Matt Spaeth comes up big in a tight spot
by Mark Potash email@example.com November 7, 2011 11:12PM
Tight end Matt Spaeth is congratulated by Kellen Davis after his five-yard touchdown catch on the Bears’ opening drive. | Michael Perez~AP
Updated: December 9, 2011 8:23AM
PHILADELPHIA — The tight end is primarily a blocker in Mike Martz’s offense, but he comes in handy as a receiver near the goal line.
The Bears scored on their opening possession against the Eagles on Monday night when Jay Cutler threw a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt Spaeth . It was Spaeth’s second touchdown of the season, but his first since a one-yarder in the opener against the Falcons. He came into the game with three receptions for 15 yards.
The Bears went the traditional route inside the 5 for their second touchdown — Marion Barber scored on a two-yard run to give the Bears a 17-10 lead with 48 seconds left in the first half. The Bears came into the game with only five touchdowns inside the 10 this season. Only the Rams and Jaguars had fewer touchdowns inside the 10.
Return of Bennett
Wide receiver Earl Bennett made an immediate impact in his first game since suffering a chest bruise against the Saints in Week 2. On third-and-seven from the Eagles’ 31 — the Bears’ first third-down play of the game — Bennett caught a 14-yard pass for a first down. They scored five plays later.
Bennett was called for pushing off on Asante Samuel, negating an 11-yard gain on third-and-six in the second quarter. But on the next play, Cutler hit Bennett for a 26-yard gain, with Bennett bulling his way to 10 yards after the catch.
The Wright stuff
Like Bennett, safety Major Wright also atoned for a penalty with a big play. Wright was called for pass interference against tight end Brent Celek on a third-and-four play in the second quarter — a borderline call that drew a flag.
But four plays later, Wright intercepted a Michael Vick pass that had been deflected by line backer Lance Briggs. That led to Robbie Gould’s 51-yard field goal that gave the Bears a 10-0 lead.
Going the distance
The Bears’ 12-play, 79-yard drive to open the game was their seventh touchdown drive of 79 yards or longer this season. They had four drives of 79 yards or longer in the entire regular season last year.
Matt Forte fumbled trying to get first-down yardage on a third-and-seven play and rookie linebacker Brian Rolle recovered and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown that tied the game at 10 with 1:48 left in the first half. It was Forte’s first fumble this season (175 touches: 136 rushes, 39 receptions.)
Two missed opportunities put the Bears in the third-down: Cutler underthrew an open Devin Hester on a deep ball at the Eagles 35; and Dane Sanzenbacher dropped a short pass near the sideline.
Lovie Smith has been full of surprises and Monday night was no exception: defensive tackle Anthony Adams was inactive.
Adams had lost his starting spot to Matt Toeaina to begin the season. Adams was the starter the past two games while Toeaina was out with a sprained knee, but he has been noticeably ineffective through the first seven games of the season.
The return of Toeaina and the increased playing time given to rookie Stephen Paea were factors in the decision to make Adams inactive.