Green Bay 23 Chicago 10
GREEN BAY, Wis. — On a night when defences dominated the NFL’s most storied rivalry, the Packers got creative — and it worked.
Punter Tim Masthay and backup tight end Tom Crabtree combined for a touchdown on a fake field goal in the second quarter, and the Green Bay Packers rattled and robbed Jay Cutler in a 23-10 victory over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Thursday.
Cutler threw four interceptions, including a pair to Tramon Williams. Facing a fierce Packers pass rush all night, Cutler was sacked seven times, including 3 1/2 for Clay Matthews.
New Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall was held to two catches for 24 yards.
“Clay was incredible,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Defence causing turnovers, if they play like this we’re going to be hard to beat.”
The Bears also lost running back Matt Forte to an ankle injury.
After Williams collected his second interception, Rodgers finally found the end zone in the fourth quarter, hitting Donald Driver for a 26-yard touchdown and a 23-3 lead.
Driver, who barely played in the Packers’ season-opening loss to San Francisco, did a celebratory dance in the end zone, recalling his stint on the “Dancing With the Stars” reality television show.
But Rodgers threw an interception to Tim Jennings and the Bears finally cashed in. Facing fourth-and-7 at the Green Bay 21, Cutler threw a touchdown to Kellen Davis, cutting the lead to 23-10 with 6:49 remaining. But the Bears couldn’t mount a comeback as Matthews and the Packers kept turning up the heat.
Rodgers finished the game 22 of 32 for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
He got roughed up, too, getting sacked five times. Green Bay got a scare when the NFL MVP appeared to hurt his right arm early in the game, but he stayed in.
Cutler was 11 for 27 for 126 yards.
Earlier in the week, a confident Cutler wished the Packers’ defensive backs “good luck” in trying to match up physically with a new-look wide receiver corps led by Marshall. Stalked by Williams for much of the night, Marshall didn’t see much of the ball. And he couldn’t convert his one big opportunity, dropping a potential touchdown in the third quarter.
Forte provided much of what little offence the Bears could muster before leaving the game in the third. He appeared to twist his right ankle while being tackled by Charles Woodson.
Mason Crosby hit three field goals for Green Bay, including a 54-yarder in the fourth quarter.
The biggest play of the night, though, came from the unlikely tandem of Masthay and Crabtree.
With the Packers facing fourth-and-26 on the Chicago 27 late in the second quarter, Masthay, the punter who also functions as the holder on field goals, and Crosby appeared to line up for a field goal attempt.
But Masthay took the snap and flipped the ball to Crabtree, who ran through a huge hole and streaked all the way to the end zone.
“That’s a gutsy call,” Rodgers said. “It worked out.”
Cutler then threw an interception to Williams near midfield with just over a minute left and the play was upheld on a replay review, giving the Packers one last chance to score. Rodgers marched the Packers into scoring range, and Crosby hit a 35-yard field goal.
Cutler then threw his second interception of the night late in the third, this time to Woodson, and the Packers appeared poised to score when Charles Tillman punched the ball away from Jermichael Finley and recovered the ball for the Bears.
Marshall missed a huge opportunity earlier in the third, when Cutler found him streaking wide open in the end zone — but the wide receiver couldn’t haul it in, and the Bears had to settle for a 45-yard field goal by Robbie Gould that cut the lead to 13-3.
The Packers were coming off a 30-22 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Green Bay struggled to stop the 49ers’ balanced offence and came into a short week of preparation still looking for answers in the secondary.
On offence, the 49ers’ dominant defence held the Packers to seven points in the first three quarters before a late rally attempt came up short.
Chicago came into the season with high expectations for a beefed-up passing attack, and the arrival of Marshall was a hit right away. Renewing his partnership with Cutler from their days in Denver, Marshall caught nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown and the Bears put up 41 points in their season-opening victory over Indianapolis.
NOTES: Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings was inactive with a groin injury. … Tillman played despite a shin injury, and Brian Urlacher played his second straight game after having knee surgery during training camp. … Thursday’s attendance was 70,543.