CHICAGO (AP) –Whether Jay Cutler was in the game or Jordan Palmer or Jimmy Clausen were behind center, the Chicago Bears had no trouble finding the end zone.
Cutler, Palmer and Clausen threw touchdown passes to help Chicago beat the Philadelphia Eagles 34-28 on Friday night in their preseason opener.
The Bears rattled Nick Foles in the early going, intercepting two passes, even though they were missing Jared Allen. The five-time Pro Bowl defensive end and prized free-agent acquisition missed practices this week with his wife giving birth to a girl.
Tight end Martellus Bennett remained suspended by the team for his role in an altercation with cornerback Kyle Fuller at practice Monday. The Bears also were missing right guard Kyle Long (ankle) and right tackle Jordan Mills (foot), but had no trouble moving the ball.
Cutler made the most of his two possessions, completing 9 of 13 passes for 85 yards. Then, he watched as both contenders made their case for the backup quarterback job.
Palmer got the first shot and went 8 of 11 for 104 yards with the touchdown and an interception.
Clausen started the third quarter and threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns, including a 73-yarder to Chris Williams along the right sideline. Later in the quarter, he connected with Michael Spurlock on a 22-yard scoring pass and hit Dante Rosario on the two-point conversion to put Chicago ahead 31-28.
For Foles, it was simply a brutal night. The quarterback who posted the NFL’s highest passer rating and threw just two interceptions in 13 games last season could not get in sync.
He wound up with 44 yards on 6-of-9 passing before Jets castoff Mark Sanchez took over.
Sanchez was 7 for 10 for 79 yards against backups on defense.
Matthew Tucker ran for 40 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with a hamstring injury. Josh Huff returned a kickoff 102 yards late in the first half to give the Eagles a 21-14 lead.
Foles’ troubles started on the game’s first possession when he got pressured and threw the ball right to Chicago’s Ryan Mundy, resulting in an easy interception for a player vying for time at safety. The Bears stalled after taking over at the Philadelphia 24 and the drive ended with Damion Square blocking Robbie Gould’s 41-yard field-goal attempt.
Cutler led the Bears on a 69-yard touchdown drive on their next possession, finishing it with a 10-yard strike to Zach Miller between Philadelphia’s DeMeco Ryans and Nate Allen to make it 7-0.
Foles then had the Eagles threatening, but with the ball on the 32, a short pass intended for Zach Ertz got picked off by Sherrick McManis.
It wasn’t until Sanchez came on in the second quarter and Chicago pulled its defensive starters that the Eagles’ offense started to convert.
He was decisive, on target and a big reason why they scored touchdowns on three straight possessions to take a 21-14 halftime lead.
Sanchez led them on 53 and 51-yard scoring drives that ended with short runs by Tucker to put Philadelphia up 14-7.
Palmer then completed all six passes on the next drive and finished it with a 12-yard TD to Miller to tie it for Chicago with just over a minute left, but in a flash, the Eagles regained the lead. Huff returned the kickoff 102 yards untouched up the left sideline to put them up 21-14 at the half.
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