|Bears-Packers opened the NFL's 100th season.|
No such option was afforded the Green Bay Packers Thursday night in
When its offense put up a negative number in the first quarter, the team was
forced to live with it.
The NFL kicked off its 100th season at Soldier Field with a prime-time showcasing of its oldest rivalry: Packers-Bears.
Green Bay triumphed 10-3 in a low-scoring
affair reminiscent of the league’s formative years.
The much-hyped event also served as the coaching debut of one Matt LaFleur. In January, the 39-year-old native of
became the 15th head coach in Packers’ history. Mount Pleasant, Michigan
One wonders what LaFleur would have done had he been offered a do-over at the end of the first quarter. Might he have opted for another spin given his offense was stuck in reverse?
The Packers’ three drives in the opening 15 minutes ended almost before they started. Each time the team went three and out, traveling minus-10, minus-7 and five yards.
The Packers abandoned the run on their third outing which clocked in at all of 56 seconds. Despite starting at the 40 as the result of a Bears kickoff going out of bounds, Green Bay continued to sputter as Rodgers threw too low for Davante Adams, connected with the wide receiver for five yards, and then missed him near midfield on third down.
J.K. Scott ended each failed enterprise with a punt.
|Packers head coach Matt LaFleur at practice.|
(Eric Goska photo)
Negative first quarters are rare for the Packers. When they do occur, however, they don’t always foreshadow a loss.
Chicago was the
11th time since 1942 that Green Bay
has finished with fewer than zero yards in an opening quarter. The team is 5-6
in those games.
The Packers last started underwater on Dec. 14, 1986. After producing minus-3 yards on eight first-quarter plays in
the team rebounded and dispatched the Buccaneers 21-7. Tampa Bay
The Green and Gold’s worst opening quarter in the previous 76 years took place on Oct. 26, 1975 in
The team generated minus-19 yards on six plays and succumbed 16-13 to the
Of course, misfiring early can be demoralizing. The best remedy is to shrug off such sluggishness as quickly as possible.
Thanks to a tremendous defensive effort, those two scores carried the day. The Packers last beat the Bears with 10 or fewer points on the road when they triumphed 2-0 on the strength of a Tom Nash safety at Wrigley Field on Oct. 16, 1932.
Over the course of the final three quarters Thursday, the Packers produced 225 yards of offense on 48 plays (4.69 per play). The Bears collected 212 yards (4.42) on the same number of snaps over the same span.
What we know with more certainty is that LaFleur’s first quarter was likely the least productive season-opening period in franchise history. It surpassed the minus-9 yards the Packers managed on three plays in a 19-14 loss to the Rock Island Independents to kick off the 1922 campaign.
Negative yardage aside, LaFleur’s opening act will long be remembered for a far different reason. In taming the Monsters of the Midway, LeFleur joins Gene Ronzani, Vince Lombardi and Dan Devine as the only
Green Bay head coaches to
have defeated the Bears when meeting them for the first time
LeFleur and Devine are the only to have registered that victory on the road. LeFleur and Lombardi are the only to have done it in a season opener.
For the first time ever, the Packers (47 yards) and Bears (46) both rushed for fewer than 50 yards in the same game.
Since 1942, the 11 games in which the Packers have generated negative first-quarter yardage.