Mack's Superb Bears Debut Spoiled By Loss

September 10, 2018 - 1:32 am

GREEN BAY, Wis. (670 The Score) -- Off to the corner of a crushed locker room at Lambeau Field, star pass rusher Khalil Mack threw a Bears pullover on and stood to discuss a devastating loss.

It was only a week ago that Mack held his navy blue jersey before cameras at Halas Hall as newly minted as the face of this Bears defense. Now, he had to answer on behalf of his team after its gut-wrenching 24-23 loss to the Packers on Sunday night.

"You want to win," Mack said. "Cool game, but you got to finish. Something we can definitely learn from."

The Bears acquired Mack in a blockbuster deal with the Raiders on Sept. 2 that included two first-round picks being sent back to Oakland. He was welcomed to Chicago with great fanfare and billed as the star this team needed. 

Mack's debut with the Bears defense inspired confidence for what could come during the six-year window in which he will earn up to $141 million. At Lambeau Field and playing before a national audience, Mack recorded a strip-sack of backup quarterback DeShone Kizer and recovered the ball himself to halt a promising Packers drive in the second quarter. Later in the quarter, he returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown.

The last player to record a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception and a touchdown in one game was none other than Mack in 2016. 

"He was doing well," coach Matt Nagy said. "He was feeling well, making plays and making big-time plays."

Like the rest of the Bears' pass rush, Mack wasn't much of a factor in the second half, when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- playing on an injured left knee -- kept finding his targets and getting the football out quickly.

The Bears came into this game planning to have Mack limit his workload after missing the entire preseason in a holdout with the Raiders. They spent the week determining his conditioning level and formulating a plan from there.

But the careful intentions of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio were thrown out when Mack came out looking dominant. On his first play, Mack lined up at edge rusher and pushed through Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga, which forced Rodgers to throw the ball away. He was held later in the drive on a play that forced the Packers to punt.

When Rodgers was forced out of the game with the knee injury, Mack really made his presence felt. He powered his way to Kizer and ripped the football out of his hands with the Packers at the Bears' 9-yard line. Then came the pick-six late in the second quarter, with him evading tacklers and finding the end zone.

The Bears then surrounded him and pretended to make it rain dollar bills in a salute to their new big-money man.

But despite the instant impact of Mack, the Bears squandered a 20-0 lead with Rodgers -- also the recipient of a record contract -- pushing the Packers to an epic comeback. The debut of Mack was spoiled with a crushing loss.

"I prepared all offseason for the first game of the season," Mack said. "I wanted to come back and make an impact. But you want to win these games. That's the one thing on my mind. I hate losing."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​