Rozner: Bears are only as good as the next game

There was a temptation for many last week to write off the Bears after a dismal, season-opening loss to the Bills at home.

This week there will be another overreaction, a temptation to crown the Bears division champs after a stirring victory over the Niners on Sunday night.

But if the Bears fail to show up next Monday night in New Jersey, Marc Trestman knows what will happen.

"That was the message in the locker room (Sunday night)," Trestman said. "The reason we were able to get to this point is we went back to work last week and focused every day in practice on doing our jobs, being at our best in our preparation on and off the field and in and out of Halas Hall.

"And that's what enabled us to have this opportunity. We'll get some rest and then we'll go back to work and try to get better as a football team."

Sure, the Bears can reap the benefits of a comeback like Sunday's, knowing that they aren't out of a game even when getting pounded, but Trestman says that's not nearly enough.

"I told the team that as you go through this marathon of a football season, you're going to have opportunities to gain some backbone, and I think this will help us," Trestman said. "But the bottom line is we have to go back to work."

And they do have plenty of work to do. As good as they played in the second half, it doesn't magically erase a dreadful start to the game.

"We fell apart in all three phases," Trestman said. "We couldn't get anything started and we got in our own way a lot."

Nothing was worse than special teams.

Senorise Perry began the game by bringing out a kick to the 14-yard line, and a holding call on the play put the Bears on the 7 to start the game.

After a three-and-out, Pat O'Donnell's punt was blocked when someone missed an assignment, and three plays later the Niners had their first touchdown.

That was a microcosm of the entire night for the special teams, which also managed three flags on one punt and one delay when Shea McClellin didn't get on the field in time.

"We've got a long way to go," Trestman said. "We've got a lot of work to do, and some of that was evident in all three phases."

On offense, Jay Cutler was brilliant and receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery played at significantly less than 100 percent and still contributed in a big way.

The running game, however, was nonexistent, as Matt Forte carried eight times for 8 yards in the first half and finished with 12 attempts for 21 yards.

But there was some better news on defense. After giving up 193 yards in the first half and 75 on the ground, the Bears gave up 54 yards rushing and a 164 yards total in the second half - a modest improvement - while collecting 4 turnovers on the night.

They also pressured Colin Kaepernick in the second half to the tune of 4 sacks, 2 by Willie Young.

"I was really happy to see them have some success," Trestman said. "We were seeing it in practice. I said throughout the week that we were seeing it on tape. We were fitting the run better. We were running to the ball better."

Jared Allen even showed up in the second half Sunday night, and while hardly sharp yet, he was in the mix a few times.

"Guys just did their jobs, and that's something we talked a lot about last week," Allen said. "Just being where you're supposed to be is crucial, and we had that. There's a lot of guys who didn't show up on the stat sheet that did a lot because they were where they were supposed to be."

Clearly, this is a work in progress.

"We were trying to find our identity," Allen said. "This is a huge step. This is a new group playing together with a lot of new guys trying to figure things out. Sometimes, adversity can help you find your identity. We need to play with that edge all the time."

In the meantime, Young believes the comeback Sunday night could be the start of something big.

"The way you respond to adversity says a lot about your character," he said. "We proved a lot to each other. It's only going to help us."

That all sounds good, but if they lose Monday night in New Jersey, the Bears are right back where they were after the Buffalo game, under water at 1-2 with the Packers looming.

That's how fast it can change.

• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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