Ground Game Rules The Day

The Packers weren’t supposed to be able to run the ball against the Bears, and Chicago’s vulnerability was supposed to be its pass defense. But when Ryan Grant burst through the left side for a 35-yard run on his second carry of the game, it was a sign this game wasn’t following the script. - More Packers-Bears Game Center

The Packers weren't supposed to be able to run the ball against the Bears, and Chicago's vulnerability was supposed to be its pass defense.

But when Ryan Grant burst through the left side for a 35-yard run on his second carry of the game, it was a sign this game wasn't following the script.

The Bears came into Lambeau Field with the league's fourth-ranked run defense, but the Packers ran, ran and ran some more, piling up a season-high 200 yards rushing, including a season-best 145 from Grant to key a 37-3 blowout on Sunday.

"It wasn't about them. It was about us executing, playing a physical, downhill style of ball," said Grant, who averaged 5.8 yards on his 25 carries. "Playing fast and finishing what we do. They have a very good front seven, but we wanted to make them adjust to what we do."

The Packers had established more consistency on the ground the past two weeks, with Grant picking up 4.5 yards per carry against formidable run defenses in Tennessee and Minnesota. But the effort against the Bears was nothing short of stunning, particularly with the big chunks of yardage the Packers churned out.

Grant's early 35-yard run was his longest since a 57-yarder in Week 1 against the Vikings. And his 18-yard run late in the second quarter to set up his own 4-yard plunge for a TD, along with his 22-yarder in the second half to set up a TD pass to Donald Lee, were both longer than any of his rushes since Week 1.

"We have a lot of confidence in our run game," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "We feel like we've been close to getting things going, and Ryan's been running the ball really well lately. We knew it was going to be tough sledding, but the guys on offense, they dominated the line of scrimmage today."

The Bears were coming off a game in which they held Tennessee to just 20 rushing yards, the same team that rushed for 178 against the Packers a week earlier.

But the Packers showed how prominent the run was in their game plan on their second offensive possession. After an incomplete pass on first down, Grant ran for 7 and 3 yards on the next two snaps, taking a big hit from Chicago safety Mike Brown on the latter play that knocked the wind out of him.

But the ground game didn't let up with Brandon Jackson stepping in, as Jackson carried the ball on the next five snaps for 30 more yards. By that time, the Packers already had surpassed the Bears' season average of 74.9 yards per game allowed on the ground.

Though that drive ultimately ended with an interception, the Packers had established they could run the ball on the Bears, and kept doing it. Jackson finished with 50 yards on 10 carries, and even fullback John Kuhn and Rodgers got into the act. Kuhn picked up two first downs on third-and-1 dives, while Rodgers converted a fourth-and-1 with a sneak.

"We've shown how good we can be when we go out there and execute," center Scott Wells said. "There it is.

"He ran hard today and got a lot of extra yards on his own. He was able to get through the first level and make guys miss on the second and third level."

Grant's 105 yards in the first half on 13 carries marked the first time a Green Bay back went over 100 yards in a half in the Mike McCarthy era. The last time that was accomplished was in 2005 by rookie Samkon Gado, who had 103 yards in the first half of a late-season game against Detroit.

"It felt great," Wells said of the early success. "I remember looking up at one time and he was averaging 11 yards a carry. He had five carries for 55 yards. Anytime you're able to do that and be that successful, especially in the first quarter, first half, it opens up a lot of opportunities in the passing game, which is what we were able to do. In the end, we were a little more balanced."

{sportsad300}Indeed, the Bears clamped down a bit against the run in the second half, but the damage had been done and Rodgers took care of the offense from there. He completed 13-of-16 passes for 127 yards and a TD in the second half, a rating of 120.6 that pushed his full-game rating above 100 for the sixth time this season.

Much of the credit goes to the offensive line, which not only opened the holes on the ground but kept Rodgers clean (no sacks, no QB hits) after by far the unit's roughest day last week in Minnesota.

"With all the questions about the sacks and different things, I think they responded big-time," Grant said. "They did a great job on Chicago's front seven, who has been good all season. They should be proud of how we played and we need to keep that approach the rest of the season."

The dominant ground game also produced a lopsided advantage in time of possession for Green Bay. The Packers held the ball for 37 minutes, 28 seconds, to just 22:32 for the Bears, four seconds short of a full-quarter disparity.

"We were able to control the ball, run the ball, and when you're running the ball the way we were able to today, it definitely takes a lot of stress off of your defense," receiver Greg Jennings said. "Your defense can pin their ears and do whatever they need to do. We kept those guys off the field, they performed at a high level, and we were able to perform at a high level too."

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