2012 September : Packers Insider

Roger Goodell Robs Packers

September 24, 2012 by  
Filed under News

By Brian E. Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior editor

~I cannot defend these overmatched, under-trained replacement refs any longer.

I’ve been trying to for five weeks of preseason and now three weeks of real games, but I realize now that I was wrong and was a victim of Roger Goodell and the greedy NFL. 

It’s one thing to subject the fans to these comedy of errors. It’s another to the health of the players.

A common theme around the league these past few weeks has been chippiness. Some might even call it dirty.

These inexperienced and overwhelmed refs have missed more than their share of calls, understandingly. But what also has been happening is tempers have been flaring and players have been getting away with more cheap shots, and just more rough stuff after the whistle.

Heck, the Seahawks defensive back Brandon Browner even got away with dirty stuff before the whistle against Greg Jennings. Of course when Jennings defended himself, the referee also added a personal foul on Jennings. Had Jennings not done that, Browner would not have even been called for his blatant personal foul. He actually committed two of them on that play.

Fast forward to the last few minutes of the game.

The 49ers had a 3rd & 30, and Seattle QB Russ Wilson threw a deep ball along the left sideline to a well-covered Sidney Rice. Packer cornerback Sam Shields had what we call “textbook coverage”. Not only was the coverage perfect, Shields also played the ball perfectly. He turned and saw the ball coming, and he got both hands ready to go up and make the interception, which he is good at.

However, Rice put two hands into Shields back quickly, and went up for the ball. He also grabbed Shields facemask and tugged Shields head around. Rice made a nice play to prevent an interception, well worth an offensive pass interference (OPI) call.

Rice saw the flag and jogged by the young ref, and motioned and shouted to him that’s defensive pass interference. The ref bought it and called Shields for a penalty and erasing what would have been 2nd & 30. It was a terrible call, no getting around it.

ESPN’s Jon Gruden said “Green Bay’s going to have a hard time getting over this. IT was 1st & 30, and to call a terrible pass interference call on Sam Shields. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Everyone knows that M/D. Jennings is the one who caught the ball, that Golden Tate only got his arm on the ball but never actually had possession.

But what’s far worse is that Tate clearly got away with a game-ending penalty as the ball was coming down, when he took two hands and shoved Shields away in the back. Shields had perfect position again, and was rewarded by the refs stealing one from him, and this time the team.

Gruden, in the booth and watching several replays, said “Golden Tate gets away with one of the most blatant offensive pass interference calls I’ve ever seen.”

Gruden added “Too much at stake. Too much hard work. Tragic.”

NFL Network’s Heath Evans said “This game was taken from the Packers. They (refs, NFL) got it wrong.”

Troy Aikman called it a joke.

Radio play by play, and NFL Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts said that Tate never even had partial possession of the ball, but rather just grabbed Jennings arm on the way down.

What happened under the pile later should not matter when replay shows as clear as day that M.D. Jennings intercepted the ball.

T.J. Lang was not afraid to risk a fine from Goodell after the game. Packers Lang tweeted that the Packers were robbed “by the refs. Thanks NFL.”

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez stayed up and watched: “I’ve been saying give the refs a break but that TD call was ridiculous. How do you miss that? Pop Warner refs would have gotten that right.”

Gruden said “There’s no way Green Bay should fly 6,000 miles home and lose a game like this. That’s what instant replay  is for. I don’t like the way this game finished. I have a bad taste in my mouth.”

The fact of the matter is it was Roger Goodell and the NFL who allowed the game to get to this point. He talks about the “integrity of the game” when he’s handing out disciplinary action for violent and illegal hits (which is good, because there are a lot of dirty players).

But seeing the refs continue to butcher calls has cost the league a lot more credibility than the late hits on Favre did.

Tonight, it cost the Packers a very hard-earned, and important victory. That’s on Goodell.

Clueless in Seattle: referee Lance Easley butchers final call, hands game to Seahawks

September 24, 2012 by  
Filed under News

SEATTLE (AP) — In a bizarre ending that capped a brutal weekend for replacement officials, the Seattle Seahawks somehow beat the Green Bay Packers 14-12 on Monday night in a game that’s certain to re-ignite frustrations over the locked-out refs.

Russell Wilson threw a disputed 24-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate on the final play of the game, a game that finally ended 10 minutes later when both teams were brought back on the field for the extra point.

Wilson scrambled from the pocket and threw to the corner of the end zone as the clock expired. Tate shoved Green Bay’s Sam Shields out of the way, then wrestled with M.D. Jennings for possession. It was ruled on the field as a touchdown and after a lengthy review, referee Wayne Elliott came out from under the hood and announced “the ruling on the field stands” and CenturyLink Field erupted in celebration.

It was nearly 10 minutes before the teams were brought back for the extra point.

The final decision is only going to fuel debate about the replacement officials coming off a weekend filled with disputed calls.

“Don’t ask me a question about the officials,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. “I’ve never seen anything like that in all my years in football.

The official who saw the ball in M.D. Jennings arms and chest, but mistakingly signaled "touchdown", Lance Easley (26) gestures on the field following the Seattle Seahawks' 14-12 win over the Green Bay Packers in an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

“I know it’s been a wild weekend in the NFL and I guess we’re part of it now.”

And the last game of the weekend will debated more than any other.

Seattle (2-1) won its second straight, while Green Bay (1-2) and saw its streak of wins in six straight road openers snapped.

Wilson’s heave came at the end of a final frantic drive after Seattle had previously missed on a fourth-down attempt from the Green Bay 7 with 2 minutes left. The turnover on downs appeared to end Seattle’s hopes and cap an impressive second-half comeback by the Packers and Aaron Rodgers , who was sacked eight times – all in the first half.

Green Bay averted disaster when John Kuhn fumbled on the Packers first play following the change of possession but center Jeff Saturday recovered. The Seahawks held and forced Green Bay to punt from the 4 with 57 seconds left. The 41-yard punt set Seattle up at the Green Bay 46 with 46 seconds remaining.

Wilson hit Sidney Rice for 22 yards on a slant then went for Tate in the end zone but the ball was batted away with 18 seconds left. He threw over the head of Evan Moore on second down leaving 12 seconds remaining and missed Tate again at the 5.

