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Interceptions Play Crucial Part In Victory

The Packers were looking to carry over the takeaway trend that they started in the preseason, and they did just that as they intercepted Bears quarterback Jay Cutler more times than he ever had been in a game in his career. - More Packers-Bears Game Center


The Packers were looking to carry over the takeaway trend that they started in the preseason, and they did just that as they intercepted Bears quarterback Jay Cutler more times than he ever had been in a game in his career.

The Packers picked off Cutler four times on Sunday night in the 21-15 season-opening win, topping his previous career high of three interceptions set last year vs. Miami (Nov. 2) when he was with the Denver Broncos. It was the first time Green Bay posted four interceptions in a game since they registered five in the 2006 season finale at Chicago.

"That's Cutler's game," cornerback Tramon Williams said. "He's a gunslinger and he has a gun-slinging mentality. He came out and we knew he was going to throw the ball up to us so we were just ready and prepared for it."

Williams nearly picked off Cutler on Chicago's second possession of the game on his pass intended for wide receiver Earl Bennett near Green Bay's 15-yard line, but he dropped the ball with a lot of field in front of him. He got his hand on another pass the very next play on a throw again intended for Bennett, but the Packers were flagged for illegal contact to give the Bears a first down at Green Bay's 41.

On the very next play, Cutler threw deep down the middle to tight end Desmond Clark, but safety Nick Collins stepped in front of Clark for the pick at the Green Bay 12 and returned it 31 yards.

"We're not man-to-man," Collins said, talking about Green Bay's new 3-4 scheme under coordinator Dom Capers. "We're just sitting there reading the quarterback. Once you see it, you can make breaks. It just makes us play faster and in this defense our secondary is pretty quick."

Williams redeemed himself on the very next series, picking off Cutler's third-down pass deep down the middle intended for wide receiver Johnny Knox at Green Bay's 32 and returning it 67 yards all the way down to the Bears' 1-yard line. The play set up running back Ryan Grant's 1-yard plunge on the next play to put the Packers up 10-2.

"I saw the receivers coming upfield, they had one who stopped and the other one was going to run a choice route off of us," Williams said. "So I was on the outside, and he ended up going inside.

"So he tried running inside and 'Big' (Atari Bigby) was over the top and I just cut underneath that route. There was no need for me to be on top also. He (Cutler) just put it on a rope and I was just going to get it."

Midway through the second quarter with the Bears trailing 3-0, Cutler connected with wideout Johnny Knox on a deep pass down the right sideline for a 68-yard pickup all the way to Green Bay's 8. After the Bears failed to pick up any yardage on the next two plays, defensive end Johnny Jolly stepped in front of Cutler's short dump-off pass intended for running back Matt Forte for Green Bay's second interception to extinguish the Bears' best scoring chance to that point in the game.

"We were running a blitz," said Jolly, about the first interception of his career. "When I got to my gap, the tackle was trying to throw me down inside and luckily he kind of pulled me back toward the way the running back was going. I was reacting at the same time and Cutler threw it right to me."

{sportsad300}Jolly returned the interception just 2 yards before slipping, but clearly had his eye on more yardage.

"Me and Jolly, we always talk back and forth and he feels like he is a DB and he looked like one on that play," cornerback Charles Woodson said. "That was just an incredible play. A one-handed grab on a screen play, he read it well. From what he tells me if he hadn't slipped we would have seen his jets. Too bad he fell."

Jolly's interception was aided by pressure on Cutler on the edge from right outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who came through untouched to get in Cutler's face.

"He definitely is a great scrambler and he can move around the pocket, so it was important for us to not just let him sit back there and fire away," Matthews said. "We definitely were able to get some pressure on him and hopefully that led to a few of his interceptions. I think that's what we're going to try to do to every quarterback, keep them on their heels and get after them."

Matthews exchanged words with the Bears quarterback as he blocked Cutler down the field.

"I didn't know the play was over," Matthews said. "I was actually asking him in the middle of blocking him if the play was over. He wasn't interested in talking to me."

After quarterback Aaron Rodgers found wide receiver Greg Jennings for a 50-yard touchdown pass to go up 21-15, the Bears had one last chance, taking over at their own 38 with just over a minute to go. But on the very first play of the final drive, veteran cornerback Al Harris jumped the route to pick off Cutler's short pass to Knox, sealing the victory.

"I think it's just the way we're playing as a defense," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "We're playing with a lot more vision. Dom does an excellent job of calling the game, keeping the pace and the tempo up for our players. I think it's tailored for our players.

"They've done a great job of totally buying into this scheme. They were the key to the victory tonight."

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