By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The injury-riddled Packers found a way to win, whereas the inept Bears couldn’t find a way to get out of their own way.
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The result was predictable.
The Packers had enough grit – and enough healthy players still standing at the end – to capture a hard-fought 35-14 victory over the Bears Thursday night at Lambeau Field.
The ugliest moment of the night – aside from Bears quarterback Mike Glennon’s atrocious start – was Chicago linebacker Danny Trevathan’s cheap shot on Green Bay’s Davante Adams.
The Packers’ receiver was carried off on a stretcher after Trevathan’s dirty hit in the third quarter. Trevathan wasn’t ejected, but was subsequently suspended for two games.
The medical reports on Adams have been positive in the days since the hit, which comes as a blessing for Adams and a Green Bay team that simply can’t afford to lose more players.
Running back Ty Montgomery was KO’d in the first quarter with a chest injury. Jamaal Williams, his backup, also was forced to leave with a knee injury.
It left rookie Aaron Jones to fill the void. The fifth-round draft pick rushed for a team-high 49 yards on 13 carries, including a nifty 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
“We knew we were going to get a grind of a game,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. “The turnovers were huge for us.”
McCarthy’s “turnovers” comment was a reference to the Bears’ three turnovers that Green Bay turned into three touchdowns. Essentially, it was the difference in the game.
There was that and the Grand Canyon-sized chasm between the teams’ starting quarterbacks.
While Aaron Rodgers was forced to work without a safety net – starting tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga were out – the Bears’ Mike Glennon was merely atrocious.
Glennon racked up four turnovers, including two early fumbles and a pair of interceptions.
Clay Matthews’ strip-sack set up the Packers’ offense with great field position. Rodgers needed just three plays to capitalize by connecting with Randall Cobb for a 2-yard touchdown.
For Matthews, it was his 75th sack to move him past Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and into first place in Packers’ annals.
Glennon’s second interception occurred with 2:52 to play in the third quarter. It set up a six-play drive capped by a Rodgers-to-Jordy Nelson 8-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-7 Packers.
The Packers (3-1) survived despite an offensive line that came into the game down to its sixth-best tackle. Bakhtiari and Bulaga were ruled out, while Jason Spriggs, Kyle Murphy and Don Barclay all are on injured reserve.
McCarthy, to his credit, devised a way to win.
He moved left guard Lane Taylor to left tackle and started Adam Pankey in Taylor’s usual spot. Then, McCarthy called a steady dose of running plays behind the duo to open the game.
It allowed the left side of the line to get comfortable early. Instead of having to be on their heels in pass protection, Taylor and Pankey used their size and strength to out-muscle the Bears.
In essence, McCarthy made lemonade out of lemons.
Bears head coach John Fox accepted the blame.
“Obviously a very poor performance,” he said. “I think it starts at the top. We got out-coached … we got outplayed in every area.”
It was especially evident at quarterback.
Rodgers threw for four touchdown passes while connecting on 18 of 26 attempts for 179 yards.
“This was a big character win for us,” Rodgers said. “It’s been a next-man-up, no-excuses policy.”
The game was delayed 47 minutes when a thunderstorm generating lightning blew through the area at the end of the first quarter. By then, the Packers held a commanding 14-0 lead.
Green Bay’s defense was solid. It did everything except get Glennon benched in favor of rookie Mitchell Trubisky.
Glennon hit on 21 of 33 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown to fend off his competitor for now.
What Glennon couldn’t do was fend off the Packers’ defense. By the time Jordan Howard rushed for 53 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown in the fourth quarter it was too little, too late.
The win keeps the Packers (3-1) tied with Detroit (3-1) atop the NFC North. The loss leaves the Bears (1-3) alone in last place.
The Packers’ victory makes the all-time series record 95-94-6 in favor of Green Bay. It’s the first time the Packers have led in the series since 1933.
The way the Bears played, it may be awhile before Chicago recaptures the series lead.
After a much-needed 10-day rest the Packers will travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys, who are coming off a tough loss Sunday to the Los Angeles Rams.
It should be a battle in “Big D” as opposed to the war of attrition with the Bears.