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Cutler, Marshall lead Bears over Bengals 24-21


September 08. 2013 4:41PM
Associated Press

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(AP) Far from polished, the Chicago Bears played well enough to hand Marc Trestman a win in his debut.


Jay Cutler passed to Brandon Marshall for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, helping the Bears rally for a 24-21 victory over the sloppy Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday and giving Trestman a victory in his first game.


It wasn't quite the display the Bears were looking for after making some big changes in the offseason. But they made the most of a handful of big plays by Cutler and repeated mistakes by the Bengals.


Cutler threw for 242 yards. Marshall had 104 receiving, and the offense pulled it out in the end after struggling most of the way.


The Bengals led by 11 in the third quarter and were up 21-17 early in the fourth when Tim Jennings jarred the ball from Mohamed Sanu following a reception and made the recovery.


Chicago took over at its 19 and got an 8-yard run from Matt Forte on fourth-and-inches at the Bengals 27 to keep the drive going. Cutler then found Marshall in the front corner of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown, giving Chicago a 24-21 lead with 7:58 remaining.


The Bears made big changes in the offseason, parting with star linebacker Brian Urlacher and hiring Trestman to replace the fired Lovie Smith with the idea that he could spark the offense and lead them to the playoffs after missing out five of the past six years.


Clearly, there's work to do. The offense seemed stuck most of the afternoon but came through in the end, with Cutler completing 21 of 33 passes. He also had two touchdowns to go with an interception.


Marshall caught eight passes, and Martellus Bennett had an acrobatic TD catch for the game's first score.


Charles Tillman matched a career high with two interceptions, giving him 35 overall for Chicago. And Robbie Gould set a franchise record with a 58-yard field goal at the end of the first half.


Cincinnati's Andy Dalton threw for 282 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. A.J. Green had 162 yards receiving and two touchdowns, including a 45-yarder. But it was a disappointing opener for a team coming off back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 1981 and 1982.


Up 14-10 at the half, the Bengals started the third quarter with an 80-yard scoring drive.


Tillman got called for interference on a deep pass to Green that put the ball on the 1, and Green-Ellis plowed in from the 5 after being hit with a 4-yard loss, making it 21-10.


But the Bears responded with an 80-yard drive that ended with Forte running it in from the 1 to get them back within four.


Vontaze Burfict intercepted Cutler near midfield early in the fourth quarter and limped off the field after taking a shot to the knee from Chicago's Kyle Adams. He quickly returned to the game.


Cincinnati took over at the Bears 40, but Sanu's fumble at the 17 led to a big swing.


Tillman's interceptions aside, the Bengals kept the Bears' defense off balance in the first half and took a 14-10 lead to the locker room.


Dalton threw for 192 yards in the first two quarters while Green chipped in with 129 yards and two TDs, all after an ominous start for Cincinnati.


The Bears, who led the league with 44 takeaways last season, got one on the Bengals' first possession.


Tillman set up the game's first touchdown when he picked off a pass intended for Green at the Bengals 36, and Martellus Bennett caught an 8-yard pass from Cutler in the back of the end zone, juggling the ball and controlling it as Cincinnati's George Iloka landed on him. The two got into each other's faces and the teams exchanged some angry words, but there were no apparent punches or penalties.


The Bengals tied it late in the first quarter on a 2-yard pass from Dalton to Green after they connected on a 42-yarder, and were threatening to take the lead midway through the second quarter, only to be foiled by Tillman.


This time, Dalton's pass went right off Green's hands. Tillman picked the ball off at the 17 and returned it 41 yards to the Cincinnati 42, but the Bears couldn't take advantage.


The Bengals then went 91 yards, with a wide-open Green beating Jennings for a 45-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead with just under three minutes left in the half.


Gould made it a four-point game in the closing seconds of the half with a team-record 58-yard field goal. Gould's big kick came after questionable time management by the Bengals when they had the ball late in the quarter.


___


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Associated Press


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