Bears 24 Bengals 21
The Bears were able to secure a Week 1 win for themselves as well as get new head Coach Marc Trestman his first NFL victory. While there was some good and some bad, the Bears won a tough game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals. While there is definitely things to be concerned about, fans should come away with some serious positives. Here's how the Bears graded out.
Jay Cutler was 21/33 for 242 yards. He threw 2 TD's and 1 INT in the game. Cutler finished with a passer rating of 93.2. While this wasn't Cutler's best game by any means it had some big positives. Cutler looked comfortable in his new offense. He did make a bad throw that was a easy interception, but that's part of who Jay is. Cutler was able to come up with some big rushes for 16 yards at critical moments. I thought Jay led the offense well in the 2nd half and was key to today's victory. Cutler was not sacked in the game and seemed very positive in the postgame.
Running backs: B
Matt Forte only averaged 2.6 yards per carry, but the amount of times he was able to run the ball was key. The Bengals had a solid front seven that limited the Bears running game. Forte had 19 carries for 50 yards and 1 TD. He also caught 4 passes for a total of 41 yards. Michael Bush spelled Forte for 6 carries for 15 yards. Forte's biggest run came on a risky 4th and 1, where the Bears ran the ball to right side. Forte was able to secure the first down at a crucial point of the game.
While the Bengals AJ Green was the best receiver on the field, the Bears Brandon Marshall provided a solid day at the office. Marshall, who had a slow first half, caught the game winning TD in single coverage. Marshall finished 8/10 for 104 yards. Martellus Bennett had a mixed game. He had some drops including his first target, but finished 3/6 for 49 yards and 1 TD. Bennett also was tagged with some penalties. Alshon Jeffery had a decent game going 5/8 for 42 yards. Alshon made a crucial one handed grab during a offensive drive. Earl Bennett was targeted once and caught the pass for 6 yards.
Offensive Line: A
One thing we have been unable to say in years past is that Jay Cutler was not sacked in the game. With a new offensive line this year, Cutler had time and space to create. Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Roberto Garza, Kyle Ling, and Jordan Mills all did well. The Bengals Geno Atkins was limited to no tackles and no sacks in the game. Rookies Long and Mills came up big on a 4th and 1 when Coach Marc Trestman decided to run Matt Forte to the right side for a 1st down. Jay Cutler spoke very highly of his rookie right side in the postgame. Mills composure was critical in the final moments of the game when linebacker Rey Maualuga committed a personal foul and Mills did not retaliate sealing the win for the Bears.
Defensive Line: C-
The front four for the Chicago Bears provided little to no pressure to Bengals QB Andy Dalton. Julius Peppers was double teamed and was contained by the Bengals. Shea McClellin had the Bears only sack in the game. The Bears will definitely need to improve in this area for Week 2 vs. the Vikings. The Bears base Cover 2 defense needs pressure from the front four to be successful. The Bears, as a defensive unit, also have to improve on their tackling, which was poor in Week 1.
Lance Brigg played the run game at a Pro Bowl level. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was limited to 25 yards on 14 carries. Briggs had 7 total tackles in the game. The linebackers limited the Bengals longest rushing attempt to 14 yards by Marvin Jones. DJ Williams started at the MLB position and didn't show much rust after missing the entire preseason. Williams had 3 total tackles. James Anderson had a crucial pass deflection on a 3rd down late in the game. Anderson almost intercepted that ball and finished with 5 total tackles.
The Bears secondary had a mixed game. Charles Tillman had 2 INT and Tim Jennings had 2 forced fumbles. The problem was though that AJ Green had his way with both corners all game. Green finished with 162 yards and 2 TD. The Bears just couldn't find a answer for him. Isaiah Frey wasn't noticeable when he was in the game at the nickel position. Chris Conte and Major Wright were ok in limiting the Bengals to few big offensive plays.
Special Teams: A
Robbie Gould was "good as gold" as usual. He was 3/3 in extra point attempts. The biggest contribution though was a 58 yard field goal near the end of the first half. Gould set a personal record and a franchise record for longest kick at Soldier Field. Adam Podlesh had 5 punts and placed 3 inside the 20. Devin Hester returned one kick for 31 yards and had 2 punt returns for about a total of 3 yards. The Bears also limited the Bengals Adam Jones to only 13 yards on a punt return. The schemes were good on Special Teams and Podlesh's punting ability kept the Bengals deep in their zone.
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