CHICAGO (AP) — Different surroundings, familiar results for Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. And the Chicago Bears believe there is plenty more to come.
Cutler and Marshall looked sharp from the start, and the Bears beat Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins 33-31 in a preseason game on Saturday night.
“That combination is going for a lot of yards, a lot of catches, and hopefully a lot of touchdowns,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said.
This was a good start.
In their first appearance together for the Bears (tied for 11th in the AP Pro32), Cutler and Marshall picked up where they left off when they starred together with the Denver Broncos. They connected on a 41-yard pass on Chicago’s first play from scrimmage to set up the first of two first-quarter touchdown runs by Michael Bush, and the defense contained Griffin.
Making matters worse for the Redskins (No. 25), they lost Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo (shoulder) and safety Brandon Meriweather (knee) to injuries late in the first quarter.
The Bears pulled out the win on Robbie Gould’s 57-yard field goal with 31 seconds left right after Washington’s reserves gave the Redskins the lead.
Chicago racked up 262 yards in the first half after managing just 41 through the first two quarters of a preseason-opening loss to Denver, with their quarterback and Pro Bowl receiver getting off to a good start.
Held out last week following the birth of his son, Cutler threw for 122 yards and completed 7 of 13 passes before Jason Campbell took over midway through the second quarter. Marshall caught two passes for 61 yards and was targeted four times after making a brief cameo against the Broncos.
“I’ve got a few new pieces out there with Brandon and Bushy and some of those other guys, but a lot more intensity,” said Cutler, who missed the final six games last year with a broken right thumb. “I thought the sense of urgency with our guys was a lot greater this game. We came out with a purpose, a little more of an attitude up front.”
The Bears used most of their stars after they also sat Matt Forte and Julius Peppers in the preseason opener.
One notable exception — Brian Urlacher.
The Pro Bowl linebacker had an arthroscopic debridement procedure on his left knee Tuesday and he is expected to sit out the entire preseason. His status is a question mark even if his stated goal is to be ready for the regular-season opener against Indianapolis on Sept. 9.
Even with the Bears missing one of their key defensive players, Griffin had a rough time.
He played the first half, completing 5 of 8 passes for 49 yards. But he also got sacked three times and lost a fumble on one, leading to Bush’s second touchdown, before Kirk Cousins took over.
“As far as my play went, we really never got into a rhythm, but I think everybody wanted to go back in the second half,” Griffin said. “We didn’t play bad, but we didn’t play good, either.”
Shanahan liked what he saw from the Heisman Trophy winner, particularly the way he handled himself.
“He is very poised,” Shanahan said. “He is cool, calm, collected. He gets the guys going, composure, that’s the sign of a good quarterback.”
Cutler and Marshall were in sync from the start.
That 41-yarder came on the first play from scrimmage after the Redskins punted on the game’s opening possession, and it was just what the Bears envisioned when they reunited the pair.
Marshall got behind Cedric Griffin, and Cutler hit him wide open and in stride on the right side. In one play, the Bears matched their yardage for the first half against Denver last week, and they didn’t stop there.
Marshall also turned a short pass into a 20-yarder with a nice spin move on Meriweather, a former Bear, putting the ball on the 17. Bush ran it in from the 1 to give Chicago a 7-0 lead.
“The most exciting part tonight was seeing the other guys,” Marshall said. “It’s not just Jay Cutler, it’s not just Matt Forte or Brandon Marshall or Devin Hester. It’s everybody making plays, and it’s going to be tough for defenses to game plan against that.”
Things didn’t get much better from there for Washington.
Orakpo was injured trying to make a lunging tackle on Hester following a catch, and missed. He eventually had his left shoulder — which was operated on in the offseason — wrapped on the sideline.
Then, after the Redskins took over on their 17, Griffin got sacked by Israel Idonije and lost the ball. Bush immediately plowed through the middle for an 8-yard TD that made it 14-0, while Meriweather was injured trying to make the tackle. He had to be helped off the field.
There was a scary moment for the Bears early in the second half, when backup safety Brandon Hardin was carted off with a neck injury.
Hardin stayed on the turf for about 10 minutes as medical personnel tended to him before he was placed on a stretcher and taken away on a cart. He was moving his hands, and gave the thumbs-up sign as he left the field.
Notes: Shanahan said Orakpo and Meriweather will go for MRIs, although he didn’t specify when. …. Redskins LB London Fletcher sat out the game because he wasn’t feeling well. Shanahan wouldn’t say if that was because of an injury or illness. … Bears S Chris Conte injured his right shoulder during the game, and punter Adam Podlesh sustained a hip pointer injury.
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