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Bears' Trestman Era Opens With 24-21 Win

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Sep 9, 2013 3:00PM

The Bears began the Marc Trestman era with a 24-21 comeback win against the Cincinnati Bengals. The win makes Marc Trestman just the fourth Bears head coach to win his debut gives the Bears and their fans some confidence that the team has improved from last year's 10-6 squad.

In many ways, Sunday's Bears game felt familiar to what we've seen in recent years. The defense again made big plays, which set up the offense. The Bears took a 7-0 lead on a drive set up by Charles Tillman's first interception of Andy Dalton at the Bengals' 36-yard line. Jay Cutler capped the drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Martellus Bennett, who made a nifty grab in the back of the end zone. The Bengals countered, driving 97 yards to even the score with a 2-yard TD pass from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green. Dalton and Green later connected on 45-yard pass in the second quarter, capping a 91-yard drive and giving Cincinnati a 14-7 lead. A defensive stop late in the second quarter gave the Bears just enough time to set Robbie Gould up for a franchise-record 58-yard field goal that sent the Bears into the locker room down 14-10.

The Bengals extended their lead to 21-10 in the third quarter on a 80-yard, 12-play drive capped by a BenJarvis Green-Ellis 5-yard TD run. The Bears answered with a 1-yard touchdown run by Matt Forte TD that ended an 80-yard drive of their own. In the fourth quarter the defense struck again as Tim Jennings forced and recovered a fumble. Jay Cutler targeted Brandon Marshall on the game-winning drive with a 38-yard pass and a 19-yard TD pass.

Cutler completed 21 of 33 passes for 242 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for a 93.2 QB rating. Marshall remained his favorite target and caaught eight passes for 108 yards and a score. Martellus Bennett caught 3 passes for 49 yards, while Alshon Jeffrey caught five balls for 42 yards and Matt Forte gained 41 yards through the air on four catches. Forte also ran for 50 yards on 19 carries. The offensive line looked much improved, and rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills performed commendably on the right side of the line. Cutler escaped the day without getting sacked, and Long and Mills provided a key block on a fourth-and-inches situation that helped Forte gain eight yards and kept the game-winning drive moving.

The defense had a familiar feel to its play, even without Brian Urlacher and with a new coaching staff. Continuing the "bend but don't break" style of play seen under Lovie Smith, the Bears defense gave up yardage but also created big plays that helped shift the outcome of the game. Tillman's first interception directly led to points, while Jenning's fumble recovery stopped a Bengals drive in the red zone and set up the Bears game-winning drive. One surprise on defense was how little rookie Jon Bostic played. Despite his excellent pre-season, veteran D.J. Williams got the nod at middle linebacker. And once he was on the field, he refused to come off.

The Bears sit atop the NFC North after week one with the Detroit Lions and will face division rival Minnesota in next week at Soldier Field (Sunday, Sept. 15 at noon).