The Green Bay Packers’ defense hasn’t looked this good in a long time.
In a Thursday night beatdown of the Bears, the Packers’ defense was outstanding, pressuring Jay Cutler all night and leading the way in a 23-10 victory. The Packers intercepted Cutler four times, sacked him seven times, and generally made his life miserable. The Bears’ offense looked ugly.
Both teams are now 1-1 and tied up in an NFC North that looks like it should be one of the NFL’s more competitive divisions.
For the Packers, this was about as close to a must-win game as it gets in Week Two: If they had lost to the Bears they would have been two games behind in the NFC North and 0-2 at home. But the Packers didn’t just win, they won with their defense playing outstanding football, and that’s something we haven’t seen much of from the Packers recently, even when they went 15-1 in 2011, and even when they won the Super Bowl after the 2010 season.
What the Packers proved on Thursday night is that they can win a game even if their offense gets off to a sluggish start: The Packers didn’t score an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter, but they controlled the game anyway.
The Packers’ pass rush was excellent, and Cutler appeared to be frustrated with his offensive line as he got drilled repeatedly. Cutler, however, was far from blameless, often failing to feel the rush coming and throwing inaccurately when he was able to get passes off. Cutler’s favorite receiver, Brandon Marshall, was a non-factor, not catching his first pass until midway through the fourth quarter.
Aaron Rodgers was, for the second game in a row, good but not great. Running back Cedric Benson, playing against his old team, was solid. And it was nice for Green Bay fans to see veteran receiver Donald Driver, who’s been largely phased out of the offense, catch a 26-yard touchdown pass.
But Thursday night was mostly about the Packers’ defense. This was the defensive effort the Packers needed.