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Winners And Losers From Packers’ Memorable Win Over Chicago


Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw three second-half touchdown passes on one good leg to lead the Packers past the Bears, 24-23. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Sept. 9, 2018, will now and forever be remembered as the Aaron Rodgers Comeback Game.

The Packers trailed Chicago, 17-0, in their season opener. Rodgers, Green Bay’s two-time MVP quarterback, left the game on a cart in the second quarter.

Forget the fact the Packers seemed destined to lose to their archrival to the south. Green Bay’s season appeared over almost as soon as it began.

But Rodgers came back and played through a painful left knee injury, leading the Packers on one of the most memorable comebacks in team history.

Rodgers completed 17-of-23 second-half passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns on one good leg. And his heroics helped Green Bay rally for an improbable 24-23 win on opening night.

“Aaron Rodgers was remarkable,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said afterward. “I just can’t tell you how proud I am of him.”

Wideout Randall Cobb agreed.

“That guy’s a warrior,” Cobb said. “He goes out, and he competes, and he fights, and he gives everything he has, every opportunity he can. I love seeing the fact that he came back out there and played the way that he did in the second half.”

While Rodgers and the Packers were big winners, there were several others who had a huge hand in the outcome — both good and bad. Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Sunday.

Winner: WR Randall Cobb

The Packers’ diminutive wide receiver was left for dead by many after the 2017 season. Cobb’s numbers have been on the decline, and he was rumored to be on the trading block this summer.

But Cobb’s game-winning, 75-yard touchdown catch was the longest of his career. And he finished the night with a career-high 142 receiving yards.

“I love Randall,” Rodgers said. “He is such a great player. Comes up with big plays. Tough guy. Fun to see him get the go-ahead touchdown.”

Loser: OLB Clay Matthews

Matthews had the quietest of nights with just one tackle. The only impact play Matthews made came in the final two minutes when he was penalized 15 yards for roughing Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky on a fourth-down pass that had fallen incomplete.

Instead of Green Bay taking over, Chicago was given new life. Fortunately for Matthews, the Packers’ defense stiffened again, and Green Bay escaped.

“I’m really kind of beating myself up over that,” Matthews said of his late-game penalty. “Because that’s not a mistake that I generally make, especially on fourth down.

“I think last year they might’ve given me a nice warning, but it’s changing this year. I had my iPad charged and ready to turn in tomorrow to (general manager Brian Gutekunst).

Winner: Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine

Pettine, in his first year running Green Bay’s defense, got a terrific performance from his unit. After the Packers allowed 10 points on the Bears’ first two possessions, they gave up just 6 points the rest of the night.

Chicago’s only touchdown after its first drive came when Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack intercepted a DeShone Kizer pass just before halftime and returned it for a score.

“They 100% kept us in the game,” Rodgers said of Green Bay’s defense. “They were fantastic. They have gotten a bad rap at times, but I thought they played really well tonight.

“(They) gave up 16 points. You should win games when a defense is giving up 16 points in this league. I know they expect us to score at least 17. I’m proud of them. Mike Pettine is a phenomenal coach, and we’re going to, I’m sure, have some good film to look at. When we had to have it tonight, we made plays.”

Loser: QB DeShone Kizer

Kizer, the Packers’ No. 2 quarterback, took 14 snaps after Rodgers left the game. Amazingly, two of those resulted in turnovers, including one that went for a touchdown.

Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack sacked Kizer on one play and in the process took the ball right out of his hands. Later, Kizer tried throwing a screen pass to running back Ty Montgomery, but Mack intercepted and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown.

“Well, it’s a learning experience,” McCarthy said of Kizer. “Frankly, I mean, we have to take care of the football. That’s from Day 1. Our turnover ratio in our history here speaks for itself. And we’re minus-two right now. That’s the one big negative to come out of this game.”

Winner: WR Geronimo Allison

Allison was a forgotten man for much of last year. But his five catches Sunday were the second-most of his career, and his 69 receiving yards represented his third-highest total ever.

Allison’s 39-yard touchdown reception with 13:59 remaining also closed the Packers’ deficit to 20-10 and woke up the Lambeau Field faithful.

“The protection was good, and when I came back to it, it looked like Geronimo was in good position if I put a good ball in that area,” Rodgers said of his touchdown pass to Allison. “Watching the replay back, he does a great job with his hands kind of chopping that arm off on a contested catch. Big play for us.”

Loser: Packers tight ends

Green Bay felt it had assembled its best core of tight ends in many years for this season. Instead, the Packers got little production out of the group.

In all, the Packers’ tight ends combined for three catches and 21 yards. The high-priced free-agent acquisition Jimmy Graham had two catches for eight yards, and veteran Lance Kendricks had one catch for 13 yards.

“It was really more the way the game went,” McCarthy said. “We actually had a no-huddle package with our tight ends that we had to file away. Our second series, first down, we just never got back to it, especially after Aaron got hurt.”

Winner: Green Bay’s cornerbacks

The Packers invested heavily in their cornerback group this offseason, signing veterans Tramon Williams and Davon House in free agency and selecting Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson in the first two rounds of April’s draft. So far, so good.

Green Bay’s corners held up extremely well against Chicago’s high-priced free-agent wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. The pair combined for nine catches and 86 yards, and Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky finished with a passer rating of 77.2.

Losers: RT Bryan Bulaga and RG Justin McCray

Yes, this duo — and Green Bay’s entire offensive line — played much better in the second half as the Packers rallied to win. But the pair was dreadful in the first half as Chicago built a 17-0 lead.

McCray had two holding penalties and allowed a sack/fumble in the first half. And Bulaga was dominated by both Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks and outside linebacker Khalil Mack.

With Rodgers playing on one leg, Green Bay went to the shotgun or pistol the entire second half to help its linemen. But the early play of Bulaga and McCray gives cause for concern moving forward.

“We let them make too many big plays down the stretch, and you can’t have that,” Mack said. “They did a lot of quick passes and quick throws. They mixed it up. We need to put more pressure on the quarterback.”

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Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw three second-half touchdown passes on one good leg to lead the Packers past the Bears, 24-23. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Sept. 9, 2018, will now and forever be remembered as the Aaron Rodgers Comeback Game.

The Packers trailed Chicago, 17-0, in their season opener. Rodgers, Green Bay’s two-time MVP quarterback, left the game on a cart in the second quarter.

Forget the fact the Packers seemed destined to lose to their archrival to the south. Green Bay’s season appeared over almost as soon as it began.

But Rodgers came back and played through a painful left knee injury, leading the Packers on one of the most memorable comebacks in team history.

Rodgers completed 17-of-23 second-half passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns on one good leg. And his heroics helped Green Bay rally for an improbable 24-23 win on opening night.

“Aaron Rodgers was remarkable,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said afterward. “I just can’t tell you how proud I am of him.”

Wideout Randall Cobb agreed.

“That guy’s a warrior,” Cobb said. “He goes out, and he competes, and he fights, and he gives everything he has, every opportunity he can. I love seeing the fact that he came back out there and played the way that he did in the second half.”

While Rodgers and the Packers were big winners, there were several others who had a huge hand in the outcome — both good and bad. Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Sunday.

Winner: WR Randall Cobb

The Packers’ diminutive wide receiver was left for dead by many after the 2017 season. Cobb’s numbers have been on the decline, and he was rumored to be on the trading block this summer.

But Cobb’s game-winning, 75-yard touchdown catch was the longest of his career. And he finished the night with a career-high 142 receiving yards.

“I love Randall,” Rodgers said. “He is such a great player. Comes up with big plays. Tough guy. Fun to see him get the go-ahead touchdown.”

Loser: OLB Clay Matthews

Matthews had the quietest of nights with just one tackle. The only impact play Matthews made came in the final two minutes when he was penalized 15 yards for roughing Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky on a fourth-down pass that had fallen incomplete.

Instead of Green Bay taking over, Chicago was given new life. Fortunately for Matthews, the Packers’ defense stiffened again, and Green Bay escaped.

