Game notes: Kenny Clark sacks Bears' hopes for a comeback

Backfield duo of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon sparks Packers’ offense

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Packers defensive lineman Kenny Clark records one of his two sacks on the Bears' final offensive drive in Sunday's 24-14 victory at Soldier Field.

There have been many times this year Kenny Clark has quietly been the interior force blowing up a run or pressuring a quarterback into the grasp of another Packers' pass-rusher.

With injuries strewn about the defense and Sunday's NFC North matchup with the Chicago Bears on the line, Green Bay's Pro Bowl defensive tackle did it all…and in a big way.

In the waning moments of the Packers' 24-14 win over the Bears at Soldier Field, Clark sacked rookie quarterback Justin Fields twice in the span of three plays to thwart any hopes Chicago had of a late comeback.

Before that, Fields moved the Bears all the way to the Green Bay 32-yard line with 3 minutes, 39 seconds left in regulation.

After the pair of sacks, Fields had to settle for a Hail Mary on fourth-and-26. Chicago was called for holding on the play, but Fields' pass still fell incomplete.

"Big-time players make big-time plays," second-year linebacker Rashan Gary said. "And that's what Kenny do, man. He's a hard-working guy, comes to work every day, high energy. That's just him."

Clark is off to the best start of his career, with 26 tackles (five for loss) and three sacks through the Packers' first six games. His production has been critical, too, with the defense playing without its two other Pro Bowlers: Za'Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander.

It's a big reason Head Coach Matt LaFleur joked in his postgame news conference that he felt ill after Clark was slow to get up after Khalil Herbert's 25-yard run in the first quarter.

Luckily, Clark was fine and returned to the game soon thereafter. The Packers weren't as fortunate last year when a Week 1 groin injury sidelined Clark for three games and hampered him through the first half of the 2020 season.

When asked about the key to his early-season success, Clark boils it down to his health and simplifying his assignments.

"It's just me being healthy. That's the biggest thing," Clark said. "As long as I'm healthy, I know that I'll be me. The second is just not worrying about anything but doing my job, making plays that come to me, being physical at the point of attack. I think my get-off this year has been a lot better than last year. That's a huge part of my game."

Clark wasn't the only one getting it done on defense Sunday. Longtime teammate Dean Lowry also made one of the biggest plays of the game at the end of the first half, when he sacked Fields for a 10-yard loss that pushed the Bears out of field-goal range.

The sixth-year veteran has been impactful in recent weeks. During the Packers' last two road games, Lowry registered seven tackles, 1½ sacks and a pair of deflected passes at the line of scrimmage.

"Dean's been doing a great job, especially the last two weeks," Clark said. "Dean doesn't understand how big and powerful he is at times, and then to add to that, he's a long guy. When he gets under your pads with that frame and he plays with good leverage and gets his hands on guys, guys go flying back."

One-two punch: Another week. Another big day for the Packers' backfield combination of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.

Jones and Dillon combined for 169 total yards and a touchdown on 27 touches against the Bears. It came after the duo registered 188 total yards and a TD last week in Cincinnati and 196 yards against Pittsburgh two weeks ago.

Dillon broke off the longest run of his career (36 yards) in the second quarter, while Jones' 12-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter gave Green Bay its first two-score lead at 17-7.

"We just try to be a spark," Jones said. "In our room, we say if we can be that spark, we'll definitely help this offense get going. That's one thing we try to do every time we get out there."

In just six games, Jones already has established a new career high with four receiving TDs for the season. That's the most for a Packers running back through his first six games since at least 1950. Paul Hornung (1966) and Herman Fontenot (1989) each had three.

Back in the fold: There might have been a little rust for Elgton Jenkins to knock off in his first game back, but the Packers' fill-in left tackle felt he started to settle in by the second half.

"First, second quarter, I was kind of slow to my assignment," said Jenkins, who missed three games after suffering an ankle injury last month vs. Detroit. "I guess that was probably just knocking the rust off, not playing a game in three weeks. Came out the second half, I feel like I played better.

"We played better as an offensive line and as an offense as a whole."

Good as gold: Sunday was a step in the right direction for the Packers' red, er, gold-zone offense. Green Bay went 3-of-4 inside the 20-yard line against Chicago, with its only miss still producing a 38-yard Mason Crosby field goal.

It all started with Jones carrying the ball four straight times for 21 yards down to the Bears' 1-yard line. From there, the Packers faked a push pass to a motioning Jones before quarterback Aaron Rodgers shoveled a pass to receiver Allen Lazard for a 1-yard TD.

"I felt like we definitely had some good stuff dialed up," Jones said. "You saw the little shovel to Laz. Since I've been here, we haven't ran a shovel, so that was cool to see.

"I'm glad it was to Laz. All that blocking and hard work he does, it paid off. I do feel like we improved a little bit in the red zone, gold zone, sorry. But we can always get better."

Soldier Field hosted a Week 6 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021.

Bombs away: With 10 seconds left in the third quarter, Corey Bojorquez aunched an 82-yard punt that netted 62 yards after it bounced through the back of the Bears' end zone.

It was the second-longest punt in franchise history, behind only Don Chandler's 90-yard effort in 1965.

Divisional dominance: With Sunday's victory, LaFleur joined former San Francisco 49ers coach Steve Mariucci as the only NFL head coaches to win 13 of their first 14 games in the division, according to Elias.

Furthermore, LaFleur is the first NFL head coach since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger to win his first seven divisional road games.

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