'More out there' for Packers' defense in turnover department

Couple of missed opportunities changed the fourth quarter vs. Bears

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LB Christian Kirksey and S Raven Greene

GREEN BAY – The Packers' defense is getting things turned around when it comes to turnovers.

But Sunday night's three takeaways against the Bears, which gave Green Bay eight in its last four games and now 12 on the season, wasn't a peak performance in Head Coach Matt LaFleur's mind.

"The thing is, there's more out there," LaFleur said Monday in a Zoom call with reporters from his house, due to the NFL-mandated shutdown of team facilities for the first two days of this week.

"The potential is there. That could have easily been a five-turnover performance."

Safety Darnell Savage's two interceptions and Za'Darius Smith's strip-sack, with Preston Smith returning the fumble for a touchdown, collectively had a huge impact in the 41-25 triumph.

But LaFleur also mentioned a couple of times cornerback Kevin King had his hands on Mitch Trubisky passes, and another time Trubisky put the ball on the ground on the read-option.

With five regular-season games left, the Packers will need a barrage of turnovers to match last year's total of 25, but the opportunities being there of late is a good sign for the stretch run. Green Bay just has to cash in.

King dropping a potential interception in the end zone late in the game stood out because Chicago's ensuing touchdown, its second of the fourth quarter, got the Bears within two scores after the Packers led 41-10 heading into the last period.

As the Bears put together the late scoring drives of 65 and 82 yards, the good news was they didn't make any big plays and were forced to use a ton of clock. The bad news was the Packers allowed a fourth-down conversion that kept the first drive alive when a stop there with 13 minutes left would have allowed for massive substitutions across the board the rest of the way.

"Obviously, you'd like to close it out at the end of the game," LaFleur said. "There's no doubt about that. There were a few mistakes that we made that are totally within our control, that if you make those plays, we're not even talking about this right now.

"It's that fourth-and-11, we lost leverage on an out cut. That can't happen. Also, the missed interception in the end zone, we gotta make those plays."

What LaFleur liked best about the defensive outing, aside from the three turnovers, was the third quarter showing.

Chicago had scored just before halftime to get within 27-10 and got the ball to start the second half.

View some of the best photos from the Sunday Night Football Packers-Bears matchup at Lambeau Field on Nov. 29, 2020.

But the Packers held the Bears to just one first down before getting back-to-back sacks to force a punt. Then, after Savage's second interception on Chicago's next possession, the Packers got another three-and-out.

Reclaiming momentum defensively in that third quarter didn't happen the week before at Indianapolis, and it was a huge factor in the overtime defeat. On offense and defense, the Packers got command of the Bears game after having it elude them in the Colts game.

"To start the second half, that was outstanding defense," LaFleur said. "It goes back to that fourth quarter. You'd like to be able to put the nail in the coffin at that moment."

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