I remembered Cutler's well-documented struggles against the Pack last year; I remembered Aaron Rodgers' superb play; and — perhaps most of all — I remembered how the Packers defense engaged in a cutthroat sort of play that made it insanely hard for the Bears to do much of anything against them.
Perhaps naïvely, I believed that those same struggles would repeat themselves last night, and the Pack — while playing the gritty type of ball that is to be expected from this storied rivalry - would ultimately pull it out, be 3-0 and on their merry way.
By my estimation my expectations of play turned out to be generally true. Rodgers was superb, Cutler was shaky, and the rest seemed like it would fall into place.
Then again, things tend to fall out of place when your team commits eighteen penalties.
Like a hilariously awful sports comedy come true, the Packers were penalized an aforementioned eighteen times in last night's game. The count broke an all-time franchise record that had stood since 1955 and negated many big plays on both ends of the field en route to an embarrassing 20-17 defeat at the hands of the despised Chicago Bears.
These weren't your run-of-the-mill, procedural penalties that fail to amount to anything in a game, either; these were serious penalties, ones that negated interceptions by Jay Cutler, a touchdown pass by Aaron Rodgers, and several other large plays that prevented any sort of momentum shift toward the the Packers' once they'd lost their lead in the fourth quarter.
On one hand, it's a serious issue. As I've said, the Packers arguably outplayed the Bears in every facet of this game... except for penalties committed. This was a game that shouldn't, by anybody's reasonable standards, have been lost... yet it was.
It harks back to a time several years ago when the Packers lollygagged to several embarrassing defeats at the hands of the Bears, pockmarked by the same rookie mistakes that ultimately did them in once again here. The loss reminds us that it's sometimes nice to have more than a few veterans on a squad.
On the other hand, I'd like to remain optimistic and take this game simply as a lesson learned. After a stern talking-to by Mike McCarthy (which I'm sure has probably happened already), the Packers should be back to their winning ways, ready to cruise in a Week 4 matchup against the ever-lowly Detroit Lions.
Long story short: Green Bay, I'm giving you a pass on this week and am assuming that you've learned your lesson. Please don't test the patience of Packer Nation next week.
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