Bears Rally, give Marc Trestman first win, 24-21

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In what has become typical Chicago Bears football, the Bears found a way to pull out a season opening win and give new Head Coach Marc Trestman his first victory as an NFL Head Coach.

The Bears offense stalled out of the gate in Sunday’s home opener, but the defense continued its relentless pursuit of the football Sunday. Tillman recorded his first two interceptions of the 2013 season in the first quarter versus Cincinnati. The first pick came at the Bengals 36, setting up the Bears first touchdown of the season. Tillman was ready and waiting and gave the Bears the opportunity to score points off of turnovers, but the offense stumbled after their first score, and it looked as if the Bengals would run away with this game.

The third quarter seems to be the time Cutler and his cast of players started to gel and make plays. The rust was shaken off and they rallied to score 14 unanswered points to win yet another season opener at Soldier Field.
Jay Cutler at Press Conference.

Trestman was low key after his first win

“I’ll start out by really thanking our fans for really amping it up in the second half, helping our football team. It was a great win for the City of Chicago and the Chicago Bears. A very good team win for our
football team. We knew it was going to be a 60 minute game I think it tested us and our backbone, because it didn’t go the way we wanted it to go certainly, in the first-half. But the guys hung in there, got
together; at half-time pulled themselves together. The team went out and played every play. We were able to come out on top.”

Turnovers a key factor in today’s victory

The Chicago Bears defense forced three turnovers (two interceptions and one opponent fumble recovery) in their Week 1 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bears converted those three turnovers into 14 points, including the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Along with Tillman, CB Tim Jennings had two forced fumbles, one of which he recovered for a takeaway.

“Peanut had two interceptions. Tim [Jennings] had two knockouts. I think we were plus two overall on turnovers. They just continue to do what we’ve seen them do throughout training camp, the OTAs. Huge plays. We were able to convert the first turnover to a touchdown. That was big. We got off to a fast start. It slowed down dramatically throughout the first half.” Said Trestman

Last season the Bears led the NFL with 44 takeaways, converting those turnovers into 145 points.

Jennings knows just how important Tillman is to the Bears D “Peanut is a pro. He knew he had a task coming into this game. A.J. Green is a great player, an explosive player, and any time when we know that Peanut is going to match up against a great player, we feel like (Peanut) is going to make some plays. That’s just the type of guy he is. He’s a competitor. He’s smart and a hard-worker. He’s just a pro, so you definitely just have to take your hats off to him for doing a great job.”

Protecting Cutler.. Another key to victory

The “New Look” Chicago Bears offensive line did not allow a sack in the season opener versus Cincinnati. It was the first time the Bears didn’t allow a sack since Week 13 versus Seattle in 2012 (December 2).

“The big goal was, let’s see how our defense is doing, let’s see if we can take care of Jay [Cutler], keep him clean in the first-half. That was really the number one goal, was just to keep him [Cutler] clean first-half. We played a very good front. We were able to keep Jay clean all day. I don’t think he was sacked. I think he ran out of the pocket a couple of times. He had to stand in there two or three times and wait on a guy to come open because it was man-to-man, and he did. We were able to beat man-to-man coverage. We really didn’t see man-to-man coverage until the second half. The guys came up across the board and made some very, very tough, contested throws, contested catches. It started with Martellus’ touchdown catch, which was a contested play. Also Alshon [Jeffery] and Brandon [Marshall] making the plays when we were able to find man-to-man coverage, which wasn’t often.” Said Trestman

Cutler was 21-of-33 (63.6 percent) passing for 242 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a 93.2 passer rating. In the second half, Cutler was 11-of-14 passing (78.6 percent) for 172 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 111.9 passer rating, leading the Bears to touchdown drives of 80 and 81 yards in the comeback win.

“We started clicking a little bit. We weren’t really happy early on. Our tempo was a little off kilter. We came into halftime, down 14-10. The defense did a great job. It was just a matter of us keep calling plays, be confident in what we were doing. The offensive line, I thought, played a great game all four quarters. We’ve just got to keep going with that. There’s plenty for us to look at on film and make some changes. We were far from a perfect offense today. We didn’t have to be, we just had to be good enough to win a four-quarter game. That’s what we did.” Said Cutler.

The 78.6 second-half completion percentage was the seventh-highest of Cutler’s Bears career.

Marshall.. Marshall… Marshall

Bears WR Brandon Marshall had eight receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown in the 2013 season opener versus Cincinnati. The second half was the key. “The second half, we were able to capitalize off our opportunities. It was a great win. It felt like a playoff game early. To start the season off against a Cincinnati Bengals team that’s really good, fast and physical, it was a great challenge for us. We knew it was going to be four quarters. Like coach Trestman says, “58 minutes, plus two,” and that’s exactly what it was. It was a big win for us. Total team win. Coach [Trestman] did a great job of getting us prepared. We did some things early, adjusted off of it and it worked.” Said Marshall.

It was Marshall’s eighth 100-yard receiving game as a member of the Bears and the 27th of his NFL career. Marshall’s eight 100-yard receiving games are already eighth most in franchise history, breaking a tie with Marty Booker and Willie Gault. Harlon Hill is the franchise leader with 19 such contests, followed by Johnny Morris (15), Mike Ditka (14), Curtis Conway (12) and Dick Gordon, Jeff Graham and Ken Kavanaugh (nine each).

The Bears are 5-3 when Marshall has over 100-yards receiving.

Rookies make an impressive debut

Bears rookies Kyle Long (first round draft pick) and Jordan Mills (fifth round draft pick) started along the offensive line at right guard and right tackle respectively versus Cincinnati.

“Well, we got out of there with a win. We’re just happy that we’re all healthy. It’s just another case of leaning on our (veteran players) and on our big playmakers. The defense did a great job, getting all of those takeaways. It’s just another example of playing a sixty-minute ball game; one half doesn’t dictate the final score. Credit the leaders in this room for keeping us focused, keeping us locked in, and credit the cardio. We have great cardio; we get a lot of reps in practice, so late in the game, we are fresh.” Said Long.

The last time Bears had two rookies start along the offensive line on opening day was 1983 when Jim Covert started at left tackle and Rob Fada started at left guard. Long is the first Bears rookie to start the season opener at right guard in the Super Bowl era. Mills is the first Bears rookie to start at right tackle on opening day since Gabe Carimi in 2011.

Before Sunday, the last time the Bears had multiple rookies start on opening day was 1998 (FS Tony Parrish and TE Alonzo Mayes).

Gould sets new Bears

Robbie Gould looked to be in mid-season form Sunday, drilling a franchise-record 58-yard field goal in the second quarter against Cincinnati. It would have been good from 63 yards. The previous record was a 57-yard field goal by Gould on December 11, 2011 at Denver. The previous long at Soldier Field was a 55-yard fi eld goal by Kevin Butler versus Minnesota on October 25, 1993.

Gould has hit 11-straight fi eld goals from 50-yards or longer tying the NFL record set by Tony Zendejas from 1988-93 (also tied by Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh on Sunday).

The Bears will face yet another test next week when the Minnesota Vikings come to Soldier Field.. Stopping Adrian Peterson.

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