Editor’s Note: Thanks to our Facebook fan Sadiq for writing the headline. Play along next week.
On Sunday the Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals squared off in week 1 of the NFL regular season. Cincinnati came into the season with national pundits talking Super Bowl. The Bears came into the season with a new coaching staff tasked with upgrading the offense to something that looks and acts like an actual modern day NFL offense and keeping a top 5 NFL defense performing like a top 5 NFL defense, and hoping to have a similar record as last year when they went 10-6 but missed the playoffs.
What we saw was exactly what many thought would take place; the Bengals took a 14-10 lead into half time; Bengals Quarterback Andy Dalton looked like a pro bowler and Receiver A.J. Green was battling Bears pro bowl Corner back and making him look slightly pedestrian (Tillman did have 2INTs). Dalton was 13/18 for 192 yards with 2TDs and 2INTs. Green was the beneficiary of Dalton’s solid first half and had 5 rec for 129 yards and 2TDs.
The Bears offense that everyone was so excited to finally see unveiled was kind of underwhelming. Bears QB Jay Cutler was 10/19 for 70 yards and a TD. Receiver Brandon Marshall had 5 rec for 41 yards and no TDs. Those are Mike Tice kind of numbers.
Oh what a difference a half makes.
In previous years under former Head Coach Lovie Smith, the Bears would go into halftime and the game plan didn’t seem to change or even get adjusted to combat what was actually happening in the game. There always seemed to be bad (dumb) penalties: false starts, holding, illegal procedure, poor clock management, wasted time outs, etc that would kill drives.
I didn’t see that with these Bears. I saw that with the Bengals.
At the start of the 3Q the Bengals marched down the field and scored a touchdown; their 3rd TD drive of more than 80 yards (97, 91, & 80) to go up by 11 points 21-10. After that, the Bengals became the Bungles. Their offense was effectively shut down for the rest of the game and they couldn’t seem to keep their composure at the end of the game.
Instead of pressing to make a play or anxiety, I saw confidence and poise from these Bears. On their very next drive, they orchestrated their own 80 yard drive and answered with a TD of their own with Matt Forte running up the middle at the goal line no less. When the Bengals got the ball back and started yet another drive, the Bears defense which had had its moments (of both ineptitude and brilliance) rose up an made plays. Tim Jennings who had been burned for a 45 yards TD in the first half knocked the ball out of Bengals receiver Mohamed Sanu‘s hands and jumped on the fumble. Last year’s Bears would have gone 3-and-out and had to punt the ball back to Cincinnati, but not these Bears. These Bears calmly drove down the field and scored the go ahead TD; a beautiful pass to Brandon Marshal in the corner of the end zone. They even converted a 4th and 1 with a pretty ballsy call (an outside run to the right side).