During the pregame show, Dan Hampton stated that one of the three items the Chicago Bears needed to do this game, was that this organization needed to win back the fans. I nodded in agreement.
After all, after eleven years, our season pass wait was unexpectedly rushed to the finish line. Indeedy do, I am a season ticket holder; actually, my husband is, so he took our nine-year-old son to see this unofficial first game of the season. So have the Bears won their fans back with just this one game?
Those initial 60 seconds were a killer – Mike Glennon’s interception by the Broncos’ Chris Harris for a touchdown. Pure hell. I’m sure all of your screams and shrills matched mine.
Upon defense taking the field, I became confused: was this a televised scrimmage? After attending their practice this past Saturday for the annual family day, most of the players took it easy. But when would practice transfer over to game time? Mitch Unrein, Bryce Callahan, Willie Young, Sam Acho were sloppy. From pass interferences, unnecessary roughness, personal fouls, these errors kept compounding. But maybe these were actions of nervous Nelsons? Then came another disappointment by the offense – center Cody Whitehair’s poor snap to Glennon. The second turn over.
By the end of the first quarter, there was a glimmer of hope in the form of what Glennon was supposed to do…shoot these direct bullets at his target, or wide receiver Kendall Wright. But then Whitehair had to muck up the progress again; this time holding that cost us 10 yards.
With all of the jitters out of their systems, the defense worked together to hold the Broncos by blocking passes, sacking Trevor Siemian, or at the very least, stopping the play. Defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard, who gained 20 pounds while managing to retain his agility, demonstrated his power of an oncoming truck when he smashed into Broncos’ Stevan Ridley.
Once Mark Sanchez made his appearance, eight minutes in, there were additional whispers of hope. The best being his pass to running back Benny Cunningham, who ran for 26 yards. But alas, they were stopped from making any real progress.
During the final two minutes, Mitchell Trubisky made his debut aiming for the opening found by running back Kadeem Carey. Then Trubisky targeted wide receiver Joshua Bellamy. Then to tight end Adam Shaheen. Play by play, throw by throw, completed pass by completed pass, Trubisky marched them all down the field…like he was supposed to. Success was achieved with a touchdown by wide receiver Victor Cruz, who danced his salsa. The hope was found in Trubisky.
At the half, Bears 7, Broncos 10. We were on the board. The team had a beating pulse once again.
At the start, defense was able to hold the Broncos’ Paxton Lynch, providing play time for Trubisky who continued to fire his precise shots. He played nicely including wide receiver Deonte Thompson (who was demonstrating some amazing catching skills), Cunningham, rookie running back Joel Bouagnon, Bellamy, and wide receiver Ruben Randle. Midway through this drive, Trubisky was well protected, but he couldn’t find an open man, so he dodged a sack and ran to make the first down. By the end, Cunningham made the touchdown. Teamwork put them in the lead, 14 to 10.
Defense got back to work by shutting down the Broncos’ offense with no chance of earning more yards, more passes, more points.
Yet again, Trubisky was up for another drive. This one gained much momentum with a pocket pass to Thompson. At the 20 yard line, Thompson gave a celebratory spin of the ball. The refs decided to call a delay of game with a 5 yard penalty. Geez…at least they didn’t lose the first down.
With the pronounced moans and rather vocal groans, the refs reconsidered realizing that the spin was not directed at a player. Despite the Broncos keeping Trubisky’s passes at bay, kicker Connor Barth earned 3 additional points from a 25 yard field goal.
With six minutes left, defense was nowhere to be found when the Broncos found a wide opening to tie. They stalled any gains by Trubisky; the defense tried to returned the favor. Linebaker John Timu missed the 41 yard drive for a touch down. Bears 17, Broncos, 24. Crap.
Less than 2 minutes, Trubisky tried to make some action happen. Cruz slipped the ball. So he focused on tight end Ben Braunecker, Cunningham, back to Cruz, Thompson. Upon building the velocity, Trubisky took off to make the first down at the 35 yard line. Now with less than 15 seconds, he threw it to Thompson with one play left. Trubisky dodged defense to keep the play alive and fired the ball to the end zone. Incomplete.
Game over. Bears 17, Broncos 24.
Are the fans back?
Throughout the game, the sideline interviews featured defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and tight end Dion Sims. Both talked about the teamwork they have started in motion. Sims acknowledged that this game was a starting point. All they can do now is to review the tapes, make adjustments, and grow as a team.
But they must keep moving forward. They will with Trubisky as their heartbeat. Given what the team showed tonight, the fans should be moving forward right along with them.