Instant reaction: Packers 24, Bears 23

The Green Bay Packers came back from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to defeat the Chicago Bears, 24-23, on Sunday night at Lambeau Field. It was a comeback for the ages—and one that featured all the drama you could ask for in the 197th installment of the most-played rivalry in NFL history.

Some initial thoughts on the victory:

  • Aaron Rodgers might be a cyborg. After being carted to the locker room in the first half, Rodgers emerged from the tunnel after halftime and put on a show that even his staunchest critics could not ignore. He was clearly favoring his left knee after re-entering the game, but any doubts were put to rest on the 39-yard touchdown heave he dropped into Geronimo Allison’s hands a minute into the fourth quarter. Not that Rodgers’ legacy as the Packers’ starting quarterback needs solidifying, but this was as entertaining and impressive a chapter as he’s written yet.

  • Mike Pettine’s defense deserves almost as much credit as Rodgers. After looking uneven through the early part of the game, they settled in nicely, allowing just six points in the second half and coming up with a game-sealing stop. Coming into Sunday night’s game, most people expected the Packers’ defense to be on its toes due to the amount of unscouted looks they were likely to see from Matt Nagy’s offense. Aside from Clay Matthews’ idiotic roughing the passer penalty on the final Chicago possession, Green Bay avoided big mistakes, and it served them well in the end.

  • Khalil Mack came as advertised in the first half. He terrorized Bryan Bulaga and Rodgers constantly, and the two turnovers he forced were extraordinary. It’s too bad no one told him football is a 60-minute affair. I kid, I kid. Without having re-watched the game, I can’t say for sure what adjustments the Packers might have made to lessen Mack’s impact in the second half, but he was largely non-existent throughout the entirety of Green Bay’s comeback.

  • If the first half gave you pause regarding the offensive line, just wait until next week. The Vikings will bring a ferocious defense into Lambeau Field. As special as Rodgers was against the Bears on Sunday night, Green Bay can ill-afford to dig themselves a hole like that against Minnesota.