Cutler, Marshall lead Bears over Bengals
Chicago dominates second half of opener
CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears put together two long second-half touchdown drives to rally from an 11-point deficit and defeat the Cincinnati Bengals, 24-21, in their season opener on Sunday.
Jay Cutler’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall with seven minutes, 58 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter provided the winning points and gave Marc Trestman a victory in his first game as the Bears’ head coach after the offense generated just 97 yards in the first half.
The Chicago comeback began in the third quarter, immediately after the Bengals marched for a touchdown from the second-half kickoff to lead 21-10.
Cutler’s nifty scramble and pass on third down for 30 yards to tight end Martellus Bennett kept the possession alive. Matt Forte climaxed the 80-yard drive by scoring from on a 1-yard run to narrow the gap to 21-17.
After an exchange of turnovers, the Bears began a drive at their own 19-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Cutler’s deep pass to Marshall down the right sideline gained 38 yards on 3rd-and-3, and later Forte converted a 4th-and-short with an eight-yard run to the Cincinnati 19-yard line.
On the next play, Cutler hit Marshall in the front corner of the end zone for the winning points.
Cincinnati dominated the first half, driving 97 and 91 yards for touchdowns and outgaining the Bears 245 yards to 97. But the Bengals were done in by questionable clock management, which began when they chose to throw the ball instead of running out the clock near their own goal line in the closing minute of the half.
That gaffe gave the Bears just enough time for Robbie Gould to kick a franchise record 58-yard field goal and, as it turned out, that was the margin of the game.
But the Bengals were not done messing up the clock, using two timeouts on defense — one of them after the clock already was stopped for a measurement — on the Bears’ winning drive. Thus Cincinnati was out of timeouts by the middle of the fourth quarter.
The Bengals were also hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the final Chicago drive, which allowed the Bears to run out the final 6:38 of the game.
Notes: Charles Tillman had two first-half interceptions for Chicago … For the first time in 30 years, Chicago started two rookies on the offensive line — right guard Kyle Long and right tackle Jordan Mills. Carolina’s 1995 expansion team was the last NFL team to start two rookie offensive linemen … Both teams used no-huddle offenses at times, starting in the first quarter … Marvin Lewis had won seven of eight previous games against the NFC Central as the Bengals’ coach … The Bears outgained the Bengals in the second half, 226 yards to 95.