A fine defensive line lifts Bears in preseason opener
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter August 8, 2014 11:10PM
BEARS 34, EAGLES 28
Philadelphia 0 21 7 0 — 28
BEARS 7 7 17 3 — 34
BEARS—Miller 10 pass from Cutler (Gould kick), 3:18.
PHIL—Tucker 4 run (Henery kick), 9:38.
PHIL—Tucker 1 run (Henery kick), 5:50.
BEARS—Miller 12 pass from Palmer (Gould kick), 1:07.
PHIL—Huff 102 kickoff return (Henery kick), :54.
BEARS—FG Gould 26, 11:16.
PHIL—Fluellen 14 pass from Barkley (Henery kick), 7:02.
BEARS—C.Williams 73 pass from Clausen (pass failed), 6:04.
BEARS—Spurlock 22 pass from Clausen (Rosario pass from Clausen), 1:29.
BEARS—FG Gould 25, 1:55.
TEAM STATS PHIL BEARS
First downs 24 27
Total Net Yards 359 491
Rushes-yards 18-76 32-92
Passing 283 399
Punt Returns 0-0 2-2
Kickoff Returns 6-181 3-74
Interceptions Ret. 2-9 3-12
Comp-Att-Int 28-45-3 29-44-2
Sacked-Yards Lost 1-1 1-8
Punts 5-46.0 4-40.5
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties-Yards 9-89 14-103
Time of Possession 23:06 36:54
RUSHING—Philadelphia, Tucker 8-40, Fluellen 6-25, Sproles 3-11, McCoy 1-0. BEARS, Lynch 7-24, Carey 10-23, Perry 5-17, Clausen 1-16, Ford 5-15, Draughn 1-2, Forte 3-(minus 5).
PASSING—Philadelphia, Kinne 8-10-0-88, Sanchez 7-10-0-79, Barkley 7-16-1-73, Foles 6-9-2-44. BEARS, Clausen 7-13-0-150, Palmer 8-11-1-104, Cutler 9-13-0-85, Fales 5-7-1-68.
RECEIVING—Philadelphia, Ertz 4-60, J.Matthews 4-14, Pratt 3-39, Casey 3-33, Boone 2-33, Momah 2-15, D.Johnson 2-12, Maclin 1-15, Tucker 1-15, Fluellen 1-14, Murphy 1-14, McCoy 1-8, Huff 1-4, Josey 1-4, Smith 1-4. BEARS, Miller 6-68, Marshall 5-31, Spurlock 4-56, C.Williams 2-78, Morgan 2-36, Rosario 2-28, Mastrud 2-16, Bellamy 1-41, Jeffery 1-16, Perry 1-13, Moss 1-12, Draughn 1-10, Herd 1-2.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—BEARS, Gould 41 (BK).
Updated: August 9, 2014 1:19AM
It’s only the preseason, but the Bears got the bump they were looking for from their defensive line in the exhibition opener Friday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Even without starting end Jared Allen, the defensive front of Willie Young, Jeremiah Ratliff, Stephen Paea and Lamarr Houston was the clear victor as the first-team defense forced a turnover and a punt in two possessions in the Bears’ 34-28 victory at Soldier Field.
“We feel like all the work we’ve been putting in is paying off,” Houston said. “I feel good that we came out energized. We played physical. Guys were in the game. We were ready to play. That’s a good feeling.”
There were some extenuating circumstances — LeSean McCoy had one carry for no gain. And a slew of penalties by an officiating crew clearly trying to set an early tone put the Eagles in long-yardage situations that allowed the Bears to play with the wind at their back.
Still, the Bears were able to take advantage of opportunity — something they rarely did last season. And Ratliff and reserve Trevor Scott appeared to force the Eagles into holding infractions that helped the Bears’ cause.
Either way, they played a key role. On third-and-eight from the Eagles’ 27 on the first possession of the game, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles had a 20-yard pass play to Brent Celek nullified by a holding penalty on guard Evan Mathis against Ratliff.
Instead of a first down at the Philadelphia 47, the Eagles had a third-and-18 at their 17. With Young and Houston applying pressure, Foles hurried a pass for third-team receiver Ifeanyi Momah, and it was intercepted by safety Ryan Mundy, who returned it 11 yards to the Eagles’ 24.
“Our defensive line is going to be real,” Scott said. “We have a lot of guys on this D-line — that’s one of the big things we want to focus on. We have a lot of pieces in play right now. Everything will sort itself out.”
On the Eagles’ second possession, Jeremy Maclin was called for a facemask penalty, and the Bears’ defense was in another favorable situation with a first-and-20 at the Eagles’ 22.
After another holding penalty, the Eagles were in a first-and-30 situation at their 12. On third-and-26 at the Eagles’ 16, a big rush by Scott forced a hold by Jason Peters — but it was declined after Foles’ eight-yard pass to McCoy was well short of the first down, and the Eagles punted.
In two series against the Bears’ first-team defense, the Eagles gained 26 yards on seven plays with a turnover and had 35 yards in penalties.
“We just got a good feel for football again,” Houston said. “Being out there with the guys. Things being full speed, game speed. I wouldn’t say we have enough to say anything is set in stone or we’re doing anything spectacular.”
After the Bears took a 7-0 lead on Jay Cutler’s 10-yard pass to Zach Miller, the Bears’ second-team defense — with a front four of Scott, rookies Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson and end Austen Lane — stopped Foles again when Sherrick McManis intercepted him at the Bears’ 21-yard line.
Foles, who led the NFL in passer rating (119.2) last season, threw as many interceptions in one quarter against the Bears (two) as he did in 10 starts last season, when he threw 27 touchdown passes. It remains to be seen if that’s because of a rusty Eagles offense that needs a lot of reps to get in high gear. But regardless of the circumstances, for a Bears defense that was embarrassed last season, it looked like improvement it can build on.