GREEN BAY, Wis. – It started as a huge problem, epitomized by a 32-yard James Starks first-quarter touchdown run on a counter play where a hole opened so wide that Packers fullback John Kuhn couldn’t even find someone to block.
All three Bears linebackers guessed wrong, and safety Chris Conte was simply beat.
The Bears’ running defense issues slowed down for the second quarter, after Aaron Rodgers left with a left shoulder injury and the Packers’ offense went in a shell.
But after allowing the Packers to run for 98 yards on 11 first-quarter carries and then 1 second-quarter yard, the Bears gave up 57 yards on the ground to Eddie Lacy on the Packers’ first two second-half offensive plays.
The Bears entered the game allowing 117 yards a game on the ground but came a yard short from allowing 200 yards for the second straight game.
Marshall still key: There was plenty of debate about whether wide receiver Brandon Marshall would get as many looks with quarterback Josh McCown filling in for the injured Jay Cutler.
That notion was erased quickly as McCown threw the ball to Marshall in tight coverage several times and came away with positive results, none better than a 23-yard first quarter touchdown pass.
Marshall had five catches and 84 yards on seven targets in the first half. He left the game briefly in the third quarter but returned soon after.
Not so special: This was supposed to be a game where the Bears’ special teams could keep them in it against Aaron Rodgers, instead, the Packers’ units put on a show. The blocked punt in the first half set up a touchdown, and was the first punt Adam Podlesh has had blocked in his career. A surprise onside kick after a touchdown allowed Green Bay to score 10 consecutive points after halftime. The Bears showed a few fake reverses with Devin Hester and Michael Ford on kickoff returns.
Quick hits: Likely to help a defense with two rookies starting at linebacker, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker called plays from the sideline for the first time this season. … Rookie wideout Marquess Wilson saw the most extensive playing time of his young career. … The Bears had two somewhat surprising inactives: defensive tacle Zach Minter and linebacker Joe Anderson. The team apparently felt better with Christian Tupou at defensive tackle than Minter. Anderson was questionable with an abdomen injury. Michael Ford replaced him on kickoff returns.