GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Bears moved the ball in Sunday night’s season opener. But having to settle for field goals on three of four red-zone possessions ultimately cost them the opportunity to put the game away.
“We know we are close,” quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said after the Packers erased a 20-3 fourth-quarter deficit to stun the Bears 24-23 in Green Bay. “You get down to the red zone and you come up with a bunch of field goals and it feels OK because we got some points and we are taking care of the football. But they’re not touchdowns. That’s when you can really separate and help out the defense, continue to take pressure off them when we’re scoring.”
The Bears settled for field goals after failing to convert on third-and-goal from the 3, third-and-nine at the 15 and third-and-two at the 14.
“We moved the ball up and down the field, but there’s that sense and feeling in the locker room, especially on the offensive side, that we just need to continue to dig deeper and get over that hump of just putting up 20, 23 or however many points, getting to the 30s, getting the touchdowns, converting in the red zone, converting on third downs, really dictate the game instead of giving them a chance at the end like we did.”
The Bears’ first drive of the game was a thing of beauty. They marched 86 yards on 10 plays, capped by Trubisky’s two-yard touchdown run. Trubisky completed 4 of 4 passes for 54 yards on the drive.
“We were running the ball well,” Trubisky said. “The run was opening up the pass and we were in attack mode. … When we finish down in the red zone, that’s when we’ll get to where we want to be, which is an elite offense. Until then, we have a lot of work to do and we’ve just got to continue to convert and find ways to finish in the red zone.”
After scoring a touchdown and a field goal on its first two possessions, the Bears offense was held to two field goals on its final eight drives.
“It’s tough,” said right guard Kyle Long. “We were able to do some things early, but we need to be able to finish, As an offense, it starts up front with us. I take pride in that and I know the other guys do up front. At the end of the day we want to get a win, and when that doesn’t happen, we’re not happy.”
Not again: Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers continued his domination of the Bears. The future Hall of Famer has now won 14 of the last 15 games he’s started and finished against them. He has also thrown for 24 touchdowns and just one interception in his last nine starts versus the Bears, including seven TDs and no picks in his last two games.
On Sunday night, Rodgers returned in the second half after being carted to the locker room in the second quarter with a knee injury. The two-time NFL MVP threw touchdown passes on three straight possessions in the fourth quarter to turn a 20-3 deficit into a 24-23 victory.
“He’s special,” Nagy said. “We all know that. You’ve got to tip your cap to him. What a hell of a competitor. The guy’s out there playing injured, comes back and fights. They know what they have. We know that. We respect that. But at the same time, I want our guys, our team, to learn from this, and they will.”
Sitting out: Tight end Daniel Brown (shoulder) and safety DeAndre Houston-Carson (forearm/back) missed Sunday night’s opener with injuries. Other Bears inactives were receiver Javon Wims, tackle Rashaad Coward, defensive tackle Bilal Nichols, outside linebacker Kyle Fitts and cornerback Kevin Toliver II.
One-liners: When the Bears took a 10-0 lead, it marked the first time they led the Packers by double digits since a 35-7 win over Green Bay Dec. 23, 2007 at Soldier Field, a span of 23 games between the long-time rivals.. … The Bears have now lost five straight season openers for the first time since they dropped six in a row from 1964-69. … Jordan Howard led the Bears in rushing with 82 yards on 15 carries. … After getting one touch in the preseason, Tarik Cohen rushed for 25 yards on five attempts and caught three passes for 25 yards. … The Bears’ 17-0 halftime advantage was their largest halftime lead in Green Bay since 1948. … Rookie first-round pick Roquan Smith recorded a sack on his first NFL play, dropping backup quarterback DeShone Kizer for a nine-yard loss late in the first half.