Grading the Bears: Week 2
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So that's what a professional tight end looks like. All due respect to Da Coach, but it's been too long since the Bears had a dynamic player at this position. In the beastly, 6-foot-6, 265-pound Bennett, the Bears have more than a quirky guy who calls himself the "Black Unicorn." Bennett snared the game-winning touchdown catch from Jay Cutler with 10 seconds left, giving him 7 receptions for 76 yards. His 2 TDs gave him 3 in two games, 1 more than former starting tight end Kellen Davis had all of last season.
Quarterback (3 footballs)
Brandon Marshall says he calls Jay Cutler "Mr. Fourth Quarter." That's cool. But Bears fans would settle for "Mr. Four Consistent Quarters." Cutler's 16-yard TD strike to Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds left capped a fourth-quarter comeback for the second week in a row and, you'd have to say, made up for his 2 interceptions and 1 fumble, the latter of which the Vikings' Brian Robison returned 61 yards for a touchdown. Cutler, calm and collected on the winning drive, threw for 290 yards and 3 TDs and posted a 97.2 rating.
Running backs (4 footballs)
Matt Forte ran hard, displayed an Adrian Peterson burst and nearly matched the reigning league MVP on the stat sheet. Forte rushed for 90 yards on 19 carries, averaging 4.7 yards per attempt. The surehanded back also caught a game-best 11 passes for 71 yards. Alshon Jeffery's 38-yard gain on an end-around was the longest rush by a Bears wide receiver since Eddie Kennison in 2000.
Receivers (4 footballs)
Remember when some people were worried about Brandon Marshall's mental stability after he lamented his multiple dropped passes in a preseason game? Well, a 7-catch, 1-TD effort hiked the perennial Pro Bowler's two-game totals to 15 and 2, respectively. He's had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games. Five Bears caught passes, with Martellus Bennett adding 7 receptions, including the game-winning TD.
Offensive line (3 footballs)
The group didn't keep Cutler "clean" this game, but Jared Allen is pretty good at this rushing-the-QB thing. Allen's sack and forced fumble resulted in Robison's fumble return for TD. Left tackle Jermon Bushrod was called twice for holding. One of those penalties was declined. The right-side rookies, Kyle Long and Jordan Mills, weren't as great, but for the second straight week neither of the two big kids false-started or got flagged for holding.
Defensive line (1 1/2 footballs)
This group just isn't getting it done, and it's disturbing. That's back-to-back weeks that the Pro Bowl duo of Julius Peppers and Henry Melton has been silent. Corey Wootton had the lone sack, for zero yards. Shea McClellin (1 assisted tackle) needs to start bringing it too.
Linebackers (3 footballs)
Lance Briggs was more noticeable, dropping Peterson for negative-3 yards on the Vikings' first snap, nearly sacking Christian Ponder and earning credit for 3 passes defended. Briggs and fellow veteran James Anderson each was credited with 8 solo tackles, including one for loss. New-Bear Anderson seems to be fitting in well.
Defensive backs (3 footballs)
Tim Jennings followed up his 2-forced-fumble performance against Cincinnati with another solid game. His 44-yard interception return for touchdown was well read and a veteran play on his part. The much-criticized Ponder completed 16 of 30 passes for 227 yards against the Bears secondary and got better as the game progressed. Said Charles Tillman: "My respect level has gone up tremendously for Ponder."
Special teams (3 footballs)
Nice to see Devin Hester get a chance to return kickoffs. Nicer to see him look like the old Devin Hester, minus the lack of breakaway speed. His 249 return yards, which included 76- and 80-yarders, busted his previous team record. Robbie Gould shouldered the blame for his opening kickoff that the Vikings' Cordarrelle Patterson returned 105 yards for a touchdown.
Coaching (3 footballs)
Those special-teams penalties for having 12 men on the field are embarrassing and need to stop. Now. One is too many, and the Bears were flagged twice. Marc Trestman's variety-filled offense is so refreshing from what Bears fans saw under Lovie Smith. It's hard to win with 4 turnovers, but the never-say-die Bears and their coaches found a way to pull out a victory for the second week in a row.
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