GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Khalil Mack got off to a rousing start with the Chicago Bears.
The ending had a familiar feel for his new team.
Make it five straight losses for the Bears to their NFC North archrivals after a 24-23 defeat to Green Bay on Sunday night.
“I prepared all offseason for the first game of the season and I wanted to … make an impact,” Mack said. “But you want to win these games. That’s the only thing on my mind. I hate losing.”
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Can’t really blame Mack.
He was a difference-maker in his first game since the Bears acquired the outside linebacker last week in a trade with the Oakland Raiders.
Mack returned a 27-yard interception from backup quarterback DeShone Kizer for a touchdown. He had a strip-sack that led to another turnover. He had pressure in the backfield on a play in which quarterback Aaron Rodgers hurt his left knee.
Mack accomplished all that in the second quarter alone. This from a player who missed the entire preseason.
“In the first half, he was pretty much what we thought,” coach Matt Nagy said.
Mack didn’t start the game, but entered after four plays. First, the Bears seemed to spot him into pass-rush situations. At some points, he would play an entire series.
“We wanted to see where he was at conditioning-wise. He was doing well, he’s feeling good, making plays. Making big-time plays,” Nagy said.
The kinds of plays that allow an offense to feed off a defense, Nagy said.
“And when our offense is dominating, the defense got to dominate,” he added.
It all fell apart in the second half, after Rodgers returned from the injury.
“They were trying to get Mack on the field obviously as many plays as possible, which we figured. But we countered,” Rodgers said. “We wanted to slow them down, a little bit, let (right tackle Bryan Bulaga) get settled and he did, and did a good job.”
Rodgers carved up the defense with quick, precision passes. He finished 20 of 30 for 286 yards, including 17 of 23 for 273 yards in the second half.
Mack said he wasn’t shocked to see Rodgers return.
“I don’t really think much changed, I feel like we let them make too many big plays down the stretch,” Mack said. “You can’t have that, so we’ve got to put more pressure on the quarterback.”
Mack finished with three tackles, while also being credited for a pass-deflection to go with his sack, forced fumble and interception.
“You’re really satisfied when you get the win and you’ve got those kinds of numbers,” he said. “That’s just me.”
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