It is a game I'll spend a few weeks thinking about, not sure quite how to wrap-up a performance so surreal and often downright bizarre. But there were several key factors leading up to the Bears loss yesterday.
Jay Cutler's First-Half Inaccuracy. Cutler missed an open Devin Hester on two throws early and both could have resulted in touchdowns. Cutler's decision not to throw an open screen to Matt Forte - the best offensive player in the entire game - and instead lob a soon-to-be intercepted ball to Johnny Knox was a killer.
Todd Collins Playing in the NFC title game. Maybe I haven't been paying attention but I couldn't believe that Collins re-jumped Caleb Hanie on the depth chart. Todd Collins stinks and this decision was inexcusably mindblowing. Hanie played with a lot of heart and showed a lot of talent but I wonder how much better he would have played if he'd gotten four quarters of action against the Pack in Week 17.
Penalties. The field position battle, specifically in the second half, was won by the Packers due to an alarming amount of penalties called against (1) Julius Peppers and (2) the entirety of the Bears secondary. It seems that every time the defense made a play to change things around, a yellow flag appeared on the field.
Brian Urlacher. Urlacher played a beautiful game for the most part but you can't let Aaron Rodgers tackle you! You simply can't! Not in a game like that! And you also can't let a runner juke you on a screen pass in open field for a second-and-far-too-long conversion (and then look down like it's the turf's fault). Urlacher was everywhere on the field yesterday but he had an opportunity to deliver a legendary performance and he simply did not.
Tim Masthay vs. Brad Maynard. Masthay did everything right for the Packers, pinning Devin Hester to the sideline and now allowing a field-position flip at any time. Maynard was early-season Maynard, weak-legged and unreliable.
Brad Maynard, Brian Urlacher, Caleb Hanie, Chicago Bears, Devin Hester, Green Bay Packers, Jay Cutler, Julius Peppers, Lovie Smith, Tim Masthay, Todd Collins