By Adam Hoge-
SOLDIER FIELD (CBS) One team was steady and collected. The other was stupid and careless.
It was just one game, but in Marc Trestman’s debut as the head coach of the Chicago Bears, his team’s play resembled the calm demeanor of the man in charge, a trait that appeared to help the Bears erase a 21-10 deficit and win 24-21.
Trestman came in with a smart game plan that started conservative and ended with a gusty fourth-down call quarterback Jay Cutler called “ballsy”. The decision to run behind rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills on the right side of the offensive line on fourth down set up a 19-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall that proved to be the dagger in an impressive win over a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
- Cutler, Marshall Lead Bears Over Bengals 24-21
- Bernstein: Trestman Responds
- Hoge: Armed With Protection And A Smart Game Plan, Cutler Delivers
- Durkin’s Rapid Reaction: Bears 24, Bengals 21
- Photo Gallery: Bears V Bengals
So, naturally, the game ball the coach usually hands to a player was reversed. Instead, it was Lance Briggs who handed the game ball to Trestman, according to Marshall.
“Coach Trestman — he’s a special guy. He really is,” Marshall said. “His hands stay steady. There’s no ups and downs. He’s special, man, and it was a great win for him.”
Bengals Melt Down
The Bears deserve a lot of credit for coming back Sunday, but the Bengals certainly did their part to help the cause.
On top of turning the ball over three times, the Bengals were guilty of two crucial personal fouls, one of which effectively ended the game.
The problems really started right before halftime, when Cincinnati decided to throw the ball on 2nd-and-14 from their own 8 yard line with just 59 seconds left in the half. The Bears only had one timeout left, so the incomplete pass allowed them to get the ball back with some time left on the clock.
The time-management mistake became an even bigger issue, however, when Eric Weems baited Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick into a personal foul on the ensuing punt. That gave the Bears an extra 15 yards, which allowed them to try an ambitious 58-yard field goal.
With the wind at his back, Robbie Gould nailed the kick — a career-high and Bears franchise record — with plenty of room to spare. Considering the game ended 24-21, that field goal ended up being pretty important.
After the game, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was defensive when asked about throwing the ball on second down in that situation: “You want to pull our pants completely down and not play at all right before halftime?”
The problems for the Bengals continued in the second half as they burned through all their timeouts, using their second one right before the Bears’ big fourth down conversion and the third one immediately following that play. Neither timeout helped the Bengals as the Bears gained eight yards on 4th-and-1 before Cutler hit Marshall for the game-winning 19-yard touchdown on the very next play.
But the most inexcusable of all the mistakes came right after the Bengals successfully stopped the Bears on third down and were going to get the ball back with under a minute left in the game. That’s when Bears right tackle Jordan Mills locked onto Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga and frustrated him enough that Maualuga slammed Mills to the ground well after the whistle, drawing a personal foul penalty that gave the Bears a first down and clinched the win.
“I wasn’t letting him go, so he kind of got mad because I was blocking him,” Mills said. “He’s a great player. He made a mistake. Even though I wanted to retaliate, I had to keep my composure.”
Tillman Has Up And Down Day
Charles Tillman lived up to his reputation as a turnover machine Sunday as he picked off Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton twice. However, he also had the tough task of guarding wide receiver A.J. Green and there were moments he’d like to have back.
Green finished with nine catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns and made some incredible plays. Some of them resulted from mistakes Tillman made and others were just indefensible plays. Tillman was also guilty of a 34-yard pass interference penalty on Green that gave the Bengals the ball at the one-yard line and resulted in a touchdown.
To his credit, though, Tillman kept Green pretty quiet in the second half despite battling dehydration though out the game.
– Defensive end Shea McClellin saw a lot of playing time and recorded the Bears’ only sack of the game.
– Wide receiver Earl Bennett, who took a pay cut Friday, was only targeted once. He caught the pass for a six-yard gain.
-Four active Bears players did not see the field Sunday: quarterback Josh McCown, defensive end Cornelius Washington and offensive linemen Taylor Boggs and Eben Britton.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.