Following an off-season of major turnover regarding the coaching staff and offensive line, the Chicago Bears opened the season Sunday afternoon with a 24-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Despite the changes to the team, the Bears looked to be “same old, same old” early in the game. They started off the game with a fast three-and-out and punted. This was followed by an interception by All-Pro Cornerback Charles Tillman on just the second play of the Bengals first drive.
The changes started to become evident when the Bears took over following Tillman’s pick, as they were able to move the ball before Jay Cutler found newly acquired Martellus Bennett in the end zone for a touchdown that had to be reviewed due to the fact the Bengals defender was able to get his arm on the ball. It was quite a nice change to watch a Bears’ receiver not named Brandon Marshall pull one in despite good defense.
The coaching staff would also be tested, as the defense was not able to generate much of a pass rush on Cincinnati, due in part to quarterback Andy Dalton getting the ball out of his hands fast, but also in part to the Bears rush not being effective. All this resulted in the Bears giving two touchdown drives of over 90 yards.
At halftime, the score stood at Cincinnati 14, Chicago 10, but the Bears had gained just 97 yards to the Bengals’ 245. The fans were left thinking this team was more like the team was under Lovie Smith, not the team we were hoping for with new coach Marc Trestman.
The game didn’t get much brighter for the Bears early in the second half, with Cincinnati driving 80 yards and taking more than seven minutes off the clock before scoring again, making the score 21-10.
The game really turned around for the Bears after this, as they weren’t down 11 for long. Cutler looked poised and led the team on a balanced drive that ended with a Matt Forte run from one yard out to make it 21-17.
The game would stall for a little while after that. The Bengals punted, and Cutler threw a pick early in the fourth while trying to be aggressive. This didn’t discourage the defense however, as cornerback Tim Jennings forced and recovered a fumble to give the Bears the ball back.
Cutler would then capitalize by going 81 yards on eight plays, culminating with a 19 yard strike in the end zone to Marshall to make the score 24-21.
After one more Bengals punt, the Bears would make sure they wouldn’t get the ball back, holding on to the ball for the final six minutes and 38 seconds, which would be their longest possession of the game.
For the first time in forever, the Bears offense played better in the second half then they did in the first — at least the first time with the game still in doubt. This is the workof Marc Trestman, who remained patient and found the cracks in Cincy’s defense.
The Bears forced three turnovers and gave up just one. They didn’t give up a sack either, which has been their biggest problem in the past. All these changes look like they are paying off, and have made many positive about the future of the team.