Bengals at Bears: Grading the Bears season opening win
The Marc Trestman era is off to a good start in Chicago as the Bears (1-0) used a second half comeback to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in week 1 of the 2013 NFL season.
The Bears trailed 21-10 early in the third quarter before rallying to score two touchdowns and finishing off a 24-10 win.
At times the Bears looked sloppy and unable to establish any sort of rhythm on the offensive side of the ball. That changed in the second half as the offense constructed two scoring drives of 80+ yards. The game-winning drive came in the form of Jay Cutler connecting with Brandon Marshall 0n a 19-yard touchdown pass.
Here’s how the Bears were graded for the win:
Cutler looked sharp at times in Trestman’s new offense as he spreaded the ball around to six different receivers. After throwing an interception in the third quarter, Cutler kept his poise and led the Bears to the win.
Cincinnati brought a lot of pressure using different blitzes against Cutler, but Cutler was sharp against the blitz. When the Bengals blitzed, Cutler finished 8-10 with 94 yards, a touchdown and four first downs. He also made plays on the ground when he was flushed out of the pocket.
While the interception might have been a bad one, Cutler responded in a way Bears fans have waited for. Now he just has to do it all season long.
Matt Forte is one of the biggest keys to a successful season for the Bears which means he will have to be a big factor in both the running and receiving game. In yesterdays win over the Bengals, Forte managed just 50 yards and 19 attempts.
He did however haul in four passes for 41 yards. Forte did have a key 24-yard reception in the fourth quarter however.
Forte couldn’t muster much against a tough Bengals front seven that is considered one of the best in the NFL. This week could be a better one for Forte as he looks to get going early and often against the Vikings.
Backup Michael Bush saw little action Sunday recording 15-yards on just six carries. As the season goes on, Bush will be more involved in the running game as he will spell Forte.
It’s safe to say the Cutler-to-Marshall connection is back. This time it was the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Marshall finished with eight receptions for 104 yards and one touchdown. He was the go-to guy late in the game when the Bears needed him most.
While Marshall attracts attention from opposing defenses, that leaves receivers like Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett the chance to make plays in single coverage. Jeffery was targeted eight times as he hauled in five receptions for 42 yards. Bennett on the other hand did play after he missed most of the pre-season with a concussion. He caught his only targeted pass for six yards on a third down.
Martellus Bennett made his impact felt immediately as he hauled in an eight yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter. After that, Bennett was pretty quiet.
Bennett finished with three receptions for 49 yards on six targets. He had a dropped pass and committed two holding penalties. While Bennett is an immediate upgrade at a position the Bears have struggled at in recent years, his play still needs to be a little better moving forward.
This unit might have just played the best overall game by any position on the team. The offensive line didn’t give up a sack and gave Cutler time to throw in the pocket.
It was as impressive as I’ve seen a Bears offensive line play in a long time. What makes it more impressive is the fact that they had two rookies start on the line, and both (Jordan Mills/Kyle Long) played very well.
Long had a tough task in containing defensive tackle Geno Atkins and did well for the most part.
If the Bears offensive line can play well like this all season, it will lead to good things in Chicago.
The Bears pass rush was quiet all game long until defensive end Shea McClellin had the teams only sack of the game in the fourth quarter. The lack of a consistent pass rush gave Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton all time to throw and Dalton made them pay for the most part.
While the pass rush picked up a little bit in the fourth quarter it was a concern for most of the game.
The Bears run defense was impressive as they held the Bengals to just 63 yards on 21 attempts. Defensive tackle Stephen Paea had a good game as he consistently got a nice rush on the Bengals inside lineman.
In their first game without Brian Urlacher, the new Bears linebacking unit looks as great as it had in the past, but turned in a good enough game to earn a passing game.
There were times where tackling was an issue for the linebackers but overall they had a pretty decent day.
Lance Briggs finished with seven tackles, one for a loss and a deflected pass. New middle linebacker D.J. started for the Bears despite missing the entire preseason with an injury. Conditioning or lack of play in the preseason didn’t seem like much of a factor to Williams who finished with three tackles.
It wasn’t the best day for the Bears secondary but they got the job done when it counted the most. Bengals receiver A.J. Green torched them for two touchdowns on nice receptions and 162 yards. He also forced a defensive pass interference call on Charles Tillman that led to another Bengals touchdown.
Other than the big game from Green, the Bears did a good job of shutting down other Bengals receivers.
They continued to force turnovers, picking up where they left off last season with two interceptions and a forced fumble which led to a Bears scoring drive in the fourth quarter.
The Bears safeties looked a step two slow in over the top coverage but that’s something that can be fixed as the season goes on.
The Bears special teams continued to be a factor in the game again. The Bengals were worried about return man Devin Hester which led to good field position for the Bears offense. Hester continues to be a factor for opposing teams which is a good sign field position wise for the Bears.
Kicker Robbie Gould converted on his only field goal attempt late in the first half. A 58-yard field goal that brought the Bears to within four points going into halftime.
Gould’s field goal was huge as the game looked to be swaying Cincinnati’s way going into halftime.