By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers smiled.
Green Bay’s defense rocks Bears’ RBs; Hundley delivers in biggest moments
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This time, it wasn’t triggered by anything the virtuoso did, but rather by what he saw his protégé deliver: A victory.
The pass had scarcely reached Davante Adams’ outstretched hands when a TV camera panned the Packers’ bench. It caught Rodgers’ grin and knowing nod, as if to say, “Told you so.”
Brett Hundley’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Adams with 5:29 to play was the difference in Green Bay’s 23-16 victory over the Bears Sunday at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
It capped an 8-play, 75-yard response after the Bears closed to 16-13 on a Mitchell Trubisky-to-Joshua Bellamy 46-yard touchdown pass earlier in the fourth quarter.
It was Hundley making the big throw at the critical moment and nailing it. The back-shoulder fade route to Adams was a Rodgers’ staple. It seems Hundley has been paying attention.
The look of satisfaction was evident in Rodgers, his teammates and the coaches.
“I thought Brett Hundley played his best game of the year,” Packers head coach Mike McCarty said. “Just (the way he was) handling the different situations, particularly the high pressure there in the fourth quarter.”
Hundley proved the Packers could win without Rodgers. The margin for error is slimmer, but it is still possible.
Last week, it seemed as if a majority of media and fans were quick to criticize Hundley, McCarthy, the scouts and the medical staff.
Perhaps Sunday’s solid showing will shake some sense into the outrageously outraged among us.
Hundley completed 18 of 25 passes for 212 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions in his third NFL start. His confidence and quarterback rating (110.8) both soared.
He took command in the huddle and it showed in the results.
Hundley was asked what led him to be more “take charge” he said, “Just myself … that’s all I can be, that’s all I ever will be and you know I love the guys, I have a lot of respect for them and we just got out there and did our thing. We detailed our work a lot this week and it paid off.”
Hundley also had to deal with a hamstring injury. He was noticeably slow on a second half scramble.
“That’s probably the slowest I’ve ever run in a game,” Hundley said.
Still, he had enough in his arm and legs to beat the Bears (3-6) while outplaying Trubisky.
The Bears’ first-round draft pick completed 21 of 35 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown. His quarterback rating of 97.0 was strong, but Hundley played him to at least a draw.
Most everywhere else, including defense, the Packers were better.
Mike Daniels apparently decided to play a better game than he talked this week. He racked up five tackles and a sack without making a single boneheaded penalty.
With Daniels, the question isn’t whether he can do it. It’s will he without allowing a lack of discipline to derail him?
Davon House had a team-high eight tackles with a sack and two tackles for loss. Nick Perry registered three sacks and appeared to be quicker than in recent weeks.
The Packers’ injury situation remains a problem.
Aaron Jones attempted just three carries for 12 yards before being carted off with an apparent knee injury. Ty Montgomery stepped up to bolt for a 37-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, but shortly thereafter was out with a rib injury.
That left rookie Jamaal Williams to carry the load.
Williams delivered with 20 carries for a workmanlike 67 yards. His 3.3 yards per carry average wasn’t special. What was impressive is that the Bears’ defense knew he was going to run the football and he still pounded out first downs. His long run of the game was just 7 yards, but he was consistent.
The Packers also had no turnovers, only five penalties for 35 yards and they outrushed the Bears 160 to 55.
The Packers (5-4) kept pace with the Vikings (7-2) and Lions (5-4) as all three NFC North teams won Sunday.
Next up for the Packers is the Baltimore Ravens and a chance to get a home victory and a two-game winning streak.
That seems possible thanks to Sunday’s win and a performance by Hundley good enough to make Aaron Rodgers smile.