Packers claim a special victory over Bears
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 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.
“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.”
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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