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Rapid Recap: Bears drop opener to visiting Packers

Bears running back Khalil Herbert
Bears running back Khalil Herbert

The Bears opened the season in disappointing fashion Sunday at Soldier Field, losing to the rival Green Bay Packers 38-20.

The Bears trailed 7-6 late in the first half before the Packers scored 17 unanswered points to take a 24-6 third-quarter lead. After the Bears cut the deficit to 24-14 late in the period, Green Bay scored two touchdowns in a :56 span to ice the game.

"Everybody in the locker room's disappointed in that outcome," said coach Matt Eberflus. "This hurts. This is a division opponent. All the guys in there are sick to their stomachs, all the coaches, everybody, and that's not something that you like. But we also know it's the first game and we've got to get better. We have to improve."

Justin Fields completed 24 of 37 passes for 216 yards with one TD, one interception and a 78.2 passer rating. He also rushed for a game-high 59 yards on nine carries, lost a fumble on a scramble and was sacked four times.

The Bears offense committed five penalties in the game, three false starts and two for holding. Those miscues stalled drives and limited the offense to a 23.1 percent success rate on third down (3 of 13).

"We put ourselves behind on offense a bunch of times, and I think that's why the third downs were not what they expected to be," Eberflus said. "We've got to get that cleaned up because that's something you can improve by being disciplined and not having those penalties. Last year we were third in the league in penalties so we can definitely clean that up. That's correctable."

Making just his second career start, Packers quarterback Jordan Love connected on 15 of 27 passes for 245 yards with three TDs, no turnovers and a 123.2 passer rating.

Green Bay running back Aaron Jones rushed for 41 yards on nine carries and one touchdown and caught two passes for 86 yards and one TD before exiting with a hamstring injury. Receiver Romeo Doubs had four catches for 26 yards and two TDs.

The Bears turned the ball over on downs on the game's opening possession as Fields was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-1 quarterback sneak at the Chicago 40.

The Packers made the most of the excellent field position, taking a 7-0 lead on Love's 8-yard touchdown pass to Doubs on third-and-goal with 6:08 left in the first quarter.

The Bears answered by marching to the Green Bay 31. But after back-to-back false start penalties stalled the drive, they settled for Cairo Santos' 47-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to 7-3 late in the opening period.

After the defense forced the Packers to go three-and-out, Santos' 29-yard field goal trimmed the margin to 7-6 with 9:00 remaining in the second quarter. Fields sustained the drive with a brilliant 10-yard scramble on third-and-7. D'Onta Foreman followed with an 11-yard run and DJ Moore caught passes of 11 and 14 yards.

"We had a rhythm starting off early," Fields said. "But I think the moral of the story is we shot ourselves in the foot so many times: pre-snap penalties, false starts, holdings. We put ourselves in third-and-long. It's hard to convert on that for an NFL offense. I think if we just clean that up and keep getting better, we'll be fine."

Green Bay extended its lead to 10-6 on Anders Carlson's 52-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. The kick came after Yannick Ngakoue registered his first sack as a member of the Bears, dropping Love for an eight-yard loss.

The Packers opened the second half with an eight-play, 75-yard drive capped by Jones' 1-yard touchdown run, extending their lead to 17-6. The key play on the drive came when Love drifted to his left and threw a screen pass back to the right to Jones, who raced down the sideline for 51 yards to the Bears' 7.

After the Bears went three-and-out, the Packers widened the margin to 24-6 on Love's 35-yard TD pass to Jones on fourth-and-2.

The Bears then committed the game's first turnover as Fields was stripped by defensive tackle Kenny Clark on a scramble and safety Rasul Douglas recovered the fumble at the Chicago 18. But the defense forced a Packers punt.

The Bears cut the deficit to 24-14 late in the third quarter as Fields lofted a 20-yard touchdown pass to Darnell Mooney in the right corner of the end zone, and Khalil Herbert followed with a successful two-point conversion run up the middle.

But the Packers answered immediately as Love capped a quick five-play, 61-yard drive with a 4-yard TD pass to Doubs, widening the lead to 31-14. The TD came after Love connected with wide open tight end Luke Musgrave for 37 yards to the Bears 4.

Fields then threw a pass over the middle that was intercepted by linebacker Quay Walker, who returned the pick 42 yards for a TD to make it 38-14.

The Bears added a late TD on Roschon Johnson's 2-yard run with 2:54 remaining.

The Bears have now lost nine straight to the Packers, last winning on Dec. 18, 2018, at Soldier Field when they clinched the NFC North with a 24-17 victory.

"It sucks," Fields said. "Rivalry, Week 1, going against the Packers, I mean it sucks. Nobody's in good spirits. This one hurts, I'm not going to lie to you. It definitely sucks, but in the grand scheme of things, you've got to look at the bigger picture. We have 16 games to go in the regular season. We've got a lot of room to improve, a lot of room to grow. And I think that's what we're going to do as long as we keep that positive attitude, keep our mentality, keep pushing for greatness each and every day.

"We'll be fine, but it definitely hurts—not only because it's the first game of the season and it's a loss, but it's a loss to [the Packers]. I just want to say sorry to teammates, all the fans that were rooting for us. But we'll bounce back, we'll be good."

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