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Insider: Offense comes out hot, but defense misses Pickett badly

Dec. 26, 2011
 

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Packers-Bears postgame analysis: Rob Demovsky and Pete Dougherty look at the difference in the Packers' offense from last week's loss at Kansas City and discuss how Mike McCarthy will approach next week's game against Detroit.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley scores a touchdown between defenders Brian Urlacher (54) and Nick Roach (53) in the first quarter of Sunday night's game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette

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The big picture

The Packers wonít have to travel until the Super Bowl, if they get that far. By beating the Bears on Christmas night at Lambeau Field, they secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Thumbs up

The Packers continued their dominance early in games and at the end of halves. Their touchdown on their opening drive of the game marked the eighth time in 15 games this season that they have found the end zone on their first possession. They also have one field goal on a first possession, giving them 59 points combined on their first possessions of games. Through the first 14 games of the season, their total of 52 points on such drives led the NFL. Pittsburgh was second with 45 points, followed by Houston and New England with 44. The Packersí 52 points coming into the week was their highest since STATS began charting that category in 1995. Their touchdown with 16 seconds left in the first half gave them 58 points in the final 2 minutes of first halves this season. Entering this week, the Packers ranked second in the NFL in that category with 51 points. Only the Oakland Raiders, with 56, had more.

Thumbs down

The Packers sure miss defensive lineman Ryan Pickett, who was inactive for the second straight game because of the concussion he sustained on Dec. 11 against Oakland. Without Pickett last week at Kansas City, the Packers gave up 139 yards rushing. They almost gave up that much in the first half against the Bears. It didnít matter that Chicago was missing its top two running backs, Matt Forte and Marion Barber. Backups Kahlil Bell and Armando Allen did just fine. In the first half alone, the Bears rushed 25 times for 126 yards. Bell surpassed 100 yards in the third quarter. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers tried just about everything in his playbook to slow down the Bearsí running game, but almost nothing worked. To try to make up for losing Pickettís size inside, Capers employed his seldom-used, four-linemen package in addition to playing a mix of base, nickel and dime. And it shouldnít have been a surprise the Bears would use a run-heavy game plan considering they were playing a quarterback, Josh McCown, who was making his first start since 2007.

Play of the game

Apparently teams still canít tell when the Packers are going to take that deep shot down the field off a play-action bootleg, because the Bears became the latest defense to fall for it. Early in the third quarter, Aaron Rodgers ran the play fake to running back James Starks, then peeled off to the right. Jordy Nelson ran an out-and-up that fooled safety Major Wright and caught a 55-yard touchdown pass for a 21-10 lead.

Turning point

Nelsonís touchdown provided a quick answer to the Bearsí touchdown on the opening drive of the second half, which cut the Packersí lead to 14-10.

Did you notice?

• The Bears won the coin toss and deferred.

• Capers used his Corner Okie package, which features a third cornerback in the base defense in place of safety Charlie Peprah.

• Rookie outside linebacker Vic Soíoto got some snaps at right outside linebacker in the second half.

By the numbers

• 4: Times in 2011 the Packers have beaten the Bears. They won the 2010 regular-season finale on Jan. 2, the NFC championship game on Jan. 23 and both regular-season meetings this year (Sept. 25 at Chicago and Sunday at Lambeau Field).

• 5: Touchdown passes by Rodgers, marking the first time in his career he has thrown that many, and the first time it has been done since Brett Favre did it against Carolina on Sept. 27, 1998.

• 10,000: Yardage milestone surpassed by Donald Driver, who became the first receiver in Packers history and the 36th player in NFL history to do so.

Reach Demovsky at rdemovsk@greenbaypressgazette.com or at www.twitter.com/RobDemovsky.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports