GREEN BAY – The Packers knocked off the archrival Bears, 27-10 on Sunday night at Lambeau Field to even their record at 1-1.
Here are five takeaways from the triumph:
1. Matt LaFleur delivered on his promise.
The two backs touched the ball a combined 37 times (33 rushes, four receptions) for 237 yards (193 rushing, 44 receiving), with Jones doing the bulk of the damage and scoring two touchdowns.
Jones regularly made Chicago tacklers miss en route to 132 rushing yards and a TD on 15 carries, and he added three catches for 38 yards and another score on a flip pass off jet motion. Jones' 18 touches more than doubled last week's eight, yet the team captain never complained and just got ready for whatever workload was coming his way.
"Aaron Jones man, he was absolutely electric," LaFleur said. "Every time I'd think he was going down he'd somehow find a way to squirt his way through. And he's just a hell of a competitor and he's a guy that just embodies everything that you want in a football player – the way he works, how selfless he is, how he cheers for his teammates, how he supports his teammates. They don't make many like this guy."
2. The offense was close to as good as can be in the first half.
The opening drive stalled and only produced a field goal, and there was one three-and-out mixed in during the second quarter. But touchdown drives of 75, 54 and 67 yards put the Packers in command, up 24-7 at intermission.
One of those scoring drives included converting on second-and-28 in two plays, and then two snaps later finding the end zone for the first two-score lead of the night.
"You could argue that might've been the most pivotal play in the game," LaFleur said of the wide receiver screen on second-and-28 to rookie Romeo Doubs, which picked up 20 yards and gave the Packers a chance to keep the drive going. Randall Cobb came out of the backfield to catch a third-down pass to move the chains, and the Packers kept the momentum.
For the game, quarterback Aaron Rodgers wound up an efficient 19-of-25 for 234 yards with two TDs and a 131.1 passer rating, completing throws to eight different pass-catchers.
3. The defense absolutely dominated the first half after a rough opening drive.
Chicago drove 71 yards for a TD on its first possession, never even needing to convert on third down. From there, the Bears didn't get another first down until midway through the third quarter.
Four consecutive three-and-outs, which included sacks by Preston Smith and Rashan Gary, plus tackles for loss by Rasul Douglas and Gary, left the Bears with just 91 yards of total offense following their first possession of the second half. Smith added a second sack in the fourth quarter.
"All in all, our defense regrouped," LaFleur said. "Every time I looked out there, we were playing pretty physical.
"To give up 10 points in this league, that's pretty special."
The Packers didn't like giving up 180 rushing yards, including 122 to the elusive David Montgomery on just 15 carries, but QB Justin Fields was rendered ineffective as a passer. He was just 7-of-11 for 70 yards and was intercepted by Jaire Alexander late in the game to drop his passer rating to 43.8.
"Ten points to an NFL offense is a great day," Rodgers said, "and we should win every single one of those games."
4. Two Packers offensive miscues prevented a true blowout, but the defense and offense both recovered with clutch moments.
Rodgers botched a handoff with Dillon in the third quarter, and center Josh Myers fired a shotgun snap too soon that hit motion man Christian Watson on the way by. The turnover and lost yardage ruined two drives and gave the Bears a chance.
Chicago kicked a field goal to get within 24-10 after the fumble recovery and then was on the verge of making it a one-score game. Behind 55 yards on two consecutive runs by Montgomery and Khalil Herbert, the Bears drove all the way to the 1-yard line, only for Fields to get stuffed on a fourth-and-goal keeper, preserving Green Bay's two-TD advantage with eight minutes left.
"It felt like that was 'game' when that happened," Rodgers said.
The offense then made it count, coming out from the 1 and grinding out one first down on the ground. Two snaps later, a play-action deep shot for receiver Sammy Watkins (three catches, 93 yards) picked up 55 yards and set up the clinching field goal.
See scenes from the Sunday night matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Sept. 18, 2022.
5. The Packers got two big pieces back from injury, and it showed.
Right tackle Elgton Jenkins returned from his ACL rehab two days shy of 10 months since his original injury, and no one could say enough about what it meant to have him back.
"I really don't think if he's not in the lineup, we don't win that game," LaFleur said. "It transcends his level of play, what he's able to bring for us."
Receiver Allen Lazard also returned after missing Week 1 with an ankle injury, and even though he caught just two passes for 13 yards, one went for a touchdown, and as usual his blocking prowess was on display on the perimeter.
The Packers are still waiting for left tackle David Bakhtiari's return, but the positives health-wise Sunday were hard to ignore.
"You felt their juice out there," Jones said. "Their presence alone in the huddle, it sparks everybody and gives everybody that juice … we've got our guys back."