Bears 24, Bengals 21
Take care of the ball, win the game. The Bears did that better than the Bengals today an got rewarded for it.
In a game that was tight tight throughout, the Bears scored two unanswered touchdowns to win their fourth straight Week 1 victory. The key play happened late in third quarter, with the Bengals near scoring position. Bengals wideout Mohamed Sanu caught what would’ve been a first down reception, but the ball was stripped and recovered by Bears cornerback Tim Jennings.
This turnover set the Bears up for their game-winning touchdown drive, with Jay Cutler finding Brandon Marshall for a 19-yard TD. Cutler threw an interception early in the fourth, but he was more than able to redeem himself, as he was able to go 3-4 passing on this scoring drive, and also had a key 18-yard run.
A.J. Green was dominant for much of the first three quarters, finishing up 162 yards, nine catches and two touchdowns. He and Peanut Tillman were battling all day. Tillman had two first half picks, with one coming from a Green drop. One of Tillman’s interceptions would’ve went for six as well, but Green was able to touch him as he fell to the ground while getting the pick.
Andy Dalton and Cutler both had solid games, finishing up with two touchdowns apiece. We knew they would find their favorite targets plenty, and they did, with Marshall and Green going over 100 yards. Cutler seemed more comfortable finding his other receivers, as both Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett were able to make catches over the middle. Bennett opened the scoring with a great touchdown catch in the back of the end zone for eight yards, which came shortly after Dalton’s first interception.
The offensive line problems that plagued the Bears last season were non-existent. Cutler had loads of time to make throws and wasn’t sacked once. However, the Bears struggled to get a pass rush. They finished with just one sack and Julius Peppers was unusually quiet. And this was with Bengals starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth out with a knee injury.
If recent history means much, the Bears will miss the playoffs and the Bengals will make it as a wildcard this year. The last two years, the Falcons and Colts suffered opening week losses at Soldier Field, yet still reached the playoffs, while the Bears have not made it since 2010.