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updated: 8/13/2011 10:20 PM

Cutler on the run, but Bears beat Bills

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  • Quarterback Jay Cutler was hit early and often, but powered by a strong defense, the Bears held on for a 10-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills Saturday at Soldier Field.

    Quarterback Jay Cutler was hit early and often, but powered by a strong defense, the Bears held on for a 10-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills Saturday at Soldier Field.
    Associated Press

Associated Press

Jay Cutler was on the run again and out of the game in a hurry.

Cutler played just one series and watched as the Bears beat the Buffalo Bills 10-3 on Saturday night even though the offensive line did little to ease any lingering concerns.

The Bills got two sacks from Shawne Merriman and nine in all, but the Bears prevailed on a soggy night in which both teams pulled their starters early.

Cutler and Chicago's skill position starters played one series, with the linemen staying in for the first half. On defense, the first stringers lasted two series, while the Bills lifted their starters on both sides after two.

Cutler could be excused if he experienced flashbacks to last season, when he was sacked an NFL-leading 52 times. He again had little time with the defense bearing down on him and couldn't do much in his first appearance at Soldier Field since an NFC championship loss to Green Bay.

He missed most of that game because of a sprained ligament in his left knee and had his toughness questioned by current and former players.

This time, he stayed healthy. He just couldn't do much.

All Cutler managed behind a revamped line that no longer includes the departed Olin Kreutz was this -- a shovel pass to Matt Forte on the Bears' second play from scrimmage and then a 10-yard scramble. He got sacked by rookie Marcell Dareus on a third down at the 35 before Chicago punted.

Newcomer Roy Williams didn't have a ball thrown his way.

Forte stayed on for one more play after that shovel pass and didn't attempt a run but was at least in uniform. He had considered holding out at the start of training camp because he wants a new contract, and considered sitting out this one, too.

Newcomer Marion Barber made a good impression, running for 45 yards and leading the Bears to a second-quarter touchdown. He carried six times for 37 yards on that drive, setting up a 4-yard run by backup quarterback Caleb Hanie that put Chicago ahead 7-3.

Hanie got a rude welcome on the previous possession when he was sacked on consecutive plays by Merriman. That forced Chicago to punt after Johnny Knox returned the kickoff 70 yards following a 44-yard field goal by Rian Lindell late in the first quarter.

For the line, it was simply a rough night.

Kreutz, the six-time Pro Bowl center, is gone after contract negotiations collapsed, and the Bears are going with veteran Roberto Garza rather than newcomer Chris Spencer for now.

Garza got beat on Merriman's second sack, and it wasn't a good night for the rest of the blockers, either.

The Bills had to like what they saw from Merriman and Dareus, the third pick in the draft.

Buffalo is counting on both players to help a defense that ranked last against the run a year ago and got hit hard by injuries while trying to adapt to the 3-4. That's one reason Buffalo went 4-12 last season.

They never got the spark they were seeking from Merriman because the three-time Pro Bowler injured his Achilles tendon about 15 minutes into his first practice with Buffalo last November after being waived by San Diego. He missed the rest of the season.

It wasn't a bad night for Ryan Fitzpatrick, either. He completed 7 of 9 passes for 44 yards for the Bills.

Stevie Johnson, the man the Bills are counting on to take over the No. 1 spot with Lee Evans gone, caught three passes for 15 yards. Fred Jackson ran for 18 yards on three carries.

The Bears got a 45-yard field goal from Robbie Gould with just under six minutes left in the game to make it 10-3.

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