The Chicago Bears rallied with two second half touchdowns, including a 19-yard Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall laser, to edge the Cincinnati Bengals 24-21 at warm and humid Soldier Field and give Bears head coach Marc Trestman his first NFL victory.
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Bears gave the sold-out Soldier Field faithful enough positives to feel good about the win against a talented AFC opponent. In this game, it was the Bengals who self-destructed and had their own questionable coaching strategy.
But for the Bears, it was all smiles afterward. Trestman was presented the game ball by LB Lance Briggs, a veteran captain, but deflected the accolades.”Sundays are for players,” he said.
Perhaps, but Trestman displayed some coaching acumen when he helped settle down a Bears offense that staggered into halftime trailing 14-10, and then fell behind 21-10. After getting their first possession in the second half, the Bears promptly executed a nine play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a Matt Forte one-yard touchdown run to pull the Bears within four.
CB Tim Jennings helped thwart a Cincinnati drive, and got the Bears the ball back when he forced Bengals WR Mohammed Sanu to cough up the ball and Chicago recovered at their own 20.
Cutler engineered another, long drive, an eight play, 81-yard drive that included a gutsy fourth quarter call by Trestman. On fourth and inches from the Bengals 27-yard line, Forte swept the near side for a pickup of eight and a key first down. The Bears would score on the next play with the Cutler-to-Marshall pass.
Cutler said it was just a matter of time for the Bears offense. “We started clicking a little bit,” he said. “We weren’t really happy early on. Our tempo was a little off kilter. It was just a matter of us keep calling plays, be confident in what we were doing.” Cutler completed 21-of-33 for 242 yards. He also threw a second half pick, but wasn’t sacked, a tribute to the Bears refurbished offensive line, especially a rookie right side of Kyle Long and Jordan Mills.
Marshall hauled in eight passes for 104 yards and the touchdown.
The Bears defense picked up where it left off last season when Charles Tillman intercepted the first of his two picks from Bengals QB Andy Dalton. The Bears also added Jennings’ forced fumble as well.
However, all was not good. Tillman and the Bears secondary were torched by Cincinnati All-Pro WR A.J. Green. Green was a thorn in the Bears side all day, demonstrated his speed, hands, and playmaking ability. Green grabbed nine balls for 162 yards and two scores. The Bears defensive line had trouble generating any pass rush against Dalton, which allowed him time to survey the field and find creases. Dalton finished 26-of-33 for 282 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions.
Additionally, the Bears allowed drives of 97, 91, and 80, something that’s mildly concerning moving forward.
Chicago jumped out in front when Martellus Bennett made a spectacular leaping catch between two Bengal defenders, just shy from the endline, to give the Bears an early 7-0 lead. Bennett finished with three receptions for 49 yards, including one that helped keep a late Bears rally on trasck.
The Bears (1-0)put their one game winning streak on the line next Sunday in a NFC North division battle with Minnesota at Soldier Field. The Vikings lost at Detroit 34-24.
Paw Prints: The Bears had only one sack of Dalton, and second-year DE Shea McClellin got credit for it….CB Tim Jennings, CB Charles Tillman, and LB Lance Briggs led the Bears with stops with 6, 5, and 4 tackles respectively.