Brandon Marshall was a bit taken aback when he lined up before his 19-yard TD reception, which provided the winning points Sunday against Cincinnati.
He was 1-on-1 … and with a safety, no less.
Contact information ( * required )
"I didn't understand it," Marshall said. "Fourth quarter, with a safety (Reggie Nelson) on me, 1-on-1. I can only ask for that and dream about that.
"I tried to sell the inside route. He jumped it a little bit, and we had a clear lane (to the outside)."
Quarterback Jay Cutler threw the ball a bit late, but Marshall was able to make the grab moving toward the sideline, just past the pylon in the front corner of the south end zone.
Marshall finished with 8 receptions for 104 yards, both team highs.
That was a common occurrence last season, when Marshall set franchise records with 118 catches and 1,508 yards. But the Bears' offense was one of the league's worst, finishing 29th in passing yards and 28th in total yards.
The goal this year is to establish a more balanced attack, as the Bears had Sunday, Alshon Jeffery had 5 catches for 42 yards, running back Matt Forte caught 4 passes for 41 yards, and tight end Martellus Bennett had 3 receptions for 49 yards and a TD.
Tight end Martellus Bennett was supposed to make fans forget about the fumble-fingered Kellen Davis, his predecessor.
But, on his first opportunity as a Bear, Bennett did his best Davis imitation, dropping a ball that hit him squarely in the hands on the opening play from scrimmage in the new season.
"Jittery, first game, Soldier Field, anxious," he said. "I tried to do too much with the first one, so it was good to come back with a strong catch."
On the next possession, quarterback Jay Cutler went back to Bennett and was rewarded with a brilliant leaping catch in traffic at the back of the end zone that gave the Bears a 7-0 lead.
The ball was tipped en route to Bennett, but he got his hands on it and held on as he was hammered by safety George Iloka.
"Jay trusted me enough just to put it up there, where I could get it, over the defenders, and I was able to come down with it," Bennett said. "I had to channel my inner Brandon Marshall.
"My first 'catch,' ended up being a drop. I bet everyone was like, 'Here we go again.' But my first catch was a touchdown. That's what I'm here for, to try and score as many as I get."
Of the 13 previous Bears head coaches, only three had won in their debuts before Marc Trestman: George Halas (1920), Neill Armstrong (1978) and Dick Jauron (1999). … The last time the Bears had two rookies start on the offensive line before Kyle Long and Jordan Mills on Sunday, was 1983, when Jim Covert opened at left tackle and Rob Fada at left guard.