Wilson took the final snap with 8 seconds remaining. He appeared to be looking for Rice on the right side of the end zone, but rolled left and threw for Tate, who was in a crowd of three Packers defenders. His shove of Shields was obvious and it was never clear who had possession between Tate and Jennings.

Seattle instantly celebrated while the Packers argued with anyone in a striped shirt. Both teams were eventually shoved to the sidelines as Tate stomped through the end zone in celebration. Following the review, Elliott’s announcement sent the stadium into delirium and even more confusion ensued until the teams finally returned to the field for the extra point.

“From what I understood from the officials it was a simultaneous catch. Tie goes to the runner. Good call,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.

Rodgers had quite a different opinion.

“It was awful. Just look at the replay. And then the fact that it was reviewed, it was awful,” he said. “That’s all I’m going to say about it.

“We shouldn’t have been in that position.

Troy Aikman tweeted "These games are a joke," while NBA MVP LeBron James tweeted "I simply just LOVE the NFL to much to see these mistakes. I'm sick like I just played for the Packers"

It was Tate’s second touchdown of the game after catching a 41-yard TD in the second quarter to give Seattle a 7-0 lead. He finished with three catches for 68 yards, while Wilson was 10 of 21 for 130 yards.

The Packers’ frustration was almost instant. Guard T.J. Lang was even more emphatic, tweeting that the Packers were robbed “by the refs. Thanks NFL.”

Green Bay shook off a disastrous first half where Rodgers was sacked eight times and completely controlled possession in the final 30 minutes. Green Bay ran 41 offensive plays in the second half, got field goals of 29 and 40 yards from Mason Crosby and Cedric Benson ‘s 1-yard TD run with 8:44 left to take a 12-7 lead.

Others spoke their mind by tweeting.

Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman tweeted “These games are a joke,” while NBA MVP LeBron James tweeted “I simply just LOVE the NFL to much to see these mistakes. I’m sick like I just played for the Packers”
Full story of Heist in Seattle here

The true measure of Russell Wilson

September 20, 2012 by  
Filed under News

By Liz Merrill, ESPN.com

~SEATTLE — When nobody was watching, a little quarterback practiced for his day in front of the cameras. He used a hairbrush for a microphone. His dad did the interviewing, prepping him in the hopes that one day a roomful of people would listen. Anything in his control, the kid would be prepared for it. The tightest spiral? He was up at 6 a.m. to work on that. The smartest guy in the locker room? He once drove 17 hours straight, from Richmond, Va., to the University of Wisconsin just to get a copy of the playbook so he could become one with it over the Fourth of July weekend.

It was the stuff out of his control that confounded Russell Wilson. He did not talk about those things. He’d hear someone say he couldn’t do something in high school, and Wilson would type the quote, print it out and hang it on his wall so he could stare at it each morning when he awoke.

When the schedule first came out in the spring, everyone thought this game would be former Packer Matt Flynn facing his old team. Everyone except Russell Wilson.

Three and three-eighths inches. If Harrison Wilson III could make it to the final NFL cutdown back in 1980 after three years of law school, if he could survive a stroke that should’ve killed him and hold on long enough to see that his kid was going to be OK, then his son could sure as hell overcome three and three-eighths inches.

“What happens in life is someone has to dream a dream for you before you do it yourself,” said Ben Wilson, Russell’s uncle.
“Like all parents, my brother never gave up on his dream, even if he didn’t realize it. He helped his son realize it.”

This is a story about nurture clobbering nature. About a life defined not only by limitations, but how a man became better because of those limitations. We’ll begin in a basement in Washington, D.C., in the home of uncle Ben Wilson, a prominent attorney whose résumé is too long to list. The 2012 NFL draft party, at least Russell Wilson’s version of it, is held here, with Russell’s closest friends and family, his wife, Ashton, and their dog, Cali.

The party starts on Thursday night, technically, but who are they kidding? They know Wilson won’t be drafted in the first round, because despite setting an NCAA record for passing efficiency, despite leading his Wisconsin Badgers to the Big Ten title five months after he arrived on campus, he is, after all, 5-foot-10 and five-eighths inches tall, which is 3 and three-eighths inches short of the NFL standard. So the real crowd doesn’t show up until Friday, after four vertically unchallenged quarterbacks have already been picked, and the party-goers heap their plates with jambalaya and wait. And wait.

At some point in the night, Scott Pickett, Wilson’s best friend since grade school, tells him everything will be fine, and Wilson, always calm, agrees. “God is looking out for me,” Wilson tells his friend.

Another quarterback, a guy named Brock Osweiler, falls off the board. He’s 6-foot-7. Somewhere after Osweiler and a six-minute spat between ESPN analysts Jon Gruden and Mel Kiper Jr. over Wilson’s worth — Gruden ends it by saying he has a headache and that Wilson will prove everyone wrong — Wilson is finally picked in the third round. It is still considered a risk for coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks.

Wilson will be a solid backup quarterback, most analysts say. He will get lost in a league full of 6-5 prototypes. Nobody in Uncle Ben’s basement believes that. Five months pass, hundreds of pages of a playbook turn and Wilson is the Seahawks’ starting quarterback.

He is not Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III or even Brandon Weeden. Wilson has taken the least glamorous path of the five rookie starters in the NFL this season — a local radio station has taken a fancy to playing Randy Newman’s “Short People” when Wilson’s name is mentioned — and to say he is an anomaly is an understatement. Perhaps the most notable quarterback under 6 feet to have a major impact in the NFL was Doug Flutie, and currently in the college ranks, no quarterback for any BCS school is listed under 6 feet.

Wilson has been called a test study in a league that hinges on centimeters and is steadfast on black-and-white metrics. A wide receiver is supposed to run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, an offensive lineman is supposed to weigh 300 pounds and a quarterback is supposed to stand at least 6-foot-2.

“He’s what you call an outlier,” said former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt, whose grading system would’ve subtracted 15 points for Wilson’s height. “You go broke looking for those guys. For every guy that you draft that’s three inches and four inches below the accepted minimum, 99 of 100 are going to fail. He’s a real exception.

“Have you ever talked to him personally? He’s the most dynamic guy you’ll ever be around. He has such an unusual flair. I mean, this guy wins you over with two minutes’ talk. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a quarterback that’s undersized like he is that has been so dynamic.”

