Denver stopped themselves more than the Bears defense did anything to slow their attack. The Broncos committed seven false start penalties in the first half alone. Jake Plummer threw an interception after moving the ball deep into Bears territory.
The bend, don’t break style of defense worked in the sense that Denver only managed a field goal, but that’s fools gold to head coach Dick Jauron
"The good news is we got them in a lot of long yardage situations," Jauron said.
On the other hand with Plummer at the helm, Denver converted four of six three downs including a 3rd and 16 attempt.
Denver worked extensively on R.W. McQuarters. The defense was playing soft coverage, but on the opening drive has was beaten three times for gains of 8, 15 and 21 yards. McQuarters also drew a flag for an illegal use of hands penalty.
"That type of stuff don’t bother me," McQuarters said. "I don’t want them to catch anything, but if anything don’t give up the deep pass and don’t give up the touchdown."
The starting cornerback tandem was the first to be taken out. Charles Tillman and Roe Williams replaced McQuarters and Jerry Azumah in the second quarter, but according to Jauron the poor play didn’t go into the decision.
"We needed to see a lot of Roe and a lot of Charles," Jauron said.
Kordell Stewart played two series and had mixed results. The quarterback completed 3-8 passes for 38 yards, but was able to scramble twice for 18 yards and led the offense to a field goal.
The running game behind Stewart never got on track. Anthony Thomas returned to the field for the first time since December 1st of last year. He averaged just 2.4 yards per carry on six attempts. His most impressive run of the night came when the whole was filled and he cut to the outside for a six-yard gain.
"I though he made some good runs early, one particular where he went for about five yards when it didn’t look like it was there at all," Jauron said.
The teams played at a 3-3 score at the half due in large part to the play of Lance Briggs. Starting at strong-side linebacker in place of Bryan Knight, Briggs had a spectacular game for Chicago while playing in all four quarters. In addition to leading the team with 10 tackles, including a sack, the third-round draft pick from Arizona blocked a 26-yard field goal attempt by Denver kicker Jason Elam in the second quarter.
"We’ve said all along that this guy has a tremendous fell for the game and has the potential to be a playmaker," said Jauron. "We saw a little bit in the first exhibition and we’ve saw more of it tonight so there are a lot of positives with Lance on the field."
With Rex Grossman under center the Bears took a 10-3 lead. The rookie quarterback led the offense on a seven-play drive that culminated with a one-yard touchdown plunge by Adrian Peterson. The score was set up by two completions of 28 and 29 yards to Edell Shepherd. The receiver had to make an adjustment on an under thrown ball on the second catch.
Despite leading a game-winning drive in his first appearance as a pro, Grossman said he felt more at ease on the field against Denver. The rookie finished the night 6-9 for 89 yards.
"Tonight I anticipated things and reacted," Grossman said. "I did feel more comfortable and we got some drives going tonight."
A booming 62-yard punt by Brook Barnard pinned Denver inside the ten-yard line. Steve Beuerlein put together an 11-play 93-yard drive that carried into the fourth quarter and cut the lead to 10-9.
The Bears had forced the Broncos to settle for a field goal, but two penalties on the conversion allowed Denver to take the points off the board and continue the drive.
Trying to avoid overtime, the Broncos went for a two-point conversion and failed.
The score remained 10-9 into the last minute of the game. The Bears had Denver in a 4th and 3 situation near midfield, but third string quarterback Julius Jackson threaded the needle to WR Frank Rice for a 36-yard gain. Two plays later Jackson sneaked into the endzone giving Denver a 15-10 lead with just 21 seconds left.
A final hailmarry from Cory Sauter fell incomplete dropping the Bears preseason record to 1-1.
"We always want to win we just didn’t get it tonight," Jauron said. "We’ll go back, we have a lot of work ahead of us but we have a lot of guys who aren’t afraid to work."