GREEN BAY – Positive signs for the Packers were plentiful Sunday night.
Receiver Allen Lazard got back in the end zone. Safety Darnell Savage got his first two interceptions of the season. Pass rusher Preston Smith had a big game with a scoop-and-score, plus a sack.
But to pinpoint the most important development from Green Bay's dominant 41-25 victory over Chicago, look no further than the running game.
The Packers got the ground game back on track in a big way, and against a darn good defensive front at that, even if the Bears were missing lineman Akiem Hicks.
Green Bay rushed for 182 yards, its most by far since Week 2, in a performance that makes one of the league's top-ranked offenses look even more formidable heading into the stretch run.
"That's attitude football and that's something we have to carry over," All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari said. "That's a standard we need to keep week in and week out.
"That's a good front with or without (number) '96' (Hicks). We were on attack all night and it showed. It's something we can definitely build off of."
The Packers hadn't posted more than 111 rushing yards in a game since Week 2, but the success on the ground against the Bears made so much of the passing game look easy.
Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, who had 17 carries each and combined for 163 rushing yards, did most of their damage between the tackles as the Packers controlled the line of scrimmage. As a result, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was deadly on play-action passes and wasn't sacked.
It marked the 10th time in 11 games this season Rodgers has been sacked once or not at all. The Bears' fierce pass rush only threatened him a couple of times in 31 drop-backs.
"For a soon-to-be 37-year-old, that's my dream," Rodgers said. "That's an amazing feeling to go home and not be feeling like an almost-37-year-old. I've been feeling really, really good all season, so I appreciate those boys up front. This was a really important game for us."
The offensive line's pass protection was outstanding, even amidst some position shuffling once again. But any unit will admit it makes its own job easier by running the ball successfully. It gets the play-caller into a rhythm, which keeps the defense on its heels, and the results follow.
For the second game in a row, the Packers did some impressive work against one of the league's top defenses. A week ago, Green Bay scored 31 points at Indianapolis before putting up 34 on Chicago (the defense scored one TD).
But last week didn't feel the same, and not just because 28 of the 31 points came in the first half. The Packers didn't run the ball nearly as well (66 yards) against the Colts, which made their production less sustainable over the course of the game.
Lambeau Field hosted a matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020.
With the running game working, the Packers looked nearly unstoppable in scoring touchdowns on five of six possessions through three quarters against the Bears. Another gear was visible even without a single gain of 40-plus yards. The longest play of the night was tight end Robert Tonyan's 39-yard TD.
"I think it gave us confidence as an offense that we are where we need to be," Rodgers said. "We had all of our guys back and we looked like what we thought we would look like at the beginning of the season before all the injuries."
Center Corey Linsley's knee injury could keep the offensive line in flux a bit moving forward. But with Rodgers playing at an MVP level – his 33 TD passes have him on pace to surpass his career-high of 45 from 2011 – AND the running game doing what it did Sunday, the Packers have an offense no one wants to face.
Run-pass balance is nice and keeps defenses honest. Run-pass production is invaluable and keeps defenses scared.
"When you have them both," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said, "that's what makes you really dangerous."