The Bears probably will not be able to enjoy a victorious trip to Dallas next week if they turn the ball over four times, as they did in a sloppy 19-14 victory over the Lions in the season opener.
Quarterback Jay Cutler was intercepted once and lost a fumble on one of the four times he was sacked. He also threw a pair of TD passes to running back Matt Forte, but Forte also lost a fumble, as did tight end Greg Olsen.
"It's a turnover game, and the turnover ratio is always big on who wins the game," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "That hurt us quite a bit early on. But I saw Jay make play after play distributing the ball around."
Cutler threw for 372 yards with a passer rating of 108.3 and the Bears rolled up 463 yards of total offense, but they scored just two touchdowns. More often than not, it was the Bears who stopped themselves on offense.
"It was the turnovers, and I think all the guys in the huddle knew it," Cutler said. "We're on the verge of becoming a very good offense. We've just got to clean some things up."
Both of the Lions' touchdowns were the result of Bears turnovers, the first one after Cutler's interception and the second after Forte's fumble.
Forte had a spectacular game with 201 total yards from scrimmage, including seven receptions for 151 yards, but he knows the turnovers will be too much to overcome if they continue.
"When you turn the ball over like that it's hard to win games, and we got lucky today," Forte said. "We've got to control the ball, control the clock and have minimal turnovers. Actually, none at all."
S Danieal Manning
Rookie Major Wright got some playing time at free safety at the expense of Chris Harris, while strong safety Danieal Manning played the entire game. Wright got his first snaps during the Lions' third possession, and he was also on the field for the game's final possession.
"The plan was to rotate the guys," Smith said. "We feel good about all three of our safeties."
Wright probably would already be a starter, but he suffered a fractured finger in the preseason opener that necessitated the insertion of a surgical pin. Wright wasn't cleared for contact until the week before the regular-season opener. The Bears have been impressed by his range in pass defense and his willingness to hit and support against the run.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Bears defense allowed just 168 total yards against the Lions, the fewest yards they have permitted since Oct. 8, 2006, when they held the Bills to 145. Prior to the Lions' last-ditch scoring effort on their final possession, the Bears had permitted just 110 yards on the eight possessions before that drive, the Lions went three-plays-and-punt five times and turned the ball over on the other three possessions. The leaders of the defense were linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, who combined for a press-box total of 19 tackles. Urlacher had three tackles for loss, while Briggs forced and recovered a fumble.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Cutler completed 23 of32 passes for 372 yards, and wasn't concerned about the controversial ending. "A win's a win," he said. "We're going to take it any way we can get it." ...
Forte's 201 yards from scrimmage was the most by a Bears player since Neal Anderson's 209 against Green Bay in 1989. Forte had 151 receiving yards, the second-most ever by a Bears running back. "I felt better than my rookie year," Forte said. "I just feel really healthy. I thank God that I'm able to feel that healthy and go out there and play." ...
Briggs had a strip-sack of Lions QB Shaun Hill in the fourth quarter that gave the Bears the ball at Detroit's 1-yard line. "Lance is a Pro Bowl player," said Smith. "He plays like that always. My seven years here, I've seen him make play-after-play like that. That was a big play in the game."
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