LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- It only takes one play to affect the outcome of a game.
The Bears defense did a masterful job slowing down Green Bay's high-powered offense in Week 17, until the fourth quarter. With the score tied at 3-3, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit Greg Jennings on a 46-yard reception that set up the game winning score.
Rodgers accomplished on the sequence what most quarterbacks don't versus. the Bears defense: he beat the Cover 2 for a deep strike down the field.
Which cannot happen in the NFC Championship Game.
On the play in question, Green Bay sent two receivers vertically up the field against safety Danieal Manning and cornerback Zack Bowman. Rodgers froze Manning by taking a look at the inside receiver, before eventually throwing the ball outside to Jennings who ran past Bowman. Because he was a first yards off his landmark thanks to Rodgers fake, Manning was late providing help over the top, and the rest is history.
"[Rodgers is] good at freezing the safety," Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said. "He'll look down the middle and know where his guy is going to be. So he'll look back at the last second and make that play. That deep play, it was a great concept. The Packers had two guys going after our safety, with one guy going up the sideline. In the Cover 2, that's one of the holes in the defense, and Aaron Rodgers did a great job of freezing the safety with his eyes, then going back and knowing where Greg Jennings was going to be at.
"That was the only one of two big plays they had - Donald Driver caught a 20 yard pass. Going back and watching film, we know that's what we have to eliminate, we have to eliminate big plays. That's the difference between winning and losing. We can't give up those kind of big plays. If we don't, I think we'll be fine."