If Wilson makes it, some hope he will break barriers and alter the notion of what a quarterback should look like. If he makes it, virtually no one, from Richmond to Raleigh to Madison, will be surprised.

These facts, compiled from a list of close friends and associates, are believed to be true about Russell Wilson: He did not have a drop of alcohol until he was 21 because as a quarterback, he’s supposed to be setting an example; he rarely drinks now; and he tries not to swear, though it did seem as if at least one four-letter word slipped out of his mouth in the waning moments of Week 1, when his potential game-winning drive wilted in the Arizona desert.

In many ways, Wilson almost seems too good to be true. The first time he did an interview at Wisconsin, he asked to borrow a shirt with a collar from the equipment manager because he doesn’t do interviews in T-shirts and shorts. The interview wasn’t even on-camera.

He is impeccably dressed in a suit and tie in postgame media sessions. He is somewhat presidential, saying a lot while giving away very little. (Seahawks PR declined a one-on-one interview request with Wilson, saying the team is backing off on individual requests now that the season has started.)

Wilson grew up in Richmond, Va., and went to Collegiate School, a private college preparatory school, from kindergarten through 12th grade. His late dad was a lawyer, his mom, Tammy, a legal nurse consultant, and his little sister, Anna, who’s only 15, is already a blue-chip basketball player and nearly as tall as Russell.

Aside from his wife, Wilson’s two biggest confidantes are probably his brother Harry and his friend Pickett. When they were little boys, Pickett and Wilson used to watch the clock run down to recess and run outside so they could play football, Russell throwing, Scott catching. Even back then, Wilson was used to being smaller. Harrison Wilson used to wake his boys up at 6 in the morning, and Russell would be out in the backyard, zipping passes to Harry, who’s six years older.

His boy wouldn’t be the most physically gifted athlete, but he would definitely be the most prepared. He developed an over-the-top delivery to compensate for his size. When Harrison drove his boys to the University of Richmond to work out, he’d get so pumped up he’d talk “a mile a minute,” Pickett said.

Had the numbers fallen in Harrison’s favor, he would’ve been the first one in the family to make it to the NFL. He was a star receiver at Dartmouth, but his father was an academician. He wanted his son to finish school, so Harrison did. Harrison used to run up hills wearing a vest full of weights to stay in shape in between classes. And upon graduation, he landed a tryout with the San Diego Chargers. He was the last man cut from the 1980 team.

It was clear, early on, that Harrison’s son was special. He had huge hands, a bigger heart and the focus of a med student the night before finals. Everywhere Russell Wilson went, he won people over. One night in a big game against Fork Union Military Academy, Wilson ran for a first down, headed out of bounds, and a linebacker called him a wuss. A couple of Fork Union fans repeated the word, which was actually a bit more inflammatory than wuss, and taunted Wilson.

Hank Carter, who worked the chain gang for the game, told the kids that isn’t who Wilson is. The next drive, Wilson knocked over the linebacker and ran for a first down.

“The two guys came up to me after the game,” Carter said, “and say, ‘Sir, you’re absolutely right. We’ll never say another word.'”

Wilson jokingly used to ask his high school coach, Charlie McFall, to list him at 6 feet tall. Maybe then the college coaches would notice. They did, but not for what Wilson wanted.

“I’d like to have a dollar for every college recruiter who came in and said, ‘Well, you know, can he be a good defensive back?'” McFall said. “I said, ‘I’ve never coached in college, and he can play defensive back, but he’s a quarterback.’ If I’ve ever seen a quarterback, it’s Russell. He’s just a natural.”

He went to North Carolina State to play football and baseball. He’d wake up at 4:30 in the morning, lift with the football team, go to class, then practice baseball in the afternoon.

“He never said he was tired,” said Wolfpack baseball coach Elliott Avent. “He never looked tired. He was fresh as a baby.”

Wilson’s dad, who battled diabetes, suffered a stroke in 2008 around the same time Russell was competing for the starting job on the football team. Harrison was not expected to live. And if he did, the doctors said, he would not be able to function. His family, according to Uncle Ben, tried to tell the doctors that Harrison was a fighter. A few days later, he awoke from his coma. Weeks later, he walked. He was eventually in the stands to see his son lead his team to a victory over Wake Forest.

Harrison’s eyesight was very poor. But when Russell drove the Wolfpack down the field, his father smiled wide and pumped his fist to the school’s fight song.

“I think, more than anything,” Ben Wilson said, “my brother lived his life in such a way that he never surrendered. He never gave up.”

So Russell didn’t, either. He continued to play football and baseball, though football coach Tom O’Brien apparently was not keen on this idea, and thought his quarterback spreading himself too thin. In the summer of 2010, Wilson was drafted in the fourth round by the Colorado Rockies. The next day, Harrison Wilson III died. Ben Wilson believes his brother died in peace. He knew his kid had made it.

Who knows why he seems so much bigger than 5-10 5/8? Why do the people at North Carolina State still speak so fondly of Wilson, who didn’t even finish his college career in Raleigh? How did Wilson arrive at Wisconsin in the middle of the summer, so far behind, then win the hearts of his new teammates so quickly that four weeks later he was named a team captain?

Although Wilson is a fine passer, and very intelligent, he also is a dangerous runner in the Aaron Rodgers mold.

“He works harder than you,” said Cole Hawthorne, one of his old receivers at Collegiate. “That’s what got so many people following the bandwagon. It’s almost like a challenge. You’re trying to work harder than Russell.”

It is believed that O’Brien gave Wilson his release because he was frustrated that Wilson’s baseball commitments kept him from participating in the football team’s offseason workouts. (O’Brien did not return a message from ESPN.com.) For a short, agonizing time, Wilson was a football player without a home. Badgers offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, who’s now the head coach at Pittsburgh, made a trip to Richmond to talk to folks about Wilson. McFall insisted he didn’t have to make the trip, that he could find plenty of people from Richmond to vouch for Wilson, but the Badgers had to do their due diligence. A few weeks later, Chryst sent McFall a text. “BETTER THAN ADVERTISED,” it said.

When Wilson, who got his undergraduate degree in three years, decided on Wisconsin, he wasted little time. He drove halfway across the country with Pickett and a U-Haul, scrambling to learn the playbook in a month. That brutal cram session, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema says, paved the way for Wilson to be so prepared to play in the NFL so quickly. He never really stopped. Wilson got married in January. They took a mini-vacation/honeymoon right after the draft last spring. He took an iPad with the Seahawks’ playbook on it with him.

