Grading the Bears
With Cincinnati's offensive line eager to do his bidding in the "Benson Bowl," the Bears' 2005 first-round pick Cedric Benson loved every minute of his reunion with his former team. Fueled by a 23-yard sprint on his second carry, Benson battered his way for a career-high 189 yards in 32 rushes and scored a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.
QB (1 ball)
Forced to throw on almost every down, Jay Cutler took his share of shots (numerous) and threw his share of interceptions (3). Caleb Hanie made his NFL debut with 3:40 to go and looked excellent on his handoff to Garrett Wolfe. Trivia experts, please note his first pass was a 3-yard completion to Desmond Clark.
RB (1 ball)
Matt Forte carried 4 times for 11 yards on the Bears' initial drive and didn't rush again until late in the third quarter. With a 10-yard burst early in the fourth quarter, he finished with 6 carries for 24 yards. Late in the game, the Bengals game-day staff put Forte's numbers up against Benson's on the jumbotron. Guess whose looked better?
WR (1 ball)
Earl Bennett made a nice twisting 26-yard grab over the middle to set up the Bears' field goal. Devin Hester caught 8 of the 9 passes thrown in his direction for 103 yards and the Bears' touchdown. He also coughed up a ball after a reception that turned into Cincy's fourth TD.
OL (1 ball)
Chris Williams false-started on the Bears' first play from scrimmage. The line poked few holes during the brief period when the score still allowed for a running game. Orlando Pace picked up a holding call. Olin Kreutz delivered perhaps the team's best hit when he pasted Leon Hall out of bounds on his second interception return. One positive? Jay Cutler took a season-low 1 sack.
DL (1 ball)
Hey, Gaines Adams! The newest Bear entered on the third drive and stopped Benson for no gain on his first snap, then batted down a pass later in the drive. Everyone else, uh - maybe the missing Tommie Harris IS the key to the front.
LB (1 ball)
Lance Briggs led everyone with 13 tackles, but he also missed on Benson to ignite the Bengals' second TD drive. Hunter Hillenmeyer, making his first start in three games, was sucked in by play-action and lost tight end J.P. Foschi for the TD that made it 21-0.
Secondary (1 ball)
If anything, Chad Ochocinco undersold how well he'd perform against Charles Tillman. He had 8 catches for 103 yards with four minutes left in the first half and finished with 10 catches for 118 yards and 2 scores. Kevin Payne picked up a penalty for slapping Ochocinco in the head after being blocked on a screen pass.
Special teams (1 ball)
Johnny Knox had to return a kick every six minutes in the first half and looked increasingly uncertain (and/or tired) with each kick. Brad Maynard unleashed a beautiful punt on the Bears' first drive that landed on the 3-yard line, but Corey Graham opted to wait for the bounce that went over his head into the end zone. Who knows whether the Bengals struggle if forced to start in the shadow of their goal line? And, to put a cherry on top, Jamar Williams was penalized for running into the punter in the fourth quarter to give the Bengals a first down (even though Josh Bullocks made the contact).
Coaching (1 ball)
Lovie Smith lost his challenge to the Benson "down before the fumble" call with 6:12 left in the third quarter, though it appeared to a layman's eyes that Hillenmeyer stripped the ball before Benson hit the turf. The Bengals talked afterward about how they saw tendencies in the Bears' offense - as well as things they could exploit in the secondary.