Bears 33, Chargers 28

Jay Cutler targeted Brandon Marshall and no one else. He zipped

a pass into double coverage, only to get intercepted.

The new and supposedly improved offense stagnated and the

defense made up for it.

Same old Chicago Bears? On the surface, it sure seemed like

it.

Cutler looked shaky again and the defense came through,

harassing Philip Rivers early on and setting the tone for the Bears

in a 33-28 preseason victory over the San Diego Chargers on

Thursday night.

All eyes remain on the quarterback after the Bears made some big

changes on offense in the offseason, hiring coach Marc Trestman to

replace Lovie Smith and revising their line.

So far, the results are mixed at best.

”There are certain plays we’re running for the first time

against a live defense other than the Bears’,” Cutler said.

”There are certain things you just have to experience. Sometimes

you make mistakes, and sometimes it’s going to go off without a

hitch. When I was in Denver, we ran that offense for three years.

Year 3, I think all of us had a great grasp of it. We don’t have

that luxury right now.”

Cutler played a quarter and completed 4 of 5 passes for 38 yards

and a touchdown, but the only receiver he targeted was Marshall,

who is recovering from offseason hip surgery and sat out last

week.

Field position played a role in that, as did the Bears not

wanting to show too much of their playbook. Still, that’s not a

good sign for a team that wants to distribute the ball more evenly

this year.

On a more positive note for the Bears’ offense, Matt Forte ran

for 74 yards and a touchdown on eight attempts after carrying just

once in a loss at Carolina in the preseason opener.

His 58-yard run around the left end set up the game’s first

touchdown, a 5-yard strike from Cutler to Marshall.

Rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills held their ground at right

guard and tackle.

Devin Hester also showed a spark, returning the game’s opening

kickoff 45 yards. And reserve Michael Ford ran one back 100 yards

in the third quarter, leading to a 3-yard scoring run by Michael

Bush.

The first-team defense sacked Rivers three times and forced two

turnovers, even though star defensive end Julius Peppers

(hamstring), defensive tackle Henry Melton (concussion) and

linebacker D.J. Williams (strained right calf) sat out with

injuries.

The Chargers lost again after getting pounded by Seattle last

week.

Rivers downplayed the turnovers, even though he got swarmed as

soon as he stepped on the field. He was 5 of 9 for 50 yards with an

interception, and he lost a fumble on a sack by Shea McClellin,

leading to a 3-yard run by Forte that made it 14-0 near the end of

the first quarter.

”I think that can be overanalyzed,” Rivers said. ”They are

what they are, but I don’t see it as a step back. I have seen some

bad play and non-rhythmic offenses in the preseason, then they have

great years, and I have seen some great drives in the preseason and

they all go for nothing in the regular season.”

Backup Charlie Whitehurst came in early in the second quarter

and was 6 for 9 for 69 yards and a touchdown. He fumbled away his

first snap, leading to a field goal by Robbie Gould, but he also

led the Chargers on an 80-yard TD drive late in the half.

Cutler got sacked twice on the opening drive, an ominous start

after he threw an interception on Chicago’s first play from

scrimmage the previous week.

Jarret Johnson burst through the left side to force a fumble on

second down that the Bears recovered, and Cutler held the ball too

long on the next play, resulting in a sack for Corey Liuget.

Forte set up Chicago’s first touchdown on the next possession

when he turned a pitch into a 58-yard sprint down the left side to

the 5. Marshall, who sat out last week after having offseason hip

surgery, then caught a strike from Cutler in tight coverage to give

the Bears a 7-0 lead.

They had a chance to add to it after Chris Conte picked off

Rivers at the 35 on the next possession. But on the first play,

Cutler got intercepted by Donald Butler trying to hit Marshall in

double coverage.

”I didn’t misread,” Cutler said. ”I knew what I was doing.

(I) kind of got clipped, I let it go, but those are the ones that

you kind of want to check down after you see the picture.”

Trestman tried to take some blame for the pick, saying the Bears

had not run that play much.

He also made it clear he wasn’t thrilled with Cutler’s decision,

saying, ”There’s a time to force the ball and use your arm and put

it up into man-to-man coverage when there’s a single man and a

single player, and that really wasn’t one of those

situations.”

That Peppers sat out his second game was a bit of a surprise,

considering Trestman had said he would play.

The Chargers held out Danny Woodhead because of his undisclosed

injury and receiver Malcolm Floyd after he hurt his right knee in

practice on Monday. Rookie linebacker Manti Te’o also sat out as

expected after spraining his right foot against Seattle last

week.

Liuget left late in the first quarter with a shoulder injury.

And Bears third-string quarterback Matt Blanchard broke a knuckle

on his left hand in the second half, forcing Josh McCown back into

the game. Trestman wasn’t sure how long he would be out but did say

the Bears will need to bring in another QB.

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