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Bears rally late to edge Jaguars

Posted Aug 14, 2014

Jay Cutler played well and the Bears rallied for an improbable win Thursday night. But areas of concern also cropped up throughout their 20-19 preseason victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Soldier Field.

Jay Cutler played well for the second straight week and the Bears rallied late for an improbable win over the Jacksonville Jaguars behind a band of inspired reserves fighting for jobs.

But areas of concern also cropped up during Thursday night's 20-19 preseason victory at Soldier Field—most notably a No. 1 defense that allowed the Jaguars to score on their first three possessions and a costly turnover on special teams that led to a Jacksonville touchdown.

The Jaguars dominated the first quarter, outscoring the Bears 13-0 and outgaining them in total yards 134-8. After Josh Scobee field goals of 49 and 25 yards made it 6-0, Will Blackmon stripped Eric Weems on a kickoff return and recovered the fumble at the Chicago 23.

The Jaguars converted the turnover into a 6-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne to rookie receiver Marqise Lee, increasing their lead to 13-0 late in the first quarter.

Henne, who ranked 31st in the NFL with a 76.5 passer rating last season, completed 12 of 17 passes for 130 yards with one TD and a 112.4 rating before exiting late in the first half.

With the Bears going three-and-out on their first possession and turning the ball over on a kickoff return, the Jaguars ran 26 of the game's first 29 plays.

On Chicago's second possession—which began with :48 remaining in the first quarter—Cutler engineered a 10-play, 85-yard drive capped by a 4-yard touchdown strike to Brandon Marshall.

"It was different," Cutler said of the long wait between series. "Three-and-out, and then to get back on the field with [48] seconds to go [in the first quarter], some games are like that. You never know how it's going to turn out. We overcame a couple third downs in the second quarter and got a little rhythm going, so that was good."

Cutler completed 5 of 6 passes for 67 yards on the touchdown drive, which was highlighted by a 25-yard reception by Martellus Bennett over the middle on third-and-10.

Facing third-and-goal from the 4, Cutler stepped up in the pocket and rifled the ball to Marshall in the back of the end zone, drawing the Bears to within 13-7. The veteran quarterback received excellent protection from the offensive line on the entire drive.

"It starts with the offensive line, because there was tremendous protection," said coach Marc Trestman. "He had a long time to sit in there. He was very comfortable. You don't get that much time normally. The line did a great job and it allowed Martellus to get open.

"The touchdown pass, really the same thing. The buzzer had gone off and again Jay moved in the pocket, but he still felt comfortable to stay in and allow Brandon to get open. I think we felt good again, two weeks in a row, where we are protection-wise."

After Cutler exited following the TD, the Bears offense sputtered with quarterback Jimmy Clausen leading five drives that resulted in four punts and an interception. The Jaguars, meanwhile, added a pair of field goals to widen their margin to 19-7.

But just when it appeared the Bears had little chance of improving their preseason record to 2-0, they scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns on Ka'Deem Carey's 1-yard run with 7:55 to play and Senorise Perry's 5-yard dash up the middle with just :50 remaining.

Quarterback Jordan Palmer led the two scoring drives, completing 6 of 9 passes for 73 yards and a 91.4 passer rating in the fourth quarter.

"They played with a sense of urgency," Trestman said. "They overcame a lot of adversity throughout the game. The penalties, turnovers; a lot of bad things happened to the Bears tonight and they were able play-by-play to overcome it."

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