If you haven’t purchased tickets for that train ride to New Orleans, you might want to hold off on those Super Bowl plans for a couple of weeks.
Not only did the Bears look like something less than a playoff team in a stumbling, bumbling — and at times, stupefying — performance Thursday night, but any notion that the Packers were finished because of a Week 1 loss to a very good Niners team was clearly more fantasy than reality.
Maybe the Bears bought into all the hype, based on how they approached the game, but if you’re going to yap the way the Bears did before a division game, what you probably want to do is show up for the game.
Yet, for as much talking as Jay Cutler did this week, he did even more yelling during the game, and most of it was directed at his offensive linemen — usually J’Marcus Webb.
And though Aaron Rodgers had his own protection problems behind a shaky offensive line, Rodgers kept it together and calmly led his team to a 23-10 victory over the Bears in Green Bay on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, Cutler looked like the guy who arrived here four years ago, blaming everyone and everything while playing a terrible game himself, unable to back up his talk leading up to the game.
Under pressure, Rodgers was brilliant, looking off safeties, using pump fakes and play action and generally hitting his receivers in the hands. Despite several drops, Rodgers kept on fighting and eventually put away a Bears defense that brought a better game than most expected.
Cutler, on the other hand, couldn’t handle the frustration of horrible protection — getting hit 14 times with 7 sacks — and several dropped passes, including a touchdown pass bungled by Brandon Marshall.
He was dinged constantly, but there was still no excuse for some of the bad throws, holding the ball too long and his 4 interceptions were the difference in the game.
What was billed as one of the shootouts of the NFL season turned into an old-fashioned, black-and-blue slugfest, a terrific sign for the Bears’ defense but also a reminder that the Chicago offense will only be as good as the offensive line allows.
Game 2 of the 2012 season looked a lot like the beatings of the last few seasons, with Cutler getting hit hard and often, and it had a devastating effect on the Bears’ quarterback.
What’s truly stunning is Phil Emery and Lovie Smith guaranteed us the offensive line would be fine this year, and completely ignored it in free agency and the draft.
They seemed to be the only ones in Chicago who didn’t understand the problem, and they’re going to have themselves a real problem if they can’t keep Cutler sane and off his back.
If the game itself wasn’t bad enough, Matt Forte left in the third quarter with an ankle injury and never returned, giving offensive coordinator Mike Tice just one more reason to lose sleep this weekend.
There was almost nothing good to come out of Game 2, but the reality is the Bears were expected to be 1-1 after two games, and that’s where they are.
They’ve got an extended rest before getting the Rams at home Sept. 23, when they should improve to 2-1 and get a chance to feel good about themselves again.
Still, Cutler must find a way to keep his wits about him when those nearest him have left the QB running for his life, especially when they face good teams down the road that possess a strong pass rush.
Tell me you haven’t heard this story before.
ŸListen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score’s “Hit and Run” show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.