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updated: 8/23/2011 11:00 PM

For Bears, news not all bad

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  • Giants running back Brandon Jacobs breaks free from a tackle attempt by Bears defensive end Israel Idonije on Monday night.

      Giants running back Brandon Jacobs breaks free from a tackle attempt by Bears defensive end Israel Idonije on Monday night.
    Associated Press

 
 

As coach Lovie Smith humorously mentioned in his postgame news conference, the Bears escaped their 41-13 Monday night loss to the New York Giants without any physical injuries.

Their pride, though, was certainly wounded.

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"Injury wise, we didn't have any, of course," Smith said. "You have to tackle a little bit better before you start talking about injuries -- and we didn't."

Quarterback Jay Cutler was grateful to his offensive line for preserving his health, considering last year's regular-season game at New Meadowlands Stadium left him concussed after 9 first-half sacks.

"(We) have a little bit different (group of) guys up front right now, but I think they wanted to come out and have a good showing and keep me upright," Cutler said. "I think they played a really solid half."

Cutler was sacked just once while throwing for 171 yards in his one half of play, and the Bears outthrew the Giants 333 yards to 162 for the game.

But the running game, which was so impressive in the preseason opener against Buffalo (164 yards), managed just 81 yards on 26 carries Monday, a disappointing 3.1-yard average.

Cutler said it isn't a concern.

"We didn't really give Matt (Forte) an opportunity," Cutler said. "We wanted to see how we could hold up passing. We know those guys can run block; they run block really well.

"We wanted to give them a chance to pass protect a little bit, get some seven-step (drops), try to get a little bit of rhythm, and I think we made some strides in that area."

Forte got just 4 carries and produced only 7 yards.

"Obviously we need to work on our run game a lot more, but that comes," Forte said. "It takes time and reps. That's why we play these preseason games."

Forte wasn't complaining about the focus on throwing the ball. It gave him an opportunity to turn a short toss into a 42-yard pickup.

"I'm involved in the passing game as well," he said. "I just do what the play is called. When they call in a lot of pass plays, I'm not going to go to the sideline and say, 'Hey, I think we should run the ball.' That's not my job."

For much of the night, no one on the Bears' defense seemed to think that tackling was part of their job. Were the missed tackles just a phase of the preseason process or an indication of down-the-road problems?

The defense played well enough last season to be given the benefit of the doubt, and that was the general consensus.

"Certain games are just like that," said nickel back D.J. Moore, who had 4 solo tackles. "People were just doing fundamentally wrong stuff, including me and everybody else.

"But I can't really say too much; it's the preseason. As long as it ain't happening in the season, I'll be fine with it."

Smith's mood wasn't quite as charitable, and Da'Rei Scott's 97-yard TD run late in the game didn't sit well with him.

"Take-aways -- we didn't get any," the Bears' coach said. "We have to take the ball away. (It's) kind of as simple as that. And then at the end, it doesn't matter who's out there, if you have on a Chicago Bears uniform ... I don't know if we've ever given up a (97)-yard touchdown run.

"Tackling wasn't good. I guess I better stop and go on to something else; I can keep talking about how (poorly) we played defensively."

But one poor performance wasn't enough for Smith to doubt the caliber of the defense.

"We didn't play well," he said, "but we're going to play great defense this coming season."

The regular-season opener vs. the Atlanta Falcons is just 18 days away.

•Follow Bob's Bears reports via Twitter @BobLeGere and check out our Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com.

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