By Carlos Nazario
The Chicago Bears played their third preseason game last Saturday, and though they lost to the Tennessee Titans 14-13, the offense really shined.
Most of the starters played into early the third quarter to get them ready for the preseason, and they looked impressive.
The Bears offense clicked on offense, though there was a little hiccup. On their first drive, Roy Williams mishandled a Jay Cutler pass and it fell into Titans safety Michael Griffin’s hands.
Williams has been feeling some pressure from media and fans alike for his poor performance in this preseason. He was brought in to be the big target for Cutler, but thus far he has more drops (3) than catches (2). Now Coach Lovie Smith is threatening to demote Williams in favor of last year’s starter, Johnny Knox. In fact, after Williams’ drop in the first quarter, Smith had Knox playing with the starters.
On the Bears second drive, they ran like a well oiled machine. Matt Forte capped the 12-play, 59 yard drive that lasted 5:46 with a 3 yard touchdown run. On that drive, the offense converted on 3 third downs and the Bears had a 7-0 lead.
In the first quarter, the Bears offensive line dominated the Titans defensive front. They had 137 yards of offense (76 passing and 31 rushing) and it continued into the second quarter. At halftime, the Bears amassed 239 yards. Cutler was 13-20 for 170 yards, and Matt Forte had 67 yards rushing.
Once again, the offensive line came through. For the second straight game, they only allowed one sack, in the fourth quarter. They opened holes for the running game, which gained 148 yards on 35 carries. Cutler and backup Caleb Hanie were protected and passed for a combined 268 yards, but threw an interception in the red zone which was returned 90 yards for the deciding score.
The defense had a pretty strong showing as well. They held the Titans offense to only 220 yards. Tennessee had a drive in the second quarter in which they also converted on 3 third downs, but after a failed one, they went for it on fourth and the Bears forced a turnover on downs. Late in that quarter, however, the Titans went 80 yards on 10 plays for their first score.
Robbie Gould kicked made 2 of his three field goals for the only other scores for the Bears. The special teams had a quiet night, only having 3 kickoff return chances, and no punt return chances.
Cutler liked the progression of the offense to this point. “Well, we got better again,” Cutler said. “We left some points out there, you hate to see that but our offensive line played better, the receivers played better and Matt ran the ball. So, we’re getting there. We’re not quite ready for the opener but we’re getting there.”
The Bears finish up the preseason Thursday against the Cleveland Browns. The hope is they get where they want to be before their regular season opener against the Falcons on September 11.