The power of zero
Most consecutive regular-season games in which the Packers have held the Bears scoreless in the first quarter.
No. Years GB’s record
10 2008-12 8-2
10 1928-31 9-1
7 1964-67 6-1
6 1921-26 1-4-1
6 1932-33 1-4-1
If this were “Jeopardy,” the answer would be Roberto Garza.
The question: Who is the only offensive starter for Chicago who might recall his team scoring in the first quarter — any first quarter — of this semiannual collision of bodies known as Packers-Bears.
Green Bay clinched its second consecutive NFC North Division title by frustrating the Bears 21-13 at Soldier Field. Chicago scored points in every quarter but the first in falling to the Packers for the eighth time in the last 10 regular-season meetings between the two.
Rivalries produce streaks. The Packers have gone six straight in the regular-season series without a 100-yard rusher. The Bears have thrown at least one interception in each of the last nine regular-season meetings.
Sunday, the Packers equaled an accomplishment last seen during the days of George Trafton, Laurie Walquist, Verne Lewellen and Lavvie Dilweg (1928-31). They shut out the Bears in the first quarter for a 10th straight time.
In a number of ways, Chicago’s first quarter was the best of the four it had in its latest clash with the Packers. The period was the high point for the team in terms of yards (71), time of possession (8:50) and plays run beyond the 50 (4).
Running back Matt Forte picked up 35 of his game-high 69 yards rushing. He earned two of the Bears’ three first downs on the ground.
Much of Forte’s yardage was gained with fullback Evan Rodriguez leading the way. Tight end Kellen Davis, who had no passes thrown his way, also helped block.
Chicago didn’t face third down until its ninth play from scrimmage. Runs by Forte, Armando Allen and a 9-yard completion from Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall had them humming to the Green Bay 31-yard line.
When the Bears did encounter third down (after a false start penalty on Garza set them back 5 yards), they failed. Cornerback Sam Shields broke up a throw intended for rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Given a choice between attempting a 54-yard field goal with recently signed kicker Olindo Mare or punting, Chicago called on Adam Podlesh. The punter pinned Green Bay deep with a 34-yard kick, but with his boot went Chicago’s best chance for first-quarter points.
The Bears got two more chances and failed to move the chains both times. Linebacker Brad Jones ended the first by tackling a scrambling Cutler short of a first down. Fellow linebacker Clay Matthews halted the second by sacking the beleaguered quarterback on the first play of the second quarter.
In preventing Chicago from converting early, Shields, Jones and Matthews set the tone. Green Bay held the Bears without a third-down conversion in nine attempts, the first time it has blanked its rival in that regard since Chicago went 0-for-10 on Dec. 4, 2005.
In weathering the Bears' opening drive (9 plays, 49 yards), the Packers tightened up. For the remainder of the afternoon, they did not allow Cutler and Co. to string together another advance of more than six plays.
Mike McCarthy’s Packers rarely let Chicago on the board early. In 14 regular-season meetings, the Bears have tallied just 10 first-quarter points.
Bernard Berrian is the only player to have scored a touchdown in the first 15 minutes. The wide receiver hauled in a 49-yard TD pass from Rex Grossman as Chicago ruined McCarthy’s debut 26-0 in 2006.
On Dec. 23, 2007, Robbie Gould kicked a 31-yard field goal to open the scoring in the Bears’ 35-7 win in Chicago. Garza, then in his third season with Chicago, was the starting right guard for the team as it moved 67 yards in 17 plays to set up the kick.
That’s it. While the Vikings (38 points) and Lions (26) have scored first-quarter points against the Packers since 2008, the Bears have not.
More than 80 years ago when Lewellen, Dilweg and their teammates did a number on Chicago, most teams averaged fewer than 15 points a game. Today, where only the Chiefs fall into that category, this scoreless streak becomes that much more remarkable.
In two games this season, the Packers held the Bears to 358 yards. That’s the lowest total in a season by Green Bay since the 1966 team surrendered 254 yards to Chicago.