“I’m really kind of beating myself up over that,” Matthews said of his late-game penalty. “Because that’s not a mistake that I generally make, especially on fourth down.

“I think last year they might’ve given me a nice warning, but it’s changing this year. I had my iPad charged and ready to turn in tomorrow to (general manager Brian Gutekunst).

Winner: Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine

Pettine, in his first year running Green Bay’s defense, got a terrific performance from his unit. After the Packers allowed 10 points on the Bears’ first two possessions, they gave up just 6 points the rest of the night.

Chicago’s only touchdown after its first drive came when Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack intercepted a DeShone Kizer pass just before halftime and returned it for a score.

“They 100% kept us in the game,” Rodgers said of Green Bay’s defense. “They were fantastic. They have gotten a bad rap at times, but I thought they played really well tonight.

“(They) gave up 16 points. You should win games when a defense is giving up 16 points in this league. I know they expect us to score at least 17. I’m proud of them. Mike Pettine is a phenomenal coach, and we’re going to, I’m sure, have some good film to look at. When we had to have it tonight, we made plays.”

Loser: QB DeShone Kizer

Kizer, the Packers’ No. 2 quarterback, took 14 snaps after Rodgers left the game. Amazingly, two of those resulted in turnovers, including one that went for a touchdown.

Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack sacked Kizer on one play and in the process took the ball right out of his hands. Later, Kizer tried throwing a screen pass to running back Ty Montgomery, but Mack intercepted and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown.

“Well, it’s a learning experience,” McCarthy said of Kizer. “Frankly, I mean, we have to take care of the football. That’s from Day 1. Our turnover ratio in our history here speaks for itself. And we’re minus-two right now. That’s the one big negative to come out of this game.”

Winner: WR Geronimo Allison

Allison was a forgotten man for much of last year. But his five catches Sunday were the second-most of his career, and his 69 receiving yards represented his third-highest total ever.

Allison’s 39-yard touchdown reception with 13:59 remaining also closed the Packers’ deficit to 20-10 and woke up the Lambeau Field faithful.

“The protection was good, and when I came back to it, it looked like Geronimo was in good position if I put a good ball in that area,” Rodgers said of his touchdown pass to Allison. “Watching the replay back, he does a great job with his hands kind of chopping that arm off on a contested catch. Big play for us.”

Loser: Packers tight ends

Green Bay felt it had assembled its best core of tight ends in many years for this season. Instead, the Packers got little production out of the group.

In all, the Packers’ tight ends combined for three catches and 21 yards. The high-priced free-agent acquisition Jimmy Graham had two catches for eight yards, and veteran Lance Kendricks had one catch for 13 yards.

“It was really more the way the game went,” McCarthy said. “We actually had a no-huddle package with our tight ends that we had to file away. Our second series, first down, we just never got back to it, especially after Aaron got hurt.”

Winner: Green Bay’s cornerbacks

The Packers invested heavily in their cornerback group this offseason, signing veterans Tramon Williams and Davon House in free agency and selecting Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson in the first two rounds of April’s draft. So far, so good.

Green Bay’s corners held up extremely well against Chicago’s high-priced free-agent wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. The pair combined for nine catches and 86 yards, and Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky finished with a passer rating of 77.2.

Losers: RT Bryan Bulaga and RG Justin McCray

Yes, this duo — and Green Bay’s entire offensive line — played much better in the second half as the Packers rallied to win. But the pair was dreadful in the first half as Chicago built a 17-0 lead.

McCray had two holding penalties and allowed a sack/fumble in the first half. And Bulaga was dominated by both Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks and outside linebacker Khalil Mack.

With Rodgers playing on one leg, Green Bay went to the shotgun or pistol the entire second half to help its linemen. But the early play of Bulaga and McCray gives cause for concern moving forward.

“We let them make too many big plays down the stretch, and you can’t have that,” Mack said. “They did a lot of quick passes and quick throws. They mixed it up. We need to put more pressure on the quarterback.”

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