Martellus Bennett huge in the clutch for Bears
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org September 15, 2013 9:24PM
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Updated: September 16, 2013 11:59AM
Tight end Martellus Bennett leaped behind the podium after the game and landed with a resounding thump.
He had emphatically arrived.
“I’ll try not to curse this week,” Bennett told the media.
Only the Vikings are cursing after the Bears’ 31-30 victory Sunday.
Bennett’s touchdown grab against the Bengals in Week 1 was a good sign, and he topped it against Minnesota.
He caught the game-winning 16-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds left in regulation, capping a standout performance that included a touchdown catch in the first quarter among seven catches for 76 yards.
Bennett, who wants to be considered an elite tight end alongside the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski, the Saints’ Jimmy Graham and the Cowboys’ Jason Witten, is making quite an impression.
“Whenever he’s gotten opportunities to make plays, he’s made some big ones,” quarterback Jay Cutler said.
Bennett continues to show why he was signed and why Kellen Davis is no longer here. In two games, Bennett already has surpassed Davis’ touchdown total from last season with three. He has 10 catches in two games. Davis had 19 in 16 games last season.
Bennett has opened doors for Cutler that weren’t there the last two seasons. Plus, coach Marc Trestman and Cutler know how to use him.
On his first touchdown, Bennett was wide open in the flat after receiver Alshon Jeffery’s slant route impeded safety Jamarca Sanford’s coverage. On Bennett’s second score, Cutler said the Bears had run that “combo” four or five times.
“They’re not going to like what they see on film,” Cutler said. “They should’ve had a pretty good play to defend it. The corner [Chris Cook] got a little sneaky, came down with Earl [Bennett]. The safety [Harrison Smith] stayed, too, [and] gave us a shot.”
Bennett’s connection with Cutler played a role.
He said they talked about a back-shoulder throw if they ran the play again and the cornerback stayed over the top in coverage.
And it happened.
“That’s two weeks in a row where the communication between me and Cutler showed up in the red zone,” Bennett said.
Even more impressive is that Bennett made his second touchdown catch with an injured shoulder. He hurt it trying to make a leaping grab in the back of the end zone in the second quarter.
“I was just trying to make a play, and I messed up my shoulder, so I’m in a lot of pain,” Bennett said.
“But you’ve got to go back in there and finish up. At this level, I just feel like tight end is a position that you’ve got to play through a lot of injuries and a lot of pain.”
There’s definitely no replacing Bennett. Receiver Brandon Marshall said it’s huge to have a tight end like him in the offense.
Bennett made a 23-yard reception before his touchdown catch. He probably should’ve gotten out of bounds, but he thought he could break loose.
“They didn’t know I had jukes,” Bennett said.
“They told me, ‘How are you so slippery? You’re so big.’ I’m like, ‘I’m Muhammad Ali out here.’ I thought I was going to score on that one.”
“Ali” just needed one more play to deliver the knockout punch.
“I move like a butterfly, and I sting like a bee,” Bennett said. “I like to be the butterfly because sometimes you’ve got to spread your wings.
“You ever try to catch a butterfly with your hands? You can’t do it.”