Found September 09, 2013 on
The Chicago Bears did plenty of good things in Sunday’s season opening win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Of course the storyline of the game was the fact that the Bears overcame an 11 point third quarter deficit by scoring 14 unanswered points to win the game.
However, some impressive plays were made by the Bears on both sides of the ball.
The new-look Bears offensive line featured four new starters in LT Jermon Bushrod, LG Matt Slauson, right guard Kyle Long and right tackle Jordan Mills on Sunday. Center Roberto Garza returned as one of two linemen who played with the Bears in 2012.
The line protected quarterback Jay Cutler very well all afternoon. He had plenty of time in the pocket to make decisions and figure out where he was going with the ball. Cutler made a couple of bad throws that were tipped up in the air by Bengals defenders, but those were strictly on Cutler.
The offensive line looked confident against a Bengals defense that racked up 51 sacks a year ago, which was third best in the NFL. The most important note about the line was the fact that they played together and they continued to lean on each other play in and play out.
Rookies Long and Mills on the right side held up their side of the line and even helped running back Matt Forte pick up a huge first down on a fourth-and-one with 8:32 left in the game. Bengals DT Geno Atkins was held in check not recording a single tackle on the day.
The worst block didn’t even come against an offensive lineman. It came when Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap beat Michael Bush and pressured Jay Cutler. Cutler’s lone interception came on a play where he was looking for Bush downfield and was forced to throw it early due to pressure.
Tight end Martellus Bennett and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery were targeted a combined 14 times. They were looked upon to make big plays and that’s exactly what they did. They combined for eight receptions for 91 yards and one touchdown. Brandon Marshall didn’t really come onto the scene until the second half, but he finished with eight receptions for 104 yards and one touchdown.
I think the worry behind Cutler throwing to Marshall too often needs to stop. The Bears were clearly running basic plays in the preseason and they didn’t want to give away too much of their offensive gameplan. Bears fans need to start referring to Marshall and Martellus Bennett as Yin and Yang, according to Bennett’s instagram.
The way Cutler spread the ball around on Sunday was nice to see. Forte contributed four catches as well and Earl Bennett caught one pass in limited snaps.
The running game wasn’t too impressive for the Bears. Forte and Bush rushed 25 times for a combined 65 yards and one touchdown with an average of 2.5 yards per carry. The longest run of the day was by Cutler, when he scrambled for 18 yards. Forte and the offensive line need to find ways to get more yards on the ground. It won’t get much easier next week against the Vikings.
A total role reversal took place on defense with Charles Tillman reeling in two interceptions and Tim Jennings forcing two fumbles and recovering one. In 2012, Tillman forced a league-leading 10 fumbles, while Jennings intercepted a league-leading nine passes.
According to ESPN Chicago, Tillman was spotted vomiting multiple times on the sidelines Sunday before receiving an IV of fluid at halftime. Tillman certainly had a tough time covering Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green in the first half, but things settled down in the second half for him and the Bears defense.
Defensive tackle Stephen Paea racked up six tackles on a day where the defensive line didn’t make many plays. He was the most consistent man on the line adding key stops in the backfield. Defensive end Shea McClellin added four tackles and the lone sack of the day, which turned out to be a big one in the fourth quarter.
Nickelback Isaiah Frey recorded four tackles in limited time with Tillman coming in and out of action. James Anderson recorded five tackles and two pass deflections in his Bears debut.
Devin Hester looked like he had a chance to take one to the house, when he returned a kickoff 31 yards in the second quarter. He’s certainly much improved since focusing solely on the return game.
It was a total effort for the Bears. It certainly was a tough matchup against a very good Bengals team, but the Bears made more plays at the end of the day.
They know what they need to improve on going forward. They need a more consistent pass rush and an improved running game to have a chance to win the NFC North.
NFC North Standings
Bears 1-0, Lions 1-0, Packers 0-1, Vikings 0-1
Jake Perper is the founder and head writer of Bearsbacker.com. Follow him on Twitter, @Bearsbacker and on Facebook for up to the minute news about the Chicago Bears.
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