Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers: Full Report Card for Thursday Night Football
The Packers defended their home at Lambeau Field in a big way, mostly thanks to the laughably bad Bears offensive line and the horrendous play of Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler.
Green Bay ended up winning handily, 23-10.
While the teams get a crack at each other once again this season, this matchup will have massive implications on the rest of the season. Some players shined in the spotlight, while others should have simply stayed at home.
Here is a full report card with grades for the most important players and units that had an impact on the final outcome of the game.
Clay Matthews, LB, Packers: Matthews was a disruptive force for the entirety of the game at Lambeau Field Thursday night, getting to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler at will.
Matthews was not alone in his dominance of the Bears offensive line, but he was a major reason those around him were finding success as well, with Chicago focusing on shutting him down.
Clay finished the game with 3.5 sacks and provided consistent disruptive pressure that does not get recorded on a stat sheet.
Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago Bears: If Matthews was the best player for the Packers defense, Peppers was easily the best player on the defensive side of the ball for Chicago in the losing effort.
Peppers ended the game with two sacks and played large part in Aaron Rodgers' mediocre night.
Although his effort was in vain, Peppers once again has a night to remember.
Shea McClellin, DE, Chicago Bears: There were not many other standouts for the Bears on the defensive side of things, but rookie defensive end McClellin was bright spot for the franchise.
McClellin was a controversial first-round pick for Chicago in the 2012 NFL draft, but in his limited snaps he wreaked havoc on Green Bay's offensive line.
He only racked up 1.5 sacks, but it is a great sign on a big stage for the rookie.
Tramon Williams, CB, Green Bay Packers: Williams struggled last season, but appeared to turn things around against a mediocre Cutler.
The much-maligined corner intercepted two errant passes by Cutler, and effectively helped to kill any momentum the Bears might have gained.
If Williams is back to his Super Bowl form, the Packers could field a great defensive unit in 2012.
Cedric Benson, RB, Green Bay Packers: Benson was a bit of a controversial signing by the Packers, but he came through in a big way against Chicago.
He rushed for 81 yards on 20 carries and was clearly playing hard and with passion against his former team.
Benson providing Green Bay with any semblance of a running game is bad news for the rest of the league, but so far he is looking perfect in the Packers' system.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears: Before leaving with an injury in the third quarter, Forte looked effective in all areas of the game when actually given the opportunity.
Forte carried the ball seven times for 31 yards and added four catches for 49 yards to his total stat line before leaving the game.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers: Nelson had himself a solid night as the leading receiver for the Packers with six receptions for 84 yards.
His production is a great sign for the Green Bay offense with Greg Jennings out, so the myth that he cannot produce without Jennings can finally be put to bed.
Tom Crabtree, TE, Green Bay Packers: Crabtree had a better night than his counterpart, Jermichael Finely.
He managed to waltz into the end zone untouched courtesy of a fake field goal, which put the Packers' lead out of reach for the rest of the night.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: Rodgers did not exactly play up to his MVP caliber, but he did enough to win behind an abysmal offensive line.
Rodgers ended the game with 219 yards, a touchdown and an interception. In the end, his leadership and good decisions in going 22-of-32 won the Packers the game.
Some games are going to be ugly for Rodgers, and this was one of them. His ability to will his team to a win is like this is what makes him the best in the league.
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: Cobb did not have as explosive of a game as we are used to seeing, but he still manged to contribute when it mattered.
He proved to be a matchup nightmare once again, lining up not only at wide receiver, but at running back as well. Out of the backfield he would either take a handoff or go out to catch passes, which provided major problems for the Bears defense.
Cobb managed to finish the night with one reception for 20 yards and one rush for 28 yards. Not eye-popping numbers, but he caused enough issues all over the field to help contribute to the win.
Donald Driver, WR, Green Bay Packers: In a very familiar scene, Driver ended up in the end zone performing a Lambeau Leap.
Driver caught a touchdown in the fourth quarter, which proved to be the dagger in the winning effort. He was by no means a game-changer, but it is great to see the wily veteran still making plays when needed.
Officiating crew: For as bad as the refs have been so far this season, the Thursday night showdown was one of their better performances.
It was not a perfect night by any means, but there were no major mistakes.That alone is worth a passing grade.
Bears field-goal unit: The Bears special-teams unit deserves a mention here after falling asleep during a routine field-goal attempt, and proceeded to give up a touchdown to a backup tight end on a fake.
The lack of effort and concentration helped to spark the Packers on the path to victory.
Brian Urlacher, LB, Chicago Bears: Playing hurt or not, Urlacher looked lost on the field at times in the loss.
He has clearly lost a step and did not stand a chance in coverage. He did manage to contribute against the run and ended the game with five tackles and three assisted tackles.
Earl Bennett, WR, Chicago Bears: Bennett was the target on Jay Cutler's second interception, and while it was a horrible pass from Cutler, had Bennett come back to the ball the turnover would have never happened.
The interception certainly did not help things, but Bennett at least showing a bit of effort would have been nice.
Jermichael Finely, TE, Green Bay Packers: Finley had a disappointing night despite finishing with four catches and 26 yards.
Finely dropped a variety of passes and lost a fumble as well. For a tight end with such outstanding measurables, Finely proved once again why he is not a reliable option, especially in big games.
Jay Cutler, QB. Chicago Bears: Despite little help, Cutler was arguably the biggest reason for the Bears loss.
He managed to add a touchdown to his total when the game was already decided, but only completing 11-of-27 passes for 126 yards and four interceptions is not getting the job done.
Outside of the atrocious stat line, Cutler's horrible body language and griping at his own teammates certainly did not help matters, and it is no wonder why the team looked so disinterested for most of the contest.
Chicago Bears offensive line: The Bears offensive line was a complete joke all night long, especially left tackle J'Marcus Webb.
There were no redeeming qualities about the line at all, and Cutler's lack of time to throw and the lack of running lanes are a major reason as to why the Bears did not stand a chance from the beginning.
Green Bay Packers offensive line: In a recurring trend, the Packers offensive line was almost as bad as Chicago's for the majority of the contest.
The only bright spot is Green Bay's line, at points, were solid in run-blocking, which opened up lanes for Cedric Benson. It was ugly for the unit, but it was enough to get a victory over a big rival and divisional opponent.