It was because of this dogged pursuit of knowledge that Bielema knew Wilson was not only going to be a starting NFL quarterback, but that he would start on opening day. “He seems to process things at a rate faster than normal people,” Bielema said.

But history wasn’t working in Wilson’s favor. Size aside, the last rookie quarterback to start in Week 1 after not being drafted in the first two rounds was Kyle Orton in 2005. And there are a hundred fears about putting a franchise’s fate in the hands of a quarterback shorter than 6 feet. The biggest one is that small quarterbacks struggle to see over the line of scrimmage.

But Wilson’s line at Wisconsin was the third-biggest in football, college and pro, and he managed to see fine. He’s fast, athletic and doesn’t get rattled, which is probably a product of starting 50 games in college. His release point is higher than some quarterbacks four inches taller. NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi said Drew Brees is a good example of a smaller quarterback who sees windows and plays much taller than his size. Brees is roughly a 1½ inches taller than Wilson. But Lombardi said it will take time to see how Wilson fits into the league.

In a “SportsCenter” interview this past spring, Wilson said his height “doesn’t define my skill set. I play like I’m a 6-2 or 6-3 quarterback.”

Still, it was a gamble. Seattle plunked down $10 million in guaranteed money a month before the draft to land Matt Flynn, who was supposed to be the Seahawks’ quarterback of the future. Then Wilson showed up for rookie minicamp, took every single rep and Carroll announced that the competition was open.

Carroll compares starting Wilson to his decision to play Matt Barkley as a freshman at USC. They were so equipped so early that they had no choice but to play them.

“We’re going to do what we think is right,” Carroll said about the decision-making process between him and general manager John Schneider. “We don’t know any other way to act. We always want to know what the conventional thinking is. But when we have our information and we’ve done our work and when we look at one another and feel really good about the choices we make, we’re going to do what’s right. We don’t care what anybody else says.”

It is Thursday, four days after the Seahawks have lost their season opener at Arizona, and the locker room is back to its early-season hum. Music blasts, staffers walk with hurried steps and a couple of offensive lineman are laughing and talking about O.J. Simpson.

In the middle of the noise, Wilson is sitting on the floor in front of his locker, his face buried in a binder. He’s highlighting pages with a fluorescent marker. It’s as if he’s in a library. Oh, Wilson will engage with his teammates soon. In a couple of days, he’ll take the field against the Dallas Cowboys. He’ll struggle a bit in the first half, but will slap nearly every hand on special teams and make every man feel amped and important.

Then Wilson will scramble and throw lasers in the second half of a 27-7 victory. He completes 13 of his final 15 passes and throws for 151 yards and a touchdown. His 75 percent completion rate is the highest for a rookie in Seahawks history.

“There’s just something about what he ….. Full story here

High-scoring Packers will test Seahawks’ pound-it-out blueprint

September 20, 2012 by  
Filed under News

By Danny O’Neil, Seattle Times

~The Seahawks’ victory over Dallas on Sunday was the most complete demonstration of how coach Pete Carroll wants his team to play: physical, unflinching and very deliberate.

Rookie Russell Wilson is ready for prime time.

Their next opponent will test that approach.

While the Seahawks are built to win slugfests with a big-bodied defense and steel-toed rushing attack, the Green Bay Packers can turn any game into a shootout.

Green Bay led the NFL in scoring last season at 35 points a game and has scored 20 or fewer only once in its past 18 regular-season games. This season the Packers are averaging 23.5 points.

Brandon Mebane (92) and Chris Clemons (right) drop Dallas' Felix Jones after a short gain, helping the Seahawks outmuscle the Cowboys. -Photo Dean Rutz, Seattle Times

The Seahawks are 1-15 under Carroll when the opponent scores more than 20.

“If you get behind and they’re scoring faster than you are, then you’re in trouble,” Carroll said. “But we’re trying not to let that happen.”

Carroll’s Seahawks are swimming upstream against the trend of NFL teams throwing first and scoring faster.

Ten quarterbacks passed for more than 4,000 yards last season, including Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, who had 4,643. Three players passed for more than 5,000 yards in 2011, a mark that had been reached only once in NFL history.

It’s a manifestation of an airborne trend that is becoming evident in all levels of the game.

“In kids leagues all the way up, it’s more attuned to the throwing game,” Carroll said. “That’s fine.”

That’s just not how these Seahawks are built, with a rookie quarterback in Russell Wilson and a run-first offense. Over two games, Seattle has averaged 136 yards passing, fewest in the league.

“We certainly want to throw the football,” Carroll said. “We’ll throw it more as we go. We’ll be able to throw more as we grow with this team.”

But right now, Seattle’s emphasis is avoiding mistakes and taking advantage of opportunities created by the defense and special teams.

The Seahawks have started five drives in the opponent’s half of the field because of a turnover or special-teams return, and they are one of only five teams in the league that hasn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 20 points in a game this season.

The Packers could test Seattle’s makeup, though. If the Seahawks can’t dictate their style of play, they’ll find it difficult to match Green Bay point for point.

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, right, talks with an official against the Oakland Raiders in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

“We’ll see what happens,” Carroll said. “We’ll see how it goes. That was a pretty high-flying (Dallas) offense this last week, and fortunately we could find a way.”

The Cowboys’ Tony Romo was one of those 10 quarterbacks to surpass 4,000 yards passing last season, and Dallas has ranked among the league’s top 10 in passing yardage each of the past six seasons. Against the Seahawks, the Cowboys failed to score in the second half for only the third time since the start of the 2007 season.

Dallas won’t be the last team with a dynamic passing game to test Seattle. The Seahawks’ schedule includes Detroit, New England and — Monday night at CenturyLink Field — Green Bay.

“We get to start all over again,” Carroll said. “We’ll find out. Right now, this is the best way for us to play.”

Full story here

Alex Green’s confidence grows

September 20, 2012 by  
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By Martin Hendricks, Journal-Sentinel

~Green Bay – Alex Green received his indoctrination into the Bears-Packers rivalry.

