The Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 27-17 in a sloppy game at Soldier Field in Chicago to advance to 3-0 on the season. The Bears fell to a disappointing 1-2 with the painful loss to a division foe on their home field.
The Packers played well enough to get the victory but certainly left room for improvement as they turned the ball over twice and committed seven penalties. Proving they were clearly the better team, the Packers left opportunities on the field and let the Bears hang around late.
The Packers benefited from some great individual performances as they outlasted the Bears in NFC North battle. The win leaves the Packers tied with the Detroit Lions for first in the division.
The Packers looked as if they might be in trouble as Bryan Bulaga pounded the ground in frustration after the big man went down hard with a knee injury. Marshall Newhouse was welcomed to the game as the backup right tackle as Bears' defensive lineman Julius Peppers switched sides in an attempt to take advantage of the newcomer.
A flag on the play delayed Peppers from getting his opportunity against Newhouse, but he lined up against the backup on several occasions. Newhouse held his own against the Bears and helped to provide Aaron Rodgers with time in the passing game and created running lanes for Ryan Grant.
The Packers offensive line did a good job of keeping Rodgers upright and giving him time to find his weapons all over the field.
If Bulaga is to miss time with his knee injury, the Packers should be OK with Newhouse if he can continue to build on the first significant playing time of his career.
Aaron Rodgers used the emergence of his favorite weapon, Jermichael Finley, to spark yet another masterful performance. Rodgers opened the game completing five of his seven passes on the Packers' opening drive for 67 yards and finished the drive with a touchdown pass to Finley.
Rodgers completed passes to seven different players as he finished the game with 28 completions on 38 attempts for 297 yards. Three touchdown passes against the Bears gave Rodgers eight touchdowns on the seasons.
In the fourth quarter, Brian Urlacher slipped in front of Finley for Rodgers' first interception of the season. The turnover further gave the Bears life after a Jay Cutler touchdown pass brought them back into the game as they made the score 27-17.
Rodgers continued his streak of hot play to begin the season with another solid performance finishing the game with a quarterback rating of 111.4. The rating is the lowest of the season so far for Rodgers, but is quite a bit higher than Cutler's 78.9 rating for the afternoon.
The Packers continued their domination of Jay Culter as Morgan Burnett had two interceptions on the afternoon. It was the sixth time in eight games against the Packers that Cutler has thrown two or more interceptions.
Burnett's first interception of the game came in the first quarter as Culter lobbed up a ball to Roy Williams down the sideline. Williams had gotten a step on Tramon Williams on a double move, but Burnett was able to cover the distance and make a play on Cutler's errant throw.
The second interception occurred early in the fourth quarter as Cutler once again targeted Williams. Cutler overthrew the pass down the middle of the field as the ball sailed to a waiting Burnett. The Packers offense was unable to score points off either turnover.
Besides his two interceptions, Burnett also lead the team with a combined six tackles. He was credited with five solo tackles and added another assisted tackle as he looks to fill in for the absent Nick Collins.
After being slightly outplayed by his counterpart James Starks in the first two weeks, Ryan Grant showed up in a big way for the Packers. Grant opened the game with a 13-yard burst up the middle of the field to get the Packers offense jump started in the right direction.
Grant took advantage of his bounty of opportunities as he carried the ball 17 times for 92 yards, giving him an impressive 5.4 yards per carry. His successful performance on the ground helped the Packers gain a significant advantage in time of possession as the Packers controlled the ball for more than 37 minutes of the game.
Over the first two games, Starks had been the more impressive runner and had gotten more carries from the coaching staff. Coming into this game, Grant had only carried the ball 15 times on the season. His 17 carries are the most a Packers back has had in a game this season.
Starks turned in an extremely disappointing performances as he carried the ball 11 times for five yards and lost a fourth-quarter fumble in the Packers' own territory. He lacked the vision that had made him so successful in the first two games. It appears the Packers will continue to ride whichever back has the hot hand.
After his three-touchdown performance against the Bears, Jermichael Finley was asked if he was coverable one-on-one.
"You see as well as I do out there," Finley said. "The film answers the question for itself."
Finley's swagger after the game was well deserved as he man-handled the Bears to the tune of seven catches for 85 yards and three scores. The Bears had no answer for the monster that is Finley as he caught red-zone touchdowns from six, seven and 10 yards out.
Finley has improved each game of the season and decided to host his 2011 season breakout party at Soldier Field. The three touchdowns were a career-high for the fourth-year tight end who has been extremely vocal about his potential.
Certainly on his way to becoming one of the league's best tight ends, Finley's combination of size, speed and power have him in a class of his own. The question remains whether or not Finley can stay healthy over the length of the long season. If he is able to prove his durability and build on his Week 3 success, Finley could be facing a lengthy extension.