GREEN BAY, Wis. (MCT) — The Chicago Bears’ defense and special teams pride themselves on taking chances, going for broke.
Sometimes that strategy works, occasionally it backfires as it did in Thursday night’s 23-10 defeat.
When defenders were stacked at or near the line of scrimmage as the Packers’ Mason Crosby lined up for an apparent 45-yard field goal attempt late in the second quarter, the Bears left themselves especially vulnerable for a fake.
Brett Goode snapped the ball to holder Tim Masthay, who flipped it forward to tight end Tom Crabtree. He ran 27 yards to give the Packers a 10-0 lead, instead of a 6-0 advantage if Crosby had made the kick.
“We were trying to block it,” Charles Tillman said. “I think that would have been a good game-changer on our part if we could have blocked it. ... It was a good call for that particular style of block that we had set up.”
Crosby wound up kicking three field goals on the night from 48, 35 and 54 yards. But the fake turned out to be the back-breaker against the Bears.
“It was huge, man, it was huge,” Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said. “It changed momentum drastically. You have to tip your hats to their coaching staff. They caught us out of position. We can’t allow that to happen.”
Tilting field position is crucial, and the Bears were quite aware of that significance entering the game in Lambeau Field.
Thursday night’s first possession for the Bears was reminiscent of their slow start against the Colts. D.J. Smith sacked Cutler for a 13-yard loss as Matt Forte missed the block of the middle linebacker and the Bears were backed up to their own 4 before Adam Podlesh punted the ball away.
Even though there is a premium on protecting the ball in your own territory, Bears special teams coach Dave Toub says he does not want his returners to be too conservative on kickoffs halfway into the end zone.
Devin Hester returned two kickoffs for 57 yards.
Podlesh also knew that he could affect field position dramatically as he did in the opener. He averaged 46.8 yards on six punts against the Packers, and placed one inside the 20.
Masthay punted five times for a 47.6-yard average with three inside the 20.
But it was Masthay’s sleight of hand on the fake field goal that really stunned the Bears.
“They executed the play to perfection,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “What else can I say?”