Run defense redeems itself against Bears

Weston Hodkiewicz
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For one night, the struggling run defense didn't struggle.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (52) tackles Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte in the second quarter.

The Green Bay Packers, who entered Sunday allowing a league-worst 153.5 yards per game, scored a big victory for their defense in containing the Chicago Bears' ground attack to 55 yards on 24 carries in a 55-14 blowout at Lambeau Field.

It ended a 12-game skid (including playoffs) of the defense concededing more than 100 rushing yards to opposing offenses. Matt Forte, who had at least 100 rushing yards in his last three meetings with Green Bay, managed only 54 yards on 17 attempts.

"Like I said earlier this week, run defense is a mindset, it's an attitude thing," outside linebacker Julius Peppers said. "Guys came out tonight, we had a different attitude, a different mentality. That's what it's going to take from this point forward. We're going to carry this over to next week and we're going to carry it through the rest of the season."

There were a number of factors in play. The Bears were in pass-mode early with their six touchdowns on the offense's first seven possessions. Clay Matthews also responded to a move to inside linebacker with 11 tackles, which shattered his previous career-high of eight (Week 1 of 2013 season against San Francisco).

The Packers inserted Nick Perry into Matthews' vacated spot at outside linebacker. It was the former first-round pick's first start of the season, but he's arguably been the Packers' best run defender from the outside. He had two tackles with one for loss.

It all added up to a major victory for a group needing to rebound from allowing a career-high 172 rushing yards to New Orleans running back Mark Ingram before the bye.

The performance actually pulled the Packers out of the cellar. Their 142.6 yards allowed per game now ranks 30th ahead of Cincinnati (143.0) and the New York Giants (144.7).

Their total defense jumped to 22nd (371.7 yards per game), leapfrogging the Bears, who fell to 26th after giving up 451 total yards to Aaron Rodgers and Co.

"We played very well today on defense," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Even the times where we may have missed a tackle, I thought the pursuit was the way it needs to be. I thought defensively we were outstanding." and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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