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Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013

The Seneca Wallace Era Begins Inauspiciously: Packers Come Up Short in Backup Battle

Looking Pack: Week Nine

seneca wallace chicago bears green bay packers 2013
Photo credit: Jim Biever / Packers.com
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As many predicted prior to Monday night’s Packers and Bears game, the oldest NFL rivalry of all-time was decided by the victor taking advantage of its opponent’s need to resort to a backup quarterback to fill in for an injured starter. However, very few could have imagined the turn of events that found Aaron Rodgers being that injured quarterback and Josh McCown—spelling injured Chicago starter Jay Cutler—leading the Bears to an unlikely 27-20 win in the battle of the backups at Lambeau Field.

The game started in predictable fashion, as Rodgers led the Packers 53 effortless yards into Bears territory. However, a failed third down conversion also put the rest of Green Bay’s season into question, as Bears defensive end Shea McClellin slammed Rodgers’ non-throwing shoulder into the Lambeau Field tundra in a hard—albeit clean—hit. The leader of the Pack exited for what turned out to be the remainder of the game, and Mason Crosby put Green Bay up 3-0 on the following play.

During his second full week replacing Cutler this season, McCown led his Bears capably down the field on a 71-yard opening drive, which was capped off by a 23-yard connection to Brandon Marshall (who had seven catches and 107 yards Monday) to give Chicago a 7-3 lead. Green Bay’s own veteran understudy didn’t fare as well on his first drive. The Seneca Wallace era began with a flurry of handoffs to Eddie Lacy, who cut and smashed his way into Bears territory. Yet Packer-killer Julius Peppers reared his ugly head (or more accurately, hands) when he tipped and intercepted a Wallace pass to kill Green Bay’s momentum.

The Packers defense held Chicago to a punt, which Jamari Lattimore subsequently blocked to give the Rodgers-less Packers offense excellent field position. On the next play, James Starks scampered 32 yards to put Green Bay up 10-7. Unfortunately, Wallace would be forced to pass more as the first half went on, resulting in just 32 yards of total offense on the next three drives. On the other side of the ball, McCown and company didn’t scuffle as the half drew to a close. First, he hooked up with tight end Martellus Bennett on a 27-yard completion to set up a Matt Forte touchdown run, then captaining Chicago into field goal range on a half-ending drive that put the Bears up 17-10.

The Bears stalled on their first drive, and quickly allowed the Packers to knot things at 17 apiece after a 56-yard Lacy run and one-yard Lacy score on consecutive plays. And after a bit of trickery on behalf of Mike McCarthy, Green Bay wound up recovering a surprise onside kick, and was rewarded for the risk with another Crosby field goal to give the Packers a 20-17 lead. That would turn out to be the last Packers lead of the night, as McCown’s heady game management and Forte’s clutch running (aided by a weary Green Bay defense—the result of Wallace’s ineffectiveness) put points on the board, while milking time off the clock.

A six-yard Alshon Jeffery TD catch and a crippling 18 play, 80-yard and 8:58 fourth quarter Bears drive later, the Packers were out of sync, out of time and out of sole possession of first place in the division. With Rodgers’ prognosis uncertain but not looking good, the fate of the 5-3 team now rests in the uncertain hands of Wallace (who managed 114 passing yards and was sacked four times), the running game and a defense accustomed to playing with a lead.


Player Of The Game (Offense) – Eddie Lacy
Despite Rodgers’ injury, Green Bay wasn’t entirely out of the game because Lacy and Starks were exceptional. The pair combined for 190 rushing yards and both Packers touchdowns. Lacy tallied 150 of those, including a 56-yard scamper to set up his one-yard touchdown on the following play.


Player Of The Game (Defense/Special Teams) – Tim Masthay
On an evening lacking defense, the Packers punter at least did his part to pin the Bears near their goal line and keep the dangerous Devin Hester at bay. Of Masthay’s six punts (averaging 41.7 yards a pop), four of them were within Chicago’s 20. Morgan Burnett earned honorable mention with 10 combined tackles—mostly chasing Forte, who had 179 total yards Monday.


Up Next: Hosting the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Nov. 10 at noon.