It was an inconsistent first game for Marc Trestman’s Bears, but one that they kept close enough for an exciting late comeback. Chicago rallied in the third and fourth quarters, overcoming an 11-point to win their home opener. Let’s talk about this thrilling win in the first Gameday Review of the season!
(1-0) Chicago Bears 24
(0-1) Cincinnati Bengals 21
There was a large chunk of game time where Trestman’s offense wasn’t gaining significant yardage, but he did get key contributions from his star players. Aside from a ridiculously confusing interception early in the fourth quarter (I seriously cannot explain that one), Jay Cutler played a mistake free game. He completed 21 of his 33 passes (didn’t get help with a few drops from several receivers) and didn’t take a single sack. Cutler stepped up in the pocket on multiple plays throughout the game, with positive results coming nearly every time. One instance resulted in avoiding a blitz and finding Martellus Bennett down the field. Another came with an 18-yard scramble and a first down from the mobile QB.
Obviously Matt Forte had a difficult afternoon against the Bengal front seven, who were extremely stout. A key play in the Bear comeback was Trestman’s decision to go for the conversion on fourth and inches. After a Bengal timeout, Trestman elected to hand the ball off to Forte, who bounced to the outside past penetrating defenders for eight yards and the first down. He may have only gained 50 yards, but his nineteen attempts (combined with Michael Bush’s six) kept the Bengals from coming full force at Cutler. Martellus Bennett showed up with three catches, one of which was a fantastic grab in the back of the endzone for the Bears’ first score. All this talk about Brandon Marshall’s hip proved to be silly-nannying, unless his eight catches, 104 yards, and a touchdown were his floor for week one. His score in the fourth quarter put the Bears up for good, but his catches on various third and long’s were significant in keeping the offense on the field.
Defensively the Bears had their ups and downs. Even when Tillman was on the field Chicago had trouble finding and defending against receiver A.J. Green. His nine catches and 162 yards through the air kept the Bear defense on the field time and time again, seemingly always coming on key third down and longs. And his two touchdowns clearly didn’t help matters on the scoreboard. His first score came with a small, veteran push-off, but not something that usually gets called in the NFL. Chicago’s defenders had trouble bringing down Green and the other large bodies of the Bengals, especially tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert. Too often the ball-carrier would fight for the extra yard and end up getting four.
Where the Bears didn’t struggle was in the takeaway department. Cincinnati turned the ball over three times on the afternoon, giving the Bears numerous chances to overcome their offensive woes. Charles Tillman brought in two interceptions of Andy Dalton, one tipping off the hands of A.J. Green. Tillman continues to show why he’s the best cover corner on the team, despite his pass interference violation in the endzone. Following Cutler’s interception, Tim Jennings forced a fumble by Mohamed Sanu, which he recovered, negating the Bear QB’s mistake. There was another fumble from A.J. Green, but it was kicked out of bounds and couldn’t be recovered. I’m counting that phantom turnover. IT WAS TOTALLY OURS.
Leading late, Trestman received his last gift from the Cincinnati Bengals.After a failed third down run by Bush with just over a minute left in regulation, an unnecessary roughness penalty on linebacker Ray Maualuga gave the Bears the first down and sealed the win. It was just one of eight Bengal penalties that aided Chicago’s victory.
Other Notes of Note:
– This really sums up the Bengals for me:
They used time-outs at inopportune moments (especially in the fourth quarter when two TO’s were separated by one play), committed terrible penalties, and were careless with the football.
-It was great to see Trestman give Gould a chance at the 58-yarder with seconds left in the first half. Of course, Robbie delivered, getting the score to 14-10 at halftime.
-A.J. Green is wicked good, y’all.
And the Bears are 1-0! It wasn’t a clean win, but rarely does that happen in the NFL. The Bengals are a good team with lots of potential in 2013, so coming out and playing a full 60 minutes of football was going to be necessary. Marc Trestman’s team did just that, which is why he’s sitting pretty tonight. Enjoy the win Bear fans!
Bear Down and Happy Jay Cutler Day!