GLENDALE, Ariz. – Solid performances by their No. 1 offense and defense plus an electrifying special teams play powered the Bears to a 24-23 preseason win over the Cardinals Saturday night.
After failing to score while committing two turnovers in the preseason opener against the Broncos, the first-team offense produced a touchdown and field goal on five first-half drives in Arizona.
“Coming off Week 1 versus Denver we felt like we needed to make strides,” said coach John Fox. “We challenged our whole first team—offense in particular—and I thought they responded well.”
Starting quarterback Mike Glennon made a costly mistake for the second straight game. But this time the fifth-year pro rebounded from the miscue to engineer an impressive touchdown drive.
The Bears were in position to increase their 3-0 lead early in the second quarter. But on second-and-10 from the Cardinals’ 11, Glennon’s pass intended for receiver Kendall Wright on an out pattern was intercepted by safety Tyrann Mathieu, who returned it 52 yards to the Chicago 43.
But Glennon redeemed himself by beating an all-out blitz with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Wright, capping a six-play, 44-yard drive and giving the Bears a 10-7 lead they would not relinquish with :36 left in the half. Glennon completed 4 of 5 passes for 36 yards on the possession.
“You just have to respond,” Glennon said. “It’s one of those situations where interceptions are going to happen. We want to limit that as much as possible, but it’s how you respond and I felt like the offense did a good job of that today.”
Playing the entire first half, Glennon completed 13 of 18 passes for 89 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a 73.6 passer rating. It was a marked improvement over his debut against the Broncos when he threw an interception that was returned for a TD and posted a 0.0 rating.
“I thought it was a big improvement,” Fox said. “We had a very limited look in Week 1 like most first offenses in this league. Some starting quarterbacks don’t even play in Week 1. I thought the whole offense responded, including Mike.”
After veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez played one series, first-round pick Mitch Trubisky entered the game with 2:04 left in the third quarter. The rookie was efficient in completing 6 of 8 passes for 60 yards with one touchdown and a 135.4 passer rating on four possessions.
Trubisky’s 6-yard TD pass to Benny Cunningham gave the Bears a seemingly safe 24-14 lead with 1:55 remaining before a furious Cardinals comeback fell one play short.
Asked about his performance, Trubisky said: “I would assess it as all right. We moved the ball down the field a little bit. Would like to convert a couple more third downs, especially the early on drives. But we finished in the end zone, which is a positive, and we came away with a ‘W.’”
A Bears win seemed like a foregone conclusion late. But the Cardinals drew to within 24-17 on Phil Dawson’s 52-yard field goal with 1:20 to play and then recovered an onside kick at the Chicago 35.
Blaine Gabbert eventually hit Jeremy Ross with a 3-yard TD pass to make it 24-23 with :09 remaining. Looking to avoid overtime, the Cardinals attempted a two-point conversion. But Gabbert’s pass intended for Ross was behind him, enabling the Bears to escape with the victory.
Rookie running back Tarik Cohen was the story early. Starting in place of Jordan Howard—who remained in Chicago after suffering a minor eye injury in a walkthrough Saturday—Cohen rushed for 72 yards on nine carries in the first quarter, finishing the game with 77 yards on 11 attempts.
The Bears defense played well in the first half, allowing just one touchdown on five possessions—and that came after the Cardinals took over at the Chicago 43 following Glennon’s interception.
Carson Palmer’s 1-yard TD pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham on fourth-and-goal gave Arizona a 7-3 lead with 6:04 left in the half. On the previous play, defensive end Jonathan Bullard stopped running back Chris Johnson for no gain on third-and-goal from the 1.
The Bears scored two touchdowns in the final :36 of the first half to take a 17-7 lead. After Wright’s TD, Deonte Thompson returned Phil Dawson’s 63-yard field goal attempt 109 yards for a touchdown. Thompson broke a tackle at his own 6, bounced outside and picked up key blocks from Ka’Deem Carey and Adrian Amos.
The Cardinals opened the second half with a 12-play, 75-yard drive capped by Gabbert’s 4-yard TD scramble that closed the gap to 17-14.
But the Bears defense responded as end Roy Robertson-Harris registered sacks on back-to-back plays and cornerback B.W. Webb intercepted a Gabbert pass by wrestling the ball away from receiver Chris Hubert at the Cardinals’ 38 with 4:22 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Webb’s interception—the Bears’ first and so far only takeaway in two preseason games—set up Trubisky’s TD pass to Cunningham.