The Bears’ 35-16 loss to the Packers in the final week of the regular season was the first time since 2014 Chicago lost by more than 10 points to Green Bay at Soldier Field.
Despite the Packers adding another blowout to their win column in this historic rivalry, plenty of Bears fans on social media thought their beloved team played better than what the final score indicated.
Well, not only is that wrong, but the Bears were lucky they only lost by 19 points on Sunday.
Some fans mentioned if the Bears offense scored more than one touchdown on their five red zone trips, then possibly the result would’ve been different. Others brought up that Aaron Rodgers should’ve been intercepted three times throughout the game. And finally there were people who said Rodgers’ touchdown pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling shouldn’t have counted because it appeared the play clock had expired.
Of those three things that were mentioned, only one has some (if any) legitimacy: the pass to Valdes-Scantling. On the 72-yard touchdown in the second quarter, it does look as if Packers center Corey Linsley is late with the snap, but it was close.
— NFL (@NFL) January 3, 2021
As for the Bears’ red zone woes and the “should’ve been” interceptions, those are both areas the Bears have struggled with all season and — for the most part — since Ryan Pace took over as general manager in 2015.
Outside of the miracle 2018 season and, surprisingly, 2017 season, the Bears have ranked towards the bottom of the league in red zone offense. However, it did improve drastically once Mitch Trubisky was renamed the starter in Week 12, scoring touchdowns on 64.3% of the red zone trips, which would have finished seventh in the NFL during the regular season.
But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know Chicago’s success benefited from playing some of the worst defenses in the league during that six-game stretch. From Weeks 1-11, the Bears had a 48.1% red zone offense, and that would put them at 30th to end the season.
And it’s clear the dominant defense that led the league in interceptions in Matt Nagy’s first year as coach was an anomaly. What also needs to be considered is the players who could’ve potentially intercepted Rodgers: Eddie Jackson, Barkevious Mingo and Kindle Vildor. Jackson hasn’t had an interception all season and failed to convert on an identical play in the game against the Texans.
This #Bears season has had plenty of strange things happen, but Eddie Jackson not having one INT is up there on my list. For whatever reason, he just isn't finishing plays like we have seen in the past. Jackson's could've been INT vs. GB looked very similar to the one vs. HOU. pic.twitter.com/kdWgegDwYf
— Nicholas Moreano (@NicholasMoreano) January 5, 2021
Then there is Mingo, who has one interception in his eight years in the league, and Vildor — a 2020 fifth-round draft pick.
It’s also worth mentioning how Rodgers has done historically against the Bears. In 25 games, Rodgers has thrown 55 touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions. Only two times has Rodgers had a multi-interception game, with the last one coming in the NFC Championship in 2011, so possibly getting three interceptions in Sunday’s game was completely out of the question.
The Packers also had some mistakes of their own that kept the Bears around until the start of the fourth quarter.
It started with Tavon Austin’s fumble in the second quarter after the Packers forced the Bears to punt from their own side of the field. Demetrius Harris’ routine tackle on Austin took an opportunity away from Rodgers, who was perfect on the Packers’ first possession, completing all five of his passes on the 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive.
There was also a missed opportunity from the Packers defense when Kevin King failed to intercept Mitch Trubisky’s pass in the left corner of the end zone as the second quarter was coming to a close. Unlike Rodgers, Trubisky has a tendency to throw inexcusable interceptions and has done so frequently against Green Bay. In seven games, Trubisky has seven touchdowns and six interceptions.
Instead of an interception the Bears scored a field goal at the end of the half and made it a 21-13 game.
The final mistake happened on the first drive of the third quarter. Valdes-Scantling, who scored a 72-yard touchdown earlier in the game, dropped what should’ve been a 53-yard score on first down. Valdes-Scantling separated from Duke Shelley on his vertical route but let the ball fall right through his hands.
Khalil Mack sacked Rodgers on the next play, and then after an incomplete pass to Equanimeous St. Brown on third down, the Packers punted.
In the two games against the Packers this season, the Bears have lost by a combined 35 points and, honestly, that margin should be more.
This latest smackdown showed the Bears’ true colors and proved the gap between Chicago and Green Bay is as large as it has ever been.