The second-year running back trotted on the field with about five minutes left in the second quarter. He took a handoff from quarterback Aaron Rodgers and burst right up the middle and into the heart of the Chicago defense.

The hard-charging Green was met head on and stood up by Corey Wootton, the Bears’ 6-foot-6, 270-pound defensive end, and driven back after a 2-yard gain.

Green Bay Packers running back Alex Green celebrates with fans after rushing for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Midway through the fourth quarter, Green’s number was called again.

This time, the 6-foot, 225-pound back was met at the line of scrimmage and hammered down for no gain by linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher.

“It was my first time actually playing against the Bears; I was inactive last year,” Green said with a smile. “It was fun. It was intense as everyone said it was going to be. We knew coming into it would be a good physical game and that’s what it was. It was an awesome experience for me.”

Those were the only two carries of the game for Green. The stats sheet will show he gained 2 yards.

Last season as a rookie, he rushed just three times for 11 yards and caught one pass for 6 yards.

His promising season was cut short when he blew out his knee blocking on a Green Bay kickoff return at Minnesota in Week 7.

The third-round draft pick from the University of Hawaii was just beginning to earn the confidence of the coaching staff, which translates into a bigger role.

“I’m 100 percent confident,” Green said after the Bears game. “It’s coming and getting better, and as long as I’m progressing, I’m fine with it.”

Green’s comeback could add yet another element of speed to the Green Bay offensive arsenal. He showed a flash of his big-play potential during a 17-yard touchdown run on a perfectly executed screen pass from Graham Harrell in the exhibition finale against Kansas City.

No matter who was in front of him this season, Green’s goal is learn and contribute. “I want to help my team win,” he said. “My time will come.”

Here’s a few more tidbits you probably didn’t know about Green.

Born: June 23, 1988, in Portland, Ore.

Residence: Portland.

College: University of Hawaii. Attended junior college at Butte College in Oroville, Calif. Played with Aaron Rodgers’ younger brother, Jordan, and won a junior college national championship in 2008.

Status: Single. Has a girlfriend and two children: Harlym, 4, and Kingston, 2.

What I’m watching on TV: “Everybody Hates Chris,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” – I know it’s old. “Dancing With the Stars” — had to watch “Drive” (Donald Driver).

Favorite movies: “Ali.” I like the message in the movie. I watch that movie twice a week. In college, I watched it three times a week.

What’s in my iPod: Lil Wayne, Drake, Tupac Shakur. I like hip-hop and R&B.

My ride: I have a 2011 Dodge Durango right now.

Favorite books: I don’t read too many books lately other than my playbook. One of the best books I ever read was on Walter Payton.

Favorite foods: I’m a seafood guy. I like shrimp scampi a lot. I love Red Lobster; it’s my favorite restaurant.

Favorite video games: I play Madden. I’m the best on the team, too, and you can quote me on that. As long as I think that, that’s all that matters.

What’s on my bucket list: To see the world and travel before I die. I’ve seen a lot of the U.S. and Hawaii. I’d like to go to Europe first and then make my way around from there and see as many countries as I can.

Favorite football player and team growing up: As a kid, I watched Detroit because of Barry Sanders. (Note: Green never saw an NFL game in person until he came to Green Bay.)

Alex Green hasn't seen the same holes behind this Packers offensive line as he did behind the University of Hawaii offensive line.

Other sports I enjoy: I tried basketball in high school a little bit but nothing for real. Football and track were my main sports.

What I’ve learned since my rookie year: Patience. I came here behind a lot of great players, so you have to take a seat back and watch and learn.

Strongest attribute: Passion. I’ve been through a couple of things in my past, so I play with a purpose. When I work out, when I practice, when I watch film, when I study the playbook, it’s for a reason. To prove to myself you can overcome with faith.

Obstacles I’ve overcome: I’ve had some personal stuff in my life like homelessness, being away from my kids. I slept in my car for a few months in junior college. I found out I had dyslexia when I got to Hawaii. The injury and rehab; I’ve never had surgery before. It’s been a long road to get here (the NFL), but that’s what keeps me working hard and looking forward.

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Packers put the Bears in their place

September 15, 2012 by  
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By Kevin Seifert, ESPN

~GREEN BAY, Wis. — Yes, the Green Bay Packers were miffed in the days and hours leading up to Thursday night’s divisional showdown with the Chicago Bears. No, it had little to do with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s challenge to their defensive backs. The issue was much larger than that, and it goes all the way back to March 13 — the day the Bears made their surprise trade for receiver Brandon Marshall.

“We thought it was kind of funny,” cornerback Charles Woodson said, “that all of a sudden they were the team to beat because they got a couple new guys.” 

Charles Woodson and Jay Cutler exchange pleasantries.

So it was with great delight that Woodson and his defensive teammates tore up the Bears’ offense in a 23-10 victory at Lambeau Field. It wasn’t because Cutler had wished them “good luck” this week if they tried to play press coverage against Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery. It was the larger notion that Marshall’s arrival had elevated the Bears to a level where they would challenge the Packers’ supremacy in this division.

As a result, this game had an edge rarely seen in what is normally a friendly rivalry. The Packers got under Cutler’s skin early, sacking him on the Bears’ first play from scrimmage and ultimately forcing him into one of the worst games of his career. They sacked Cutler seven times, including 3.5 by linebacker Clay Matthews, and intercepted him four times. Cornerback Tramon Williams grabbed two of those interceptions, but even more notably, he blanketed Marshall for almost the entire game.

The Packers left the Bears’ hype in ruins, limiting them to 168 total yards and 11 first downs in 57 plays. Woodson, for one, appeared quite satisfied afterward to have challenged the Bears’ narrative.

“Their offense didn’t look any different to me,” he said. “We know those guys. We’ve played them a lot. They didn’t look much different. They just have some new players.”

The primary newcomer, Marshall, didn’t see a single pass thrown his way until Williams slipped in coverage with 8 minutes, 59 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Wide open for a touchdown, Marshall dropped the ball in the end zone.

Williams said Cutler’s words this week didn’t get him “out of whack” but made clear that “guys wanted to come out and put on a good performance, and we did that.”

Said Woodson: “Tramon is a tremendous player, and he helped us dominate today.”

Tramon Williams goes up high to get one of the two interceptions Cutler served him up.

 Indeed, Bears coach Lovie Smith said there were plays called throughout the game for Marshall “that we couldn’t get off.”

