If defense wins championships, count the Bears and Packers as contenders.
Of course, it’s a 16-game season, so there’s a long way to go yet.
But the Bears and Packers combined for 467 yards, 10 sacks, a turnover, 20 penalties, 17 punts and 13 points. Green Bay’s 10-3 victory should leave the Vikings and Lions feeling as good as the Packers on Thursday.
If it seemed more like the fifth preseason game, well, perhaps it was because of limited preseason snaps for both offenses.
Aaron Rodgers didn’t play at all in the exhibition season, and Mitchell Trubisky handed off the ball three times. In the season opener, Rodgers went 18-of-30 for 203 yards and the game’s only touchdown, an 8-yard throw to tight end Jimmy Graham early in the second quarter. Trubisky was 26-of-45 for 228 yards and an interception.
Here are six more things we learned during Thursday Night Football:
1. Adrian Amos played the part of hero.
The Bears drafted Amos in the fifth round in 2015. He became a four-year starter and made 269 tackles, 18 pass breakups, three interceptions, a pick-six and three forced fumbles over 60 games with the Bears.
But Chicago couldn’t afford Amos, needing to pay Eddie Jackson, so Amos left for a four-year, $36 million deal with the Packers. He paid dividends for the Packers and came back to haunt the Bears.
With the Bears threatening to score the game-tying touchdown, facing a third-and-10 at the Green Bay 9-yard line, Amos intercepted Trubisky in the end zone on a pass intended for Allen Robinson with two minutes remaining in the game.
It saved the day for the Packers, who also had five sacks of Trubisky as their remade defense came to play.
2. The Bears defense still is really good.
Even without Khalil Mack getting even a quarterback hit, the Bears got after Rodgers. Leonard Floyd had two sacks and Roy Robertson-Harris, Aaron Lynch and Akiem Hicks all had one. Mack finished with five tackles, including one for loss.
Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari, one of the best in the game, had only two holding penalties last season. He had two on one third-quarter possession against the Bears.
3. Rodgers and new coach Matt LaFleur need time together.
LaFleur said earlier this week that he would “have a better answer for you here in a couple weeks about where I think we are.”
The Packers offense is a work in progress, with Rodgers and LaFleur still feeling out each other’s preferences and tendencies.
Green Bay gained only 213 yards, averaging 3.7 yards per play.
4. The Bears believe they have their kicker, but they will need more time and more kicks before they know for sure.
Eddy Pineiro, acquired in a May trade with the Raiders for a conditional 2021 seventh-round pick, made his only field goal. But it was only 38 yards, and it came in the first quarter.
The Bears had a chance to try a 51-yarder with 3:54 remaining in the third quarter but elected to leave the offense on the field on fourth-and-10. Trubisky scrambled for a 3-yard gain, with the Bears turning the ball over on downs.
Pineiro won the team’s kicking competition, finishing the 2019 preseason connecting on 8-of-9 field goals, including a 58-yarder against the Colts, and missing one of his four extra points tries.
5. Robinson looks primed for a big season.
He ended last season with 10 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown in the playoff loss to the Eagles in January. He opened this season with seven catches for 102 yards.
Robinson has become exactly the No. 1 receiver the Bears expected when they signed him to a three-year, $42 million deal during the 2018 offseason despite Robinson coming off an ACL tear in the 2017 season opener. Their patience is paying off.
6. Will Al Riveron ever overturn a pass interference call on the field? He hasn’t yet.
In preseason, the NFL’s supervisor of officials reviewed 15 pass interference calls on the field that were challenged. Riveron overturned none of them.
Riveron has said it has to be “clear and obvious” for him to overturn pass interference called on the field.
The first challenge of the regular season came with 13:44 left in the fourth quarter. LaFleur threw his flag on a 15-yard catch by Taylor Gabriel, arguing the Bears receiver pushed off Jaire Alexander.
The ruling on the field stood.