Packers Hold Off Bears to Win Defensive Slugfest in Season Opener
Real, competitive professional football with stakes is back. Someone just forgot to tell the Packers’ and Bears’ offenses that on Thursday night.
Rather than giving us an opener worth celebrating, the two teams kicked off the NFL’s 100th season by taking us back a century with a 10–3 contest ridden with ugly play and self-destructive tendencies. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers opened their 2019 campaign with minus-17 yards on their first two drives and not a single first down by the first quarter’s end. Rodgers found Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 47-yard bomb down the middle two minutes into the second quarter to set up the only touchdown of the game––an 8-yard strike to Jimmy Graham––but Green Bay’s offense did very little after that, finishing the game just 2-of-12 on third down for a whopping 213 total yards.
Week 1 was even harsher on the Bears, whose offense was so inept it’s hard to believe this was a team that went 12–4 and won the NFC North just a year ago. There were foolish penalties. Questionable play calls. A fourth-quarter possession so putrid, the Bears went from the Packers’ 43-yard line all the way back to their own 27 to face a third-and-40.
Give Mike Pettine and the Packers' defense credit where it’s due. A dialed up, aggressive approach up-front and an offseason’s worth of acquired talent gave us our first taste of a new and revitalized unit. Pettine dared Trubisky to make a play all evening. He didn’t. Instead, he overthrew his receivers. He looked anxious in the pocket. He completed just 57.8% of his passes, converted only 20% of the team’s third downs and was picked off in the end zone by former Bears safety Adrian Amos after throwing into double coverage in an attempt to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.
It was Eddy Pineiro who gave Chicago its only points of the evening, the kicker whom the Bears finally named their starter after cutting Cody Parkey following his ''double-doink'' field goal miss of 43 yards in their 16–15 playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last season. The 23-year-old connected on his first career field goal from 38 yards, and he could have had another one had Matt Nagy decided to attempt a 50-yarder to bring the Bears within one point of the Packers in the third quarter. Instead, Nagy opted to go for it on fourth-and-10, which the offense failed to convert.
Luckily, both teams have a long week ahead before they have to play real football again. Let’s just hope––for everyone’s sake––they find their offenses next time.
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