Rodgers Who? Packers dominate Bears as Love Era begins
Jamie Sabau - USA Today Sports

Rodgers Who? Packers dominate Bears as Love Era begins


by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - There is no denying that the 2023 NFL season opener between the Chicago Bears (0-1) and Green Bay Packers (1-0) at Solider Field was full of storylines. Not only are the Bears a completely different-looking team with all the changes they made to their roster, but the Packers have a new man under center for the first time in nearly two decades as Jordan Love takes over for Aaron Rodgers.

With Packers dominating this rivalry for the past 30 years to take over the all-time lead in the series, this was the first time in forever that Chicago felt like they had the advantage in the series. Instead, it was more of the same for the Bears as it didn't seem to matter who the Packers had under center as Love threw for three scores to help the Packers win their ninth straight over the Bears 38-20.

Things looked different in the game's early stages as Justin Fields found Khalil Herbert for an excellent first down completion on the Bears opening possession. Herbert took some carries also, but couldn't do much as the Bears faced a fourth and short. Looking to convert the first, Fields does what he does best: run the football, but the Packers defense stood tall to turn them over on downs.

With a short field, the Packers moved the ball, but it was more challenging than expected, as they needed 11 plays to go 40 yards. Aaron Jones played a part in that, as did Romeo Doubs, who was Love's favorite target in week one. Those two would cap off the Packers opening possession with a touchdown as Love found Doubs for the eight-yard score to give the Packers a 7-0 lead.

Not only did the Bears bounce back, but the defense started to step up, which made things easier for Fields and the offense. Led by a 23-yard pass to Darnell Mooney followed by a first down run from Herbert, the Bears were in Packers territory and threatening to reach the red zone. That drive resulted in a 47-yard field goal from Cairo Santos for the Bears first points of the season. One drive later, the same story as the legs of Fields and D'Onta Foreman helped set up the passing game where DJ Moore started to get involved. Once again, the Bears offense stalled as they settled for another Santos field goal to make things 7-6.

That was as close as the Bears would get the rest of the way, as the Packers dominated the Bears in every facet of the game. With both teams struggling to move the ball most of the second half, the Packers had the ball last with a chance to add to their lead. A 30-yard pass to Jaylen Reed helped get the job done as the Packers tacked on a 52-yard field goal right before the half to give Green Bay a 10-6 lead at the break.

That field goal seemed to awaken the Packers offense as they came out on fire to start the second half, needing just 12 plays for more than 140 yards of offense with two touchdowns. The first came after an eight-play 75-yard drive that Aaron Jones anchored. Of all the new faces on the Packers offense, Jones has been the constant the past five seasons as the offense will go through him.

Five of the eight plays went through Jones on the Packers opening drive to begin the second half as he finished things off from one yard out to give the Packers a 17-6 lead. Jones had 41 yards on the ground with one score while adding a team-high 86 yards receiving with an additional TD, which came on the Packers next possession as he took the short pass from Love and did the rest as the Packers opened up a commanding 24-6 lead.

For the Bears to be taken seriously this season, they need to find away to bounce back when adversity hits, and fumbling three plays into their next drive to give the Packers the ball right back doesn't help. Fortunately, the Bears defense took care of things on the next possession to force a Packers punt and gave the ball back to the offense, hoping to get something going for the first time in the second half.

Roschon Johnson started things with a pair of nice runs, with Mooney picking up another first down through the air. The Mooney/Fields connection wasn't finished on that drive as the two hooked up for a perfectly executed wheel route TD from 20 yards out to make things 24-12. The Bears went for two and gave the ball to Herbert, who took care of the rest to make things 24-14.

Trying to hold the Packers offense down to give the Bears a chance, the same struggles from last season continued as the Bears struggled to get to the QB. Big plays are bound to follow when that happens, as Love hooked up with Reed for another big play. The drive's key play was when Love fumbled the ball, picked up his fumble, and then hooked up with Luke Musgrave for 37 yards to move the ball inside the five. He would then find Doubs for his third TD shortly after the Bears were down 31-14.

To make matters worse, Fields was unable to hook up with his man on the next possession as Quay Walker was there for the interception as he returned it to the house for the 37-yard TD to open up a 38-14 lead. Those would be the game's final points for the Packers, who only touched the ball twice more.

Apart from one drive, the same can be said about the Bears offense, as they didn't have a good day. Fields found Cole Kmet a few times while the running game helped move the ball inside the Packers red zone. Johnson finished things with his first career NFL score, but that was it for the Bears, who dropped their ninth straight game to the Packers 38-20.

Once again, Fields led the Bears in rushing with 59 yards, but that can't happen for them to win more games. It will come down to his passing and the overall improvement for them to take the next step, and after going 24-37 for 216 yards, you saw some improvement. Fields had one TD, but also threw a costly pick as the turnovers continue to be an issue.

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