Packers avoid costly mistakes, somehow still lose to the Bears

Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester (23) reacts after an incomplete pass during the first quarter of their NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Chicago, September 27, 2010.  REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Two turnovers, 18 penalties (for 152 yards), horrendous special teams play and poor ball security late in the game were just some of the things the Packers accomplished in their 20-17 loss to the Bears on Monday night.

If I didn’t know better, I would have thought Green Bay wanted to lose tonight.

It was undisciplined football at its best and yet, the Pack still had an opportunity to win the game in the end as long as they continued to move the ball down field (as they had done for most of the night) and not turn it over. But with just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the scored tied 17-17, Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs knocked the ball out of receiver James Jones’ grasp after a short reception. Then, by the grace of George Halas himself, somehow the ball tight roped down the sideline and Chicago cornerback Tim Jennings was able to recover it at the Green Bay 38.

Thanks to a holding penalty, the Bears were backed up to their own 44-yard line, but soon thereafter Jay Cutler made an outstanding throw to Greg Olsen, who made an even better catch for a 21-yard gain down to the Green Bay 35. Two plays later, Morgan Burnett was called for molesting Earl Bennett on a pass interference penalty and the ball was moved inside the 10-yard line. Four plays later Robbie Gould kicked the 19-yard game-winner to propel Chicago to victory.

You may not witness an uglier loss by a Super Bowl contender all season. And not all the ugliness was due to the players either, as the Green Bay coaching staff shares in the misery too.

Why didn’t the Packers instruct punter Tim Masthay to kick the ball away from Devin Hester? He sent a bullet at him late in the second quarter and Hester almost broke it for a touchdown. Then, with his team only up a field goal early in the fourth quarter, the genius once again tempts fate by kicking it straight to Hester, who promptly returns it 62-yards for the go-ahead score.

I realize Hester isn’t the same returner he was earlier in his career, but he’s still Devin Hester. He’s still dangerous with the ball in his hands and I don’t see what the point was in kicking it to him the second time after he nearly brought one back earlier in the game.

Did Masthay have money on the Bears tonight? Because that would make sense. Kicking it to Devin Hester twice in a close game doesn’t make sense.

The Bears are now the only 3-0 team remaining in the NFC. There is no such thing as ugly victories in the NFL and although it certainly wasn’t a clean game from Chicago’s perspective, Urlacher, Briggs and Julius Peppers played their asses off tonight. Part of the reason the Packers tallied so many penalties was because they had no answer for Peppers, who failed to record a sack but who lived in Green Bay’s backfield and who also managed to block a field goal. The stat sheet doesn’t show it, but he was an absolute beast tonight.

Cutler still made some atrocious decisions, but he made plays when it mattered most. The throw to Olsen on the game-winning drive was perfect and allowed the Bears to pick up a huge first down. He also threw a touchdown pass to Olsen right before halftime that was a millisecond away from being knocked away by a defender. There are only a handful of quarterbacks that could have made that throw and Cutler is one of them.

The Packers will eventually bounce back from this and they’ll get the Bears on their home field later in the year. But for now, the only thing that’s important for Mike McCarthy and company is having amnesia and moving on quickly.

There’s no point in watching the game film from this one.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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