CHICAGO – The Packers played it smart with Romeo Doubs on Sunday and the second-year receiver responded with the first two-touchdown performance of his young career.
Coming off a hamstring injury that sidelined him for two weeks, Doubs caught an 8-yard TD off a slant in the first quarter and a 4-yard TD on a one-on-one fade in the fourth.
Both plays were pivotal in Green Bay's 38-20 win over the Bears at Soldier Field, especially with starting wideout Christian Watson unable to go Sunday due to his own hamstring issue.
The Packers breathed a collective sigh of relief when Doubs returned to practice on Thursday. While rookies Jayden Reed and Malik Heath started against the Bears, Green Bay worked in Doubs on most third downs, including on his first TD.
"The first one, some sort of zone and I was able to get across the safety's face with nobody in the zone area," Doubs said. "The second one, it was just one-on-one and I made the play."
The second one came at the end of an interesting sequence in which Love connected with Reed on a deep corner for 18 yards on third-and-8 to the Chicago 41.
On the next play, Love fumbled the snap, recovered the ball, and fired a 37-yard completion to a wide-open Luke Musgrave, setting up Doubs' 4-yard TD on the next play.
Left tackle David Bakhtiari had a good laugh over the calamity that ended with the pass to Musgrave.
"When I heard that play call, I was like, 'Yes.' That play was money all practice," Bakhtiari deadpanned. "I was just on 'em, like, please call this at some point ... It was that wide open. You could fumble it, flip it up, roll over your back shoulder and then just toss it because the closest guy was like 20 yards and that's what it was in practice, too."
Despite Watson's absence, Love fashioned a 123.2 passer rating while completing passes to six different receivers. Doubs' four catches led the way and totaled 26 yards.
Best of all, Doubs said his hamstring felt great throughout the game. He moved without issue and felt unencumbered running routes.
"At some point, we were pretty much walking up the staircase, if you would say," Doubs said. "In the end, we were able to get going. We were able to get Aaron and AJ Dillon the ball, and the receivers outside – Jayden made a couple plays. I made a couple plays. Malik, Dontayvion (Wicks), again, now it's just building off this win."
Defense contains Fields: The Packers' highly touted defense lived up to the hype in the opener, neutralizing Bears' ultra-athletic quarterback Justin Fields and forcing two turnovers.
Fields finished 24-of-37 for 216 yards with one touchdown and a pick-six that Packers linebacker Quay Walker intercepted and returned for a 37-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
More importantly, Fields added just 59 yards on nine scrambles. That's a minor victory considering the third-year quarterback was the NFL's seventh-leading rusher last season.
"He's a really good quarterback and we knew he was going to be out there running around," defensive lineman Kenny Clark said. "The main thing for us was just keeping him contained. I think we did it for the most part. Proud of how we played for sure."
Clark made his presence felt, too. He combined on a sack of Fields with second-year defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt in the third quarter. Clark was then credited with forcing a fumble on the play, which was recovered by cornerback Rasul Douglas.
Wyatt also pressured Fields in the fourth quarter on the pass Walker intercepted in the middle of the field, the first INT of the former first-round pick's career.
"It was perfect," said safety Darnell Savage of Walker's INT. "I was yelling at him all week in practice because he wasn't getting back far enough. Today, he got his opportunity and he made a couple people miss, too, and went and scored."
Before the takeaways, Green Bay's defense set the tone early when it stopped Chicago on a pair of sneak attempts on third- and fourth-and-1 on the Bears' first possession. The turnover on downs gave the Packers' offense the ball at the Chicago 40 and led to its first touchdown-producing drive.
All told, the Bears finished with 311 yards but 96 of those came during the final five minutes when the game was out of reach.
"Throughout this whole entire offseason, we just believed in ourselves," linebacker Rashan Gary said. "We turned off the outside noise, a lot of people on this team, we block it out and we believe in each other. And everybody on this entire team, from top to bottom, wants to improve on the small things. Today was a good start of blocking out the noise and us keep working and continuing the same thing."
The Green Bay Packers kicked off the 2023 regular season against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023.