally win. Jones gained 111 yards on 22 carries for a five-yard average. He also caught five passes for 30 more yards.
Jones may be “old” for a running back, but when he’s healthy, he gives the Green Bay offense a spark that was lacking when he was out of the lineup. Jones changes the way defenses have to play the Packers when he’s in the lineup.
He now has three consecutive 100-plus yard games and the Packers won all of them to earn a playoff berth. That’s not a coincidence. Jones is the spark plug for this offense and they are a better team when he’s healthy and doing his thing.
How much trust to head coach Matt LaFleur have in Jones? With the season on the line, no other Packers running back touched the ball against the Bears.
Third Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: The Defense Did Its Job on Third Down
While Green Bay’s offense was 7-of-10 on third down tries, the Packers defense made sure the Bears weren’t nearly as efficient.
Chicago had 11 chances on third down and converted only three of them for a 27.3 percent success rate.
Joe Barry’s players also managed to keep the Bears out of the end zone for the entire game and held Chicago to 192 net yards compared to 432 for the Packers.
The Packers defense did their job and contributed to the team’s success in this must-win game.
Fourth Thing We Learned: Special Teams Remains an Issue
While the offense and the defense played well, Packers special teams remains an area of concern.
Kicker Anders Carlson missed a 41-yard field goal try on the Packers first drive that would have tied the game at 3-3.
On punt returns, Reed twice signaled for a fair catch inside the Packers 10-yard line which is where returners are instructed to let the ball bounce into the end zone for a likely touchback. Instead, the Packers started deep in their own territory.
The Packers also allowed Chicago kick returner Velus Jones, Jr. to average 28.3-yards per runback. Jones consistently gave Chicago field position beyond the 25 where they would have started drives on touchbacks.
While this wasn’t a disastrous performance, special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia has some work to do before the playoffs start.
Fifth Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: The Receivers Made Plays
Reed led the way with 112 receiving yards on four catches including a game-high 59-yard catch in the second half and a 32-yard effort in the first half.
Love spread the ball around and kept the Bears defense guessing as to who would be his next target.
Sixth Thing We Learned: The Packers Run Defense Shut Down the Bears
The Packers run defense has been much-maligned this season and often with good cause. But against Chicago, the run defense played well.
Despite having one of the best running quarterbacks in the game in the lineup and the fact that the score was close throughout, the Bears gained only 75 yards rushing on 25 carries as a team. That’s a 3.0-yard average per rush. Fields gained just 27 yards on eight attempts. The long run of the game for the Bears was just nine yards.
The run defense was also disciplined and kept contain by staying in their lanes for most of the game.
Seventh Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: The Pass Rush Got Pressure
The Packers defense got good pressure on Fields throughout the game. Officially, the Packers had five sacks and five quarterback hits in this game. One apparent sack by Rashan Gary was later ruled a running play and became a tackle for loss.
Remember, Fields only attempted 16 passes in this game so to get five sacks and five hits in this game shows how consistently Fields had to deal with the pass rush.
Five different players also recorded the quarterback hits. By spreading out the wealth, the defense makes it harder for opposing offenses to prepare for the Packers pass rush.
Eighth Thing We Learned: DJ Moore Was Not a Major Factor in the Game
They did a good job of limiting the effectiveness of Chicago’s best receiver, DJ Moore. Moore caught four passes on six targets for 64 yards. He did connect on a 33-yard pass late in the first half that helped set up a Bears field goal, but other than that his other three catches gained only 31 yards and he was not a major factor in the game.
The Packers secondary did a good job of limiting Moore’s effectiveness and did not allow him to make many big plays.
Ninth Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: The Moment Was Not Too Big for this Young Team
The Packers were the youngest team in the NFL but that didn’t stop them from winning a must-win game.
Yes, the offense left points on the field with the missed field goal in the first quarter. They also could have managed the clock better before halftime and put some more points on the board.
But overall, the offense and defense both excelled on third downs and there was never a point where you felt the game was getting away from this team.
The Packers matured significantly in the second half of the season, and they were able to win their last three games with their backs against the wall and clinch a playoff berth. A year ago, a more experienced, veteran roster failed to win in similar circumstances.
Tenth Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: The Playoffs Await
The Packers have finished their 17-game schedule, but the season isn’t over. They will head to Dallas on Sunday at 4:30 ET, 3:30 CT, to face the Cowboys.
At this point, the Packers are playing with house money. All the pressure will be on Dallas. They will also face former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy who is now helming the Cowboys.
Win or lose, this young team should get valuable playoff experience on Sunday in Dallas. They have already exceeded most people’s expectations for this season.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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