CINCINNATI – In brief preseason debuts Thursday night, the Bears' starting offense and defense both left room for improvement in a 30-27 loss to the Bengals.
After sitting out last week's Hall of Fame Game, the No. 1 offense was held to minus-one yard on eight plays on two drives, while the first-team defense yielded two touchdowns on three possessions before exiting.
But with three preseason games remaining, coach Matt Nagy wasn't ready to sound any alarms following Thursday night's contest at Paul Brown Stadium.
"It was choppy, but that's OK," Nagy said. "That's all right. We're building this thing and with that first group there, on really both sides of the ball, I'm not going to be too hard on them just because of where we're at."
In fairness to the offense, receivers Allen Robinson II and Taylor Gabriel and running back Jordan Howard did not play, while running back Tarik Cohen made a brief appearance but did not touch the ball.
"I thought offensively it seemed like maybe there was one guy maybe there was one guy on every play that had an error, and they learn from that," Nagy said, "You get to see that you need 11 people making the right assignment, and they'll grow from that."
Playing only eight snaps, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky completed 2 of 4 passes for four yards and was sacked once.
"I thought with Mitch nothing extraordinary but nothing bad," Nagy said.
"This is so early right now, it really is. It's early for him. It'll be fun as we go here to get him more snaps, let him get into a rhythm and really for all of the guys to get into a rhythm offensively. He's going to have eight snaps to take a look at and see what was right and what was wrong, but it's hard to judge off eight plays."
Cornerback Kyle Fuller provided a highlight for the No. 1 defense, intercepting an Andy Dalton pass and returning it 47 yards for a touchdown. But Fuller's pick-six was sandwiched by Cincinnati TD drives of 64 and 75 yards.
The Bears tied the game 14-14 on Taquan Mizzell's 1-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. The score capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive that was highlighted by Adam Shaheen's three receptions for 53 yards.
The Bengals followed with field goals of 28, 24 and 29 yards on their final three possessions of the first half to take a 23-14 lead. The first kick came on a drive that was sustained by Clayton Fejedelem's 49-yard run on a fake punt.
The Bears opened the second half by scoring 13 unanswered points. Cody Parkey closed the gap to 23-20 with field goals of 39 and 35 yards, the second coming after rookie running back Ryan Nall's 69-yard dash around right end.
Bears backup quarterback Chase Daniel was replaced by Tyler Bray at the start of the second half after completing 8 of 12 passes for 76 yards with one interception and a 49.3 passer rating.
The Bears took their first lead of the night, 27-23, on Demarcus Ayers' 3-yard touchdown run on an end around with 9:26 left in the fourth quarter. The TD was set up by tight end Daniel Brown's 56-yard reception from Tyler Bray.
"The message really to the guys in the second half was, ‘Hey, let's go out and show a little more effort out here and get after it,' and I thought we did that," Nagy said. "The second half we came back and fought a little bit. It was a little bit of a tale of two halves for our guys."
The Bears could not hold onto the lead, however, as Jeff Driskel threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to receiver Auden Tate with 2:04 remaining in the fourth quarter, lifting the Bengals to a 30-27 win.
The Bears had a chance to tie, but Parkey missed a 52-yard field goal attempt with :45 left in regulation.