Clay Matthews and the Packers D had reason to celebrate often on Thursday night, when they sacked Jay Cutler seven times. (AP)

Green Bay's pass rush was overmatched, underproductive and ultimately blame-worthy when the 15-1 Packers fizzled in the 2011 playoffs. So it was downright strange to watch the merciless pounding that same rush delivered to quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears.

In last Thursday’s 23-10 win over Chicago, Green Bay’s defense looked nothing like the 2011 unit that gave up more passing yards than any other team in NFL history. It looked like the 2010 Packers team that ripped through opponents, hounded and harassed opposing quarterbacks, tackled soundly and frequently forced turnovers.

That was the ultimate take-away from Green Bay's Week 2 win. The pass rush finally looked formidable. All the talk, offseason attention, draft picks and personnel moves seemed to make a difference. Granted, the Bears and their much-maligned offensive line aren’t exactly known for standout pass protection. But beyond the seven sacks and 12 quarterback hits, there was a different atmosphere on defense.

Was it Cutler’s pregame comments wishing the Packers secondary “good luck?” Was it the rivalry game against the Bears? Was it a unit sick and tired of the negative press? Was it an improved defense simply playing better? Whatever the reason, this was a different group and it was evidenbt in its edge off the edge; a blitzkrieg of brutality.

Cutler was a rag doll in the fourth quarter. For all the hatred Packers fans have for Chicago's aloof quarterback, you actually felt badly for him. After he stopped visibly lambasting his offensive linemen in the first half, he just looked resigned, weary and broken. Cutler never stood a chance. It was like the varsity defense scrimmaging the jayvee offense.

Samson-like OLB Clay Matthews played like Cutler was brandishing a pair of barber’s scissors instead of the football. He played with a fuming, flaming ferocity, finishing with 3.5 sacks, which gives him six in two games, matching his total from all of last season.

He seemed to get through on every dropback and could’ve bought a timeshare in the Bears’ backfield.

Defensive linemen B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett got frequent interior penetration and ably disrupted the pocket. Even a couple of the Packers rookies, Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels, got in on the action, with late sacks. Second-year ILB D.J. Smith only rushed a handful of times, but he got to Cutler twice, including a big first-half sack.

“I had a conversation with B.J. Raji at the hotel last night, and we’re talking about playing defense,” McCarthy said after the game. “He’s a Pro Bowl player and the team is noted for offense. I said well, ‘frankly, I’d rather be known for defense.’

“We feel like we’re building, we’re building something special with this defense. I thought our younger players that got an opportunity to play today, we were very productive. I thought Clay was off the charts, just with the energy and the production he brought. That defense really flew around tonight.”

It was a statement game.

“We just wanted to come out and prove that we’re not what everyone claims we are,” Raji said. “[The Bears are] a good offense. They have good weapons. It’s a division game, a big game for us. We wanted to come out and prove that we were a good team."

Against the Bears, the Packers opportunistically turned their pass rush into takeaways. They intercepted Cutler four times. Charles Woodson said those turnovers were a direct result of the pressure.

“Jay is a guy that he’ll give you a chance,” Woodson said. “You just have to be in position.

"Up front was unbelievable, headed by Clay (Matthews), and a lot of other guys got in on the action and forced him to get the ball out of his hands, forced him into some bad throws and we were there to capitalize on it…They had no answers for our guys up front. They were in the backfield constantly, and it started early. That really makes it tough on any quarterback.”

QB Aaron Rodgers dismissed the comparisons – to last year, to the Super Bowl run, whatever.

"Last year was last year," he said. "In 2010, we were champs. That didn't mean anything for 2011. Last year was last year.

"Last week, we played a great team that had a great scheme for us. This week is a new week. We knew that and wanted to come out and show that we were a good team."

Follow Packers reporter James Carlton on Twitter @CBSPackers.