This was as complete of a defensive game as I’ve seen the Packers play in some time, even dating back to the elite level they played during portions of their 2010 Super Bowl season. They limited tailbacks Matt Forte and Michael Bush to 85 yards on 21 carries, putting the Bears’ offensive line in the unenviable position of pass-blocking against rushers highly motivated to reach Cutler. As a result, the Packers’ blitz was highly effective. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers sent an extra rusher on 13 of Cutler’s 35 dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They sacked him on four of those blitzes and recorded interceptions on two others.

Most importantly, I thought, the Packers’ defense got after it in a way that permeated the entire game. Cutler was hit a total of 12 times, frustrating him to the point that he was screaming at his offensive linemen and even kicked Woodson after a third-quarter blitz. Bears left tackle Gabe Carimi was penalized 15 yards in the second quarter after retaliating to a shove from Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, and Bears players protested loudly when Packers cover man Rob Francois roughly shoved returner Devin Hester out of bounds.

You could see the tension on both sides of the ball, and even Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers gestured angrily and screamed at receiver James Jones after a fourth-quarter interception put the Bears in position for their only touchdown. (Rodgers said afterward he and James were “not on the same page” on the play call.) The Packers’ best offensive player Thursday night might have been tailback Cedric Benson, who helped set the physical tone by grinding out 81 tough rushing yards.

“There was definitely words out there,” Packers cornerback Sam Shields said. “You could tell Cutler was getting frustrated. We know what Cutler does. We were just out there as a defense trying to take advantage.”

Matthews, meanwhile, now has six sacks in two games this season after abusing Bears left tackle J’Marcus Webb all night. Matthews said he hopes the performance “becomes our theme for this defense and this team.”

Yes, the Packers revealed Thursday night how amused they were by the Bears’ new status as media darlings. But were you expecting their defense to be the group that realigned our thoughts on that? I’m not sure I was. So it goes. That’s, as they say, why they play the games.      Full story here

Defensive tinkering pays off vs. Bears

September 14, 2012 by  
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Written by Eric Baranczyk and Cliff Christl, Green Bay Press-Gazette correspondents

~There have been times in the past where it seemed as though the Green Bay Packers were reluctant to make changes in their lineup, the classic example being when Desmond Bishop would outplay the starting inside linebackers in the summer and then sit and watch A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett in the fall.

But finishing 32nd in defense one season and then getting trampled in the opener of the next apparently can create a sense of urgency.

Four days after the San Francisco 49ers devised a game plan that clearly focused on attacking Hawk and Jarrett Bush in the passing game, and exploiting Nick Perry’s inexperience at outside linebacker, the Packers reduced each one’s playing time and benefited from it in their 23-10 victory over Chicago.

Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk pressures Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler during the fourth quarter of Thursday night's game at Lambeau Field. Dan Powers/Gannett Wisconsin Media

Bush not only was replaced as a starter by Sam Shields, but in the dime by rookie Casey Hayward. Bush didn’t play a down on defense. Another rookie, Dezman Moses, subbed for Hawk in a pass defense package where only one lineman was on the field with four linebackers and six backs. As a result, Hawk’s number of plays was cut by almost a third. And Erik Walden played almost twice as many snaps as Perry.

In addition, rookie safety Jerron McMillian replaced M.D. Jennings in the nickel and dime; and two rookie linemen, Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels, made their first start and first appearance, respectively.

Make no mistake here, the Bears aren’t the 49ers and have nowhere near as good an offensive line. Plus, it’s much easier to play defense with a lead than from behind. But the Bears’ offensive skill players are just as talented as the 49ers, except at tight end.

Rookie defenders

It was clearly a much more inspired defensive effort by the Packers and maybe no play illustrated that better than 32-year-old Ryan Pickett chasing a receiver to the sideline and making the tackle. But with more youth on the field, the Packers looked as though they were playing faster and flying to the football more.

McMillian seems to bring an edge to the field that Jennings doesn’t have. McMillian is a thumper. So far, he also appears to have some cover skills and a nose for the ball. And after two games, he has been more assignment sure than Jennings, although all the Packers did was sit back in a cover two zone and make sure those big storks the Bears have at wide receiver didn’t beat them. That makes it pretty easy on a safety.

Moses was on the field for his pass rush, not his ability in coverage. And while he didn’t register a sack, he contributed to the pressure that rattled Jay Cutler all game.

Hayward’s cover skills are way better than Bush’s. Hayward has good hips, good balance and, it appears, good football instincts. He might not be the fastest corner, but those qualities should help compensate for some of that.

Another thing is that Hayward doesn’t have to waste all his energy, like Bush, just trying to cover a guy. With Bush, there’s nothing left in the tank once the ball is in the air.

Worthy played the run better and if his initial pass rush move was nullified he came back with a counter and kept his feet moving. He used his hands much better. On the Bears’ first offensive play, he was the one who set up D.J. Smith’s sack. Daniels is constantly working his hands, and he, too, just kept hustling.

The linebackers

Perry’s biggest problem against the 49ers was that he was getting reach blocked, getting hooked on tosses to the outside. The Bears didn’t have the linemen nor did they overload their formations to run outside. But Walden is much better at this point than Perry at holding the point. And Walden is more active rushing the passer, although Perry showed some improvement in that area in his limited snaps.

Last year Clay Matthews played predominantly to the left side. He seems much more comfortable playing on the right side. What’s more, he practiced this summer unlike last year.

Hawk and Smith were two others who played better than last week. Smith didn’t look as hesitant. Hawk played more physical and more downhill, although he’s just not one of those inside backers who’s ever going to play with his shoulder pads.

The cornerbacks

After the 49ers had virtually taken Tramon Williams out of the game at times with their formations, he was assigned to go wherever Brandon Marshall went, and he clearly won their battle. Williams’ performance was game-ball worthy. Shields played well, too. Unlike Bush, he at least has the ability to run and jump and play the ball.

Cedric Benson

The difference from the first game was that the Packers blocked for him. The linemen actually moved people. Against the 49ers, the best they ever got was a stalemate. Every running play looked like a muddled up scrum.

Keep in mind, though, that …… full story here

Packers claim a special victory over Bears

September 14, 2012 by  
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By Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

~GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers have had their share of games in the last eight seasons in which their special teams were out-pointed badly by coach Dave Toub’s traditionally elite units in Chicago.

