Two of the keys to the Bears win over the Packers on Monday night resulted from the outstanding play of defensive end Julius Peppers. His veteran play is credited with causing a bevy of Green Bay penalties. His presence was felt on this particular drive more than others.
Green Bay started with a 22-yard kickoff return from Jordy Nelson and went from there. Here's how the game-changing drive breaks down:
5-yard illegal formation penalty on Green Bay: On the first play of the drive Aaron Rodgers tosses a short pass to receiver Donald Lee, only to have it called back because of an Illegal Formation call on Left Tackle Chad Clifton, who was guarding Peppers. Green Bay opens the half by erasing a short gain.
Next four plays, Green Bay gains 45 yards on short passes and a Brandon Jackson rush: Rodgers picked apart the Bears offense with short gains and plenty of first downs. (8 yards to Jordy Nelson; 20 yards to Jermichael Finley; 11 yard run by Brandon Jackson; 6 yard pass to Donald Driver.) They got downfield and ate up clock along the way.
Challenge: John Kuhn tried to fool the officials into thinking he has gained 15 yards when he popped up quickly after being tackled. But his ruse was stopped by a successful Lovie Smith challenge and reduced to a 2-yard gain.
Next three plays, Packers gain 22 yards on short passes: Green Bay moves into Chicago territory with three passes (8 yards to Driver; 7 yards to Jones; 7 yards to Jackson), all under 10 yards.
10-yard Holding Penalty on Green Bay: Surprise, surprise. Julius Peppers was held by Mark Tauscher, and the Packers moved back 10 yards, putting them on the Chicago 26.
Next two plays, Rodgers hits Jermichael Finley and Donald Driver to gain 11 yards: Rodgers stuck with what worked, short passes to his receivers. Rodgers made every pass in this drive, but the Bears allowed very few yards after each catch.
10-yard holding penalty on Green Bay: A touchdown pass to Finley was called back because Mark Tauscher was holding Peppers.
Rodgers to Finley for 6-yard gain: Pack on the Bears 25, they move up with a short pass, making it easier for kicker Mason Crosby.
Peppers blocks Crosby's 37-yard FG attempt: The former basketball player at North Carolina got into the air and put a hand on Crosby's kick.
This drive was crucial because it kept the Bears in the game. At the time, they were down by three. A field goal could have changed the course of the game, especially since the Bears won by a field goal. The Packers used up time and energy on offense but come up with nothing. However, the drive was not perfect for the Bears.
While it showed how good Peppers is -- he drew two penalties on this drive, and unofficially drew 10 over the course of the game. But it also showed glaring weaknesses in the Bears passing defense. Rodgers completed every pass on the drive, and was barely touched.