Rating the Bears
Quarterback: 1 ball
He looked a lot better in the second half and maybe he was nervous early on, but Jay Cutler - plain and simple -- was pretty bad in his debut.
Running backs: 2 balls
Matt Forte (55 yards) was steady all night, particularly as the game went on. After a drop early on, Jason McKie came up with a nice grab late,
Receivers: 2.5 balls
Ah, so Earl Bennett can play. Good to see. Bennett caught 7 passes for 66 yards. Devin Hester was solid as well, with 4 catches for 90 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown grab. Greg Olsen was awfully quiet
Defensive line: 2.5 balls
Adewale Ogunleye (2 sacks) was the man on Sunday. Alex Brown had 5 tackles and Mark Anderson (4) was an active force. Tommie Harris had just 1 tackle.
Linebackers: 2 balls
Despite playing without Brian Urlacher in the second half and Pisa Tinoisamoa for most of the game, this unit probably performed about as well as could be expected.
Secondary: 1 ball
Not a good night for this crew. The lone bright spot was Danieal Manning providing a much-needed spark with a safety on Aaron Rodgers.
Special teams: 2 balls
Robbie Gould was solid (2-for-2), as was Brad Maynard (averaging nearly 50 yards), but running a fake punt in your own end in the fourth quarter and coming up short? Not good.
Coaching: 1.5 balls
You have to beat the Packers.
- Mike Spellman
GREEN BAY, Wis. - Sunday night's first-half offensive meltdown in front of a national-TV audience wasn't what the Bears had in mind when they traded Kyle Orton and three high draft picks to the Denver Broncos five months ago to get Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler.
The second-half rise from the ashes was exactly what they were looking for, but it wasn't enough in a 21-15, season-opening loss.
An otherwise excellent defensive effort was obliterated on a single bad play at the worst time. And then, after it looked as if Cutler finally had gotten in sync with his receivers after a rocky start, he was picked off for a fourth time, clinching the loss.
Cutler's 4-interception performance was the first of his NFL career, and he finished with just 17 completions on 36 attempts for 277 yards, 1 TD and a passer rating of 43.2.
Miscommunication with his still-new teammates accounted for some of Cutler's problems.
"It's still a learning process," Cutler said. "We haven't been together that long, but that's no excuse."
While Cutler's gaffes were the most obvious, there were other miscues that doomed the Bears.
Leading 12-10, long snapper Patrick Mannelly called for an ill-advised fake punt on fourth-and-11 thinking the Packers had 12 men on the field. But the extra defender got off in time and the play was stuffed after a 4-yard gain by Garrett Wolfe.
That resulted in a 39-yard Mason Crosby field goal and a 13-12 Packers lead with 10:10 remaining.
"I didn't see the guy run off the field," Mannelly said. "I wish I would have, I never would have done that. Just a dumb play on my part not seeing that."
But the Bears came right back, with Cutler throwing to Earl Bennett for 11 yards and then to Devin Hester for 23 down to the Green Bay 31-yard line. Eight-yard catches by Greg Olsen, his first of the night, and fullback Jason McKie, plus 3 runs by Matt Forte, made it first-and-goal at the 4.
But the 14-play, 69-yard drive died at the 3, leaving it to Robbie Gould to put the Bears back on top 15-13 with a 21-yard field goal with 2:35 left.
After that it was up to the defense to hold the lead, but it couldn't. On third-and-1 from midfield, Aaron Rodgers faked play action and found Greg Jennings, who had easily beaten Nate Vasher, for a 50-yard TD with 1:11 left for the victory.
Before that play the Bears' defense permitted just 176 yards, but it didn't create any turnovers to offset the 4 that Cutler allowed.
Asked to rate his return to defensive playcalling, head coach Lovie Smith said: "It wasn't good enough. It's not a good defensive effort if you don't get a turnover."
In his Bears debut, Cutler was intercepted three times in the first half and completed just 8 of 22 passes for 127 yards and a passer rating of 16.9.
It was the first time in his four-year career that he has been picked off three times in a half and only the second time he has been intercepted three times in a whole game.
Thanks to a stout defensive effort, the Bears only trailed 10-2 at the half, with their only points coming on a Danieal Manning sack of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the end zone for a safety.
Cutler's third interception was the most costly. On a pass intended for fifth-round rookie wide receiver Johnny Knox, Cutler, moving to his right in the pocket and throwing across his body, was intercepted by Tramon Williams and returned 67 yards to the Bears' one-yard line, where the Packers scored on the first play for a 10-2 lead with 4:36 left in the first half.
But Cutler came out firing in the second half, drilling a 21-yard crossing route to Bennett, 5 plays before dropping a 36-yard TD pass exquisitely into the hands of Hester sprinting down the sideline behind Charles Woodson. That moved the Bears to within 10-9 just 4:46 into the third quarter.
On the Bears' next possession, Cutler passes of 15 yards to Bennett and 23 yards to tight end Desmond Clark set up Robbie Gould's 47-yard field goal that put the Bears on top for the first time of the night at 12-10 with 3:51 left in the third quarter.
"I still think we're going to be a good football team," Cutler said. "There's no reason to panic. One loss isn't the end of the season."