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Game got 'real weird,' but Packers responded the right way

Win over Bears yet another example of how resilient this team is

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY – Resiliency is simply in this team's DNA.

It doesn't matter whether it's injuries, bad moments, deficits, or outright losses, the Green Bay Packers under Matt LaFleur find ways to recover.

They just do.

The Packers dealt with a lot of "stuff" Sunday night against the Bears, to put it mildly, and still walked away rather comfortably with a 45-30 victory.

The offense started with two sacks and a fumbled handoff in its first nine snaps. The defense gave up two explosive gains for touchdowns. And atrocious special-teams play provided more obstacles. Plus veteran right tackle Billy Turner went down with a knee injury.

But a 10-0 hole turned into a 14-10 lead. Then a 24-14 deficit with 92 seconds left in the second quarter became a 35-27 lead just over 6½ minutes into the third, and they pulled away from there.

Down 10 twice, still win by 15. No sweat, but more importantly …

"There was no panic," LaFleur said. "A lot of times, that can trickle down from the coaches if there is panic, and I thought our staff did a nice job of just, 'Hey, guys, here's what we need to get corrected.'"

Halftime, with the score 27-21 Bears, apparently consisted of quarterback Aaron Rodgers telling the team to take a deep breath before LaFleur went into those corrections. Then Preston Smith had some more pointed, passionate comments.

By staying calm, the Packers helped settle down the game as a whole after a barrage of big-play touchdowns by both sides in the second quarter – three offensive, one defensive and one special-teams score covering 290 yards in five plays – made the NFL's oldest rivalry look more like a video game than anything resembling the black-and-blue division.

"That got real weird, man," receiver Davante Adams said. "Haven't been a part of one like that. I have now. Hopefully we don't have to deal with that again."

But if they do, there's reason to believe they'll find a way to manage it.

If the next-man-up mentality can be considered engrained by now, so can the no-flinch mindset.

The fact that in three years the Packers have lost nine regular-season games under LaFleur, and are 9-0 in the games following those defeats, isn't just a cool stat. It's how this team is wired, and the strands that make up that DNA were on display over and over Sunday night.

The hope is that whatever remains to be overcome over the last four games of the regular season, another loss won't be on the list, because the Packers probably can't afford one.

At 10-3, Green Bay is in great shape, and waiting to see how 10-2 Arizona fares on Monday night. But defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay is also 10-3 after an overtime triumph over Buffalo Sunday, and the Buccaneers' four remaining opponents have a cumulative 19-33 record, by far the easiest schedule on paper of the NFC contenders.

Lambeau Field hosted a Sunday night matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears on Dec. 12, 2021.

Anything can happen, of course, because this is the NFL, but the odds are reasonable that a fourth loss could kill any hopes of the No. 1 seed, which gets the only bye plus home-field advantage.

LaFleur's teams have finished strong, with five wins to close the 2019 regular season and six last year. The Packers will need to match that six, beginning with the pre-bye win over the Rams, to get to 14-3.

"There's a lot to clean up, obviously, in all three phases," LaFleur said.

That there is, but other stuff is bound to go wrong, too, and yet these Packers know how to roll with it.

Rebound, reset, recover. It's what they do. It's who they are. It's what'll get them where they want to go.

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