Last week, we learned that an NFL team believes Khalil Mack and a second-round pick are worth two first-round picks.
Sunday night, we saw that same team might have landed itself a bargain.
The defensive end had a remarkable first half of his first game as a Chicago Bear, singlehandedly tormenting Aaron Rodgers and his replacement, DeShone Kizer, who entered after Rodgers left with a knee injury. It was when Kizer took the field that Mack entered full havoc-wreaker mode.
Mack sacked Kizer twice, including a strip sack in which he ran into Kizer and literally took the ball from him. It was stunning in how easy Mack made the theft look, but it wasn't the last of his key plays.
Later in the half and with Rodgers in the locker room, Kizer took a shallow drop with the goal of completing a screen pass to Ty Montgomery. Kizer released the pass (while being hit by defensive tackle Roy Robertson-Harris, who had a solid night), and it never made it to Montgomery. Mack deftly dropped from rushing at just the right time, sliding back to intercept the pass and then outdo even himself by returning it for a touchdown.
That second-quarter, one-man wrecking crew of a performance inspired an NBC graphic that gave us an excellent tidbit: Mack is the first player since 1982 to record a sack, interception, touchdown, forced fumble and fumble recovery in one half. For reference, the NFL didn't start keeping track of sacks as an official statistic until 1982.
The thought of Chicago combining a defense featuring Mack -- who did his damage despite being on an obvious pitch count in Week 1 -- with an offense that looked balanced and varied makes one think the Bears might actually be compelling this season.
For one night, though, it was all for naught, because that same pass rush couldn't get to Rodgers when it needed to most. Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga adjusted well enough to keep Mack from sacking Rodgers late, and A-A-Ron did it yet again, connecting with Randall Cobb on a short completion that ended up going the distance for the game-winning touchdown.
Immediate disappointment for Chicago, thanks to the 24-23 loss, but there's plenty to be excited about with No. 52 in navy and orange.