Here it is in a nutshell: The Packers had four plays from the Chicago Bears‘ 8-yard line to win the game in the final minute of Thursday’s Thanksgiving-night spectacular at Lambeau Field, but Aaron Rodgers couldn’t find anyone open on any of them. The Packers lost another game that no one figured they would lose, this one a 17-13 home defeat.
Sure, the rainy, windy conditions were difficult, but how’s this for a shocker? Jay Cutler and the Bears had the more dynamic and effective offense. Meanwhile, Rodgers and the Packers resembled the group that lost three consecutive games, not the one that snapped the losing streak against the Vikings. It looked like all of their issues had been solved in Minneapolis, where Rodgers threw for two touchdowns, James Jones topped 100 yards receiving and Eddie Lacy rushed for 100 yards on the nose. Instead, only Lacy matched his production Thursday, though even he made a crucial mistake. The Bears turned Lacy’s second-quarter fumble turned into their first touchdown.
On the night the Packers unveiled Brett Favre’s retired No. 4 on the stadium faade and brought back Hall of Famer Bart Starr, the Packers’ offense spoiled what could have been a monumental night.
What it means: Just when it looked as though they were back in control of the NFC North, the Packers (7-4) fell a half-game behind the Vikings (7-3), who play at Atlanta on Sunday.
What were they thinking? Lacy was far too careless with the ball, and it almost cost the Packers a touchdown. Lacy causally flipped the ball behind him just as he crossed the goal line on his 25-yard catch in the first quarter. It was so close to coming out of his hand before he crossed the line that replay officials took a long look before confirming the touchdown.
One reason to get excited: Despite his fumble, Lacy looks back in form. After posting his first 100-yard game of the season against Minnesota, he again hit the century mark despite sitting for the rest of Thursday’s first half after his fumble.
One reason to panic: The Packers weren’t good in short-yardage situations. On the game’s opening drive, Rodgers’ pass to Randall Cobb on third-and-2 was stopped for no gain, and when coach Mike McCarthy went for it on fourth-and-2, Lacy was stuffed for no gain. In the second quarter, Lacy was again stuffed for no gain on a third-and-1, forcing a punt.
Fantasy watch: At least we know now that the Packers are going to feature Lacy again. He was back in the starting lineup instead of James Starks.
Ouch: Rodgers came up holding his left wrist after Lamarr Houston tackled him following a bad snap by fill-in center JC Tretter. While Rodgers got checked out on the sideline, backup quarterback Scott Tolzien started getting loose. However, Rodgers returned for the next series without missing a play. Cornerback Damarious Randall left in the third quarter with a knee injury and did not return. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga left in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.
No hoodie: After Jones’ hoodie was all the rage Sunday, he went without it Thursday night. Jones caught six passes for 106 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. Without the hoodie, he didn’t catch a single pass against the Bears.
What’s next: The Packers play their second consecutive Thursday-night game. This one is on the road at the Detroit Lions, who won at Lambeau on Nov. 15.