Form was reversed Thursday night when the Packers dominated the Bears on special teams in a 23-10 victory at Lambeau Field.

The game turned late in the second quarter when the Packers boldly executed a faked field goal to perfection.

Holder Tim Masthay back-handed the ball to tight end Tom Crabtree as he sliced behind the formation from left to right and then charged unimpeded to the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown.

"We've been working on that play, it's got to be two or three years," coach Mike McCarthy said.

“We’ve been working on that play, it’s got to be two or three years,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “We were looking for a certain look from the Bears. They gave it to us. It was great execution on the part of our players.”

McCarthy said he was trying to send a message to his players with his call. It was the first touchdown pass by a Packers punter since Ron Widby threw 68 yards to Dave Davis against Houston in 1972.

“It really lifted our sideline up,” said McCarthy. “It was the big play in the game.”

The Bears, according to cornerback Charles Tillman, had a block on.

“It would have been a game-changer at that point in the game,” said Tillman. “They called a perfect play for the field-goal block that we put on.”

Meanwhile, Mason Crosby hit field goals from 48, 35 and 54 yards. The 54-yard boot beat by a yard the record by a Green Bay player at Lambeau Field.

Masthay continued his stellar punting, kicking five times for averages of 47.6 yards (gross) and 42 (net). He parked three inside the 20.

Chicago’s Devin Hester returned two punts for 8 yards and two kickoffs for 57 yards.

“Every punter in the league is trying to hang the ball up and pin me in the corner,” said Hester. “He is a real good punter.”

Bouncing back: The Packers won’t play another NFC North Division opponent until Nov. 18 when they go to Detroit.

“Good division win,” said McCarthy. “You definitely have to take care of home-field advantage. Coming off a short week I thought the preparation was reflected in tonight’s victory.

Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews (52) celebrates his sack of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler with teammates Jerel Worthy (99) and Mike Daniels (76) during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

“The defense was outstanding. Our specialists were right on the mark.

“Offensively, we were a little up and down. We need to do a better job of taking care of the football. That was disappointing.”

Lineup moves: Rookie Nick Perry started at left outside linebacker but was replaced by Erik Walden on the second series. It was Walden for almost the rest of the game.

Rookie Dezman Moses, the free agent from Tulane, also played extensively in a 3-2 alignment on passing downs.

“This is the first time we’ve had four outside linebackers we could really rotate in,” McCarthy said. “That was the plan going into the season.”

Walden was making his 2012 debut after sitting out the opener because of an NFL suspension.

At cornerback, Sam Shields got the start over Jarrett Bush, and rookie Casey Hayward took Shields’ spot as the nickel back. Bush didn’t play from scrimmage.

Back in business: After carrying nine times for 18 yards against the 49ers, Cedric Benson rushed 20 times for 81 yards to double his per-carry average.

“I thought Cedric is starting to look a lot more comfortable,” said McCarthy. “I thought it was important to get him back with his toes at 7 (yards) and play where he’s played his whole life.”

“Cedric Benson is one of those men that was put on this earth to run the football. We’ve been doing some things with him out of shotgun that he doesn’t have a ton of experience with.

“He made a step forward against a very active, disciplined front that presented a lot of challenges.”

Benson also caught four passes for 35 yards.

“He did a good job on some check-down throws, too,” general manager Ted Thompson said. “Keeps the chains moving. Keeps them off the field.”

Alex Green had two carries and John Kuhn played more than usual, both in two-back sets and on third downs.

Costly injury: The Bears lost running back Matt Forte with an ankle injury early in the third quarter just when it appeared he was getting into high gear.

“We may not be as good as we thought we were,” middle linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “This is disappointing, but not the end of the world.”

Green Bay Packers' Fan-Favorite Donald Driver catches a touchdown pass in front of Chicago Bears' Chris Conte (47) during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Counting playoffs, this was the 185th game between the two ancient rivals. The Bears now have lost five straight in Green Bay.

“Disappointing effort,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “I thought we would play better in a lot of different areas. We are better than what we showed tonight. All three phases. . . we didn’t play well. (But) this counts as one loss.”

Quarterback Jay Cutler finished with a passer rating of 28.2.

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Bears new offense is silenced

September 13, 2012 by  
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By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune

~GREEN BAY — At least the on-field camera for this nationally televised game didn’t capture Jay Cutler shouting vulgarities at his offensive coordinator.

That’s maybe the only way progress can be judged for the Bears, who were looking to make a major jump in class Thursday night against the rival Packers at Lambeau Field. But the frustration had to reach a familiar level.

The NFL hyped the matchup of Cutler vs. his Packers counterpart Aaron Rodgers. But Cutler was dreadful against Green Bay yet again.

With an upgraded offense that was supposed to be ready to match firepower with the Packers the Bears fired only blanks. Matters were made worse in the third quarter when running back Matt Forte was lost to a right ankle injury, but by that time the Packers were well on their way to a 23-10 victory.

Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler walks off the field after being sacked during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 23-10. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

In the league’s oldest rivalry, the Packers (1-1) continued their recent domination in the series, winning for the seventh time in the last eight meetings and for the fifth consecutive time on home turf. Surely, it will only add to questions for Cutler, who didn’t take kindly to inquiries during the week about his struggles against the Packers.

The quarterback showed disgust with teammates during the game, but it wasn’t like the NBC game last season in which a camera and microphone caught him sending a profane message to former coordinator Mike Martz.

The Bears (1-1) were coming off a 20-point shellacking of the Colts but were put up against a much greater test against the defending NFC North champions. It was an opportunity for the Bears to show off their upgraded offense and see just how far they have come in the effort to close the talent gap in the division. Team President Ted Phillips cited the Packers and Lions 81/2 months ago when he changed the complexion of the franchise and paired general manager Phil Emery with Lovie Smith — for at least one season.

One evaluation is simple. Cutler is not in a class with Rodgers. He was intercepted four times and completed only 11 of 27 passes for 126 yards. A 21-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kellen Davis with 6:49 to play was set up by a Tim Jennings interception. Cutler was sacked seven times and his passer rating was an anemic 28.2.

Rodgers completed 22 of 32 passes for 219 yards and threw a 26-yard touchdown to Donald Driver in the fourth quarter to put it out of reach.

