When the Bears upset San Francisco at Soldier Field in the season opener, they stuck to their guns and made few — if any — mental mistakes.
Head coach Matt Eberflus’ squad wore the Niners down, took advantage of a couple of busted coverages and emerged with a 19-10 victory.
Emboldened by that unlikely victory, defensive end Trevis Gipson had no problem predicting a victory at Green Bay on Sunday, saying: “We gonna win. You got my word.”
Gipson did his part by sacking Aaron Rodgers twice in the first half, but the Bears made too many mistakes, failed to contain Packers RB Aaron Jones and ended up losing in Green Bay, 27-10.
In the first 30 minutes alone, Jones steamrolled his way to 92 yards on 10 touches and scored two TDs as the Packers (1-1) built a 24-7 lead. Rodgers was sharp as well, throwing for 164 yards.
Credit the Bears for not going away, though. They hung around in the second half and could have cut the lead to 24-17 if they’d converted on fourth-and-short from inside the 1-yard line with 8:13 remaining. Instead, Justin Fields — who took the snap out of the shotgun — was stopped on a keeper just inches short of the goal line.
Eberflus challenged, but the result held up after a long video review.
“We felt we had a good look — and they (the refs) didn’t have a good look at it,” Eberflus told WBBM 780-AM. “That’s what they told me and you’ve got to take it for what it is. That’s the way it goes. ...
“But man, that would have been a big swing in the game right there.”
Green Bay then iced the victory with a nine-play, 89-yard drive that ended with a 28-yard field goal.
Jones finished with 132 yards on 15 carries and added 38 more yards on three receptions. The Packers amassed 203 yards on the ground overall.
“He’s an absolute stud,” Packers QB Aaron Rodgers said of Jones. “He’s one of the toughest guys in the NFL, dripping wet at about 185 (pounds), breaking tackles all over the place. Elusive.
“And take all that away and he’s a helluva guy. Great teammate, great person. Love having him on my team.”
Rodgers (19 for 25, 234 yards, 2 TDs) is now 24-5 against the Bears.
Fields was 7-of-11 passing for 70 yards with an interception. He scored the Bears’ only TD on a 3-yard carry in the first quarter.
What we learned Sunday was that the Bears (1-1) must play near flawless football if they’re going to defeat more talented teams. And we’re not talking ONLY about mistake-free football, either.
They’ve got to be smart and take advantage of every situation.
Two glaring examples stand out from that pivotal first half:
• After Robert Quinn sacked Rodgers on third-and-10 early in the second quarter, the Bears got the ball back trailing just 10-7. On the first play, 10-year veteran TE Ryan Griffin was whistled for a false start.
That just can’t happen.
The Bears picked up 5 yards on two carries by Khalil Herbert, then faced third-and-10 from their own 20. Fields dropped back, got good protection and scanned the field.
Nobody open. Nobody open. Nobody open.
So he took off.
It looked like Fields MIGHT have been able to scramble for the first down, but he opted to throw from the 22-yard line. He was over the line of scrimmage and the Bears had to punt.
On Wednesday, I asked Fields about his philosophy when it comes to running.
“I try to not take hits at all, to be honest with you — unless game’s on the line,” said Fields, who did dive for the pylon just before that pivotal fourth-down play in the fourth quarter. “Third and short, fourth and short or we’re on the goal line — that’s really the only time that I’m taking a hit. Other than that, I’m pretty much gonna slide.”
Which is fine. But in that case, I’m thinking he should have at least tried to make a move in the open field.
• After the Bears punted, Green Bay marched to the Bears’ 24-yard line. But an offensive holding penalty and a Gipson sack made it second-and-28 from the 42-yard line. Perfect. No worse than a field goal is coming, right?
Instead, Rodgers hit rookie WR Romeo Doubs for 20 yards, then connected with veteran Randall Cobb for 9. Two plays later, Jones followed AJ Dillon into the end zone to make it 17-7.
“I believe in the team. We all believe in each other,” said WR Darnell Mooney, who has just two receptions for 4 yards on the season. “It was just, you know, a bad game. A bad game for the offense.”
David Montgomery, who had just five carries in the first half, finished with 122 yards on 15 carries. Khalil Herbert had 38 yards on four carries.
Next up for the Bears is a home game against Houston (0-1-1).