Breaking down the Bears’ 24-17 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Soldier Field to clinch the NFC North title.
Three moments that mattered
1 Jackson’s pick: With the Packers threatening to cut the Bears’ lead to one score late in the game, Eddie Jackson picked off Aaron Rodgers in the end zone. The Packers later got a field goal in the closing seconds, but Jackson’s interception essentially sealed the Bears’ first NFC North title since 2010.
2 Cohen’s punt return: After Mitch Trubisky’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Trey Burton gave the Bears a 21-14 lead, and the defense had followed by forcing a three-and-out, Tarik Cohen returned a punt 44 yards to the Packers’ 15-yard line. The Bears settled for a field goal, but Cohen’s big return allowed the Bears to extend their lead to two scores with 6:43 remaining.
3 First-down call: After James Daniels was flagged for a false start in Green Bay territory, Matt Nagy used motion to get an inside screen to Taquan Mizzell, who gained 9 yards on first-and-15. It’s a small thing, but the call put the Bears in much better position on second down, and it eventually led to Jordan Howard giving the Bears a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Three things that worked
1 Applying pressure: Not surprisingly, the Bears once again made life difficult on an opposing quarterback. It started early with Roquan Smith getting a free run at Rodgers, which Khalil Mack cleaned up, and it ended with Leonard Floyd picking up the Bears’ fifth sack of the day.
2 Pinning the Packers deep: Part of the reason why the Packers failed to get much going offensively in the first half was because of Bears punter Pat O’Donnell, who twice placed punts inside Green Bay’s 5-yard line.
3 Allowing Trubisky to bounce back: The second-year QB wasn’t perfect, but he was much improved after last week’s three-interception meltdown against the Rams. Nagy limited the deep shots and kept Trubisky on time with quick releases to his receivers and running backs.
Three things that didn’t
1 The fake punt: There really wasn’t a need to call a fake punt midway through the third quarter given how the defense was playing, but even if you like aggressive playcalling – and we do – why run a fake with all of these offensive weapons at your disposal? Just leave the offense on the field next time.
2 Cohen’s fumble: Tied at 14 early in the fourth quarter, the Packers came through with a takeaway when Cohen fumbled while trying to pull the ball back on an exchange with Howard with Trubisky motioned out wide. There are much easier ways for the Bears to try to convert on third-and-1.
3 Limiting Davante Adams: Given how stout the Bears run defense has been all season, the Packers’ only real chance of moving the ball consistently was Rodgers finding Adams. The wideout hauled in eight catches for 119 yards and nearly snagged a Hail Mary for a touchdown to end the first half. It’s a minor gripe, but the Bears will need to focus on taking away the opposition’s biggest threat come January.
The Bears will try to lock up the NFC’s No. 3 seed next Sunday with a trip to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. A win or a Cowboys loss in either of the next two weeks will give the Bears the No. 3 seed.