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall went from passing game savior to invisible. Wide open in the end zone in the third quarter, a pass went off his hands. Largely with the help of dump-off passes from Cutler to Forte the Bears drove deep into Packers territory before the drop forced them to settle for a 45-yard Robbie Gould field goal.

Marshall didn’t make his first grab until the fourth quarter and Alshon Jeffery was a nonfactor. The Packers punctuated previous meetings by dominating the Bears wide receivers and it happened again after Cutler said “good luck” on Tuesday to Packers cornerbacks wanting to play press coverage.

Cutler wasn’t the only quarterback victimized by his receivers. If Rodgers’ targets had not let him down the score would have been more lopsided.

Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews (52) sacks Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler (6) during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

As impressive as the Bears were in their opener, the Packers were overrun 30-22 by the 49ers in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score would indicate. San Francisco lined up and whipped Green Bay at the point of attack. But the Bears couldn’t move the chains effectively in the first half and establish a running game.

The Packers led 13-0 at halftime thanks in large part to a perfectly executed fake field goal. Lining up for a 45-yarder by Mason Crosby, holder Tom Masthay flipped the ball to tight end Tom Crabtree and he went through a wide hole on the right side and had a clear path to the end zone as two linemen wiped out safety Chris Conte. It was a big gamble because the Packers faced fourth-and-26. But Crabtree rumbled 27 yards to the end zone in a rare breakdown by Bears special teams.

Crosby hit a 48-yard field goal early in the second quarter and then connected on a 35-yarder on the final play of the first half as the Packers converted Tramon Williams’ interception of Cutler at midfield for points.

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Packer Defense is Back, Sacks Cutler & Bears 23-10

September 13, 2012 by  
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — On a night when defenses dominated the NFL’s most storied rivalry, the Packers got creative – and it worked.

Punter Tim Masthay and backup tight end Tom Crabtree combined for a touchdown on a fake field goal in the second quarter, and the Green Bay Packers rattled and robbed Jay Cutler in a 23-10 victory over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Thursday.

Tom Crabtree scores the games first touchdown on a gutsy fake field goal call by Coach McCarthy, on a great shovel pass from punter and holder Tim Masthay.

Cutler threw four interceptions, including a pair to Tramon Williams . Facing a fierce Packers pass rush all night, Cutler was sacked seven times, including 3 1/2 for Clay Matthews . New Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall was held to two catches for 24 yards.

“Clay was incredible,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Defense causing turnovers, if they play like that we’re going to be tough to beat.”

The Bears also lost running back Matt Forte to an ankle injury.

The Packers rebounded from a season-opening loss to San Francisco.

“We got kicked in the (rear end) four days ago,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “And we were motivated.”

After Williams collected his second interception, Rodgers finally found the end zone in the fourth quarter, hitting Donald Driver for a 26-yard touchdown and a 23-3 lead.

Driver, who barely played in the loss to San Francisco, did a celebratory dance in the end zone, recalling his stint on the “Dancing With the Stars” reality television show.

But Rodgers threw an interception to Tim Jennings and the Bears finally cashed in. Facing fourth-and-7 at the Green Bay 21, Cutler threw a touchdown to Kellen Davis , cutting the lead to 23-10 with 6:49 remaining. But the Bears couldn’t mount a comeback as Matthews and the Packers kept turning up the heat.

Rodgers finished the game 22 of 32 for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

He got roughed up, too, getting sacked five times. Green Bay got a scare when the NFL MVP appeared to hurt his right arm early in the game, but he stayed in.

Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews (52) sacks Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler (6) during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

 Cutler was 11 for 27 for 126 yards, and visibly expressed his frustration throughout the game.

“If they want a quarterback that doesn’t care, they can find somebody else,” Cutler said.

Earlier in the week, a confident Cutler wished the Packers’ defensive backs “good luck” in trying to match up physically with a new-look wide receiver corps led by Marshall. Stalked by Williams for much of the night, Marshall didn’t see much of the ball. And he couldn’t convert his one big opportunity, dropping a potential touchdown in the third quarter.

“Well, we got to get better,” Rodgers said. “But our defense took a lot of trash in the media this week. They played incredible.”

Forte provided much of what little offense the Bears could muster before leaving the game in the third. He appeared to twist his right ankle while being tackled by Charles Woodson .

Mason Crosby hit three field goals for Green Bay, including a 54-yarder in the fourth quarter.

The biggest play of the night, though, came from the unlikely tandem of Masthay and Crabtree.

With the Packers facing fourth-and-26 on the Chicago 27 late in the second quarter, Masthay, the punter who also functions as the holder on field goals, and Crosby appeared to line up for a field goal attempt.

But Masthay took the snap and flipped the ball to Crabtree, who ran through a huge hole and streaked all the way to the end zone.

McCarthy said he was trying to send his team a message by calling the fake.

“That’s a gutsy call,” Rodgers said. “Worked out.”

Cutler then threw an interception to Williams near midfield with just over a minute left and the play was upheld on a replay review, giving the Packers one last chance to score. Rodgers marched the Packers into scoring range, and Crosby hit a 35-yard field goal.

Green Bay Packers' Tramon Williams (38) intercepts a pass in front of Chicago Bears' Brandon Marshall (15) and Charles Woodson (21) during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

 Cutler threw his second interception of the night late in the third, this time to Woodson, and the Packers appeared poised to score when Charles Tillman punched the ball away from Jermichael Finley and recovered the ball for the Bears.

Marshall missed a huge opportunity earlier in the third, when Cutler found him streaking wide open in the end zone – but the wide receiver couldn’t haul it in, and the Bears had to settle for a 45-yard field goal by Robbie Gould that cut the lead to 13-3.

The Packers were coming off a 30-22 home loss to the 49ers. Green Bay struggled to stop San Francisco’s balanced offense and came into a short week of preparation still looking for answers in the secondary.

On offense, the 49ers’ dominant defense held the Packers to seven points in the first three quarters before a late rally attempt came up short.

Chicago came into the season with high expectations for a beefed-up passing attack, and the arrival of Marshall was a hit right away. Renewing his partnership with Cutler from their days in Denver, Marshall caught nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown and the Bears put up 41 points in their season-opening victory over Indianapolis.

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