Bears Dominate 1st Half

CHICAGO, IL - There were many positives to take out of the Bears 16-13 overtime win against the Bengals considering the team gave up over two hundred yards rushing. In the first half of Saturday's night game the Bears were able to force a fumble, recover it, convert on a third and long, and score a redzone touchdown, all while running 24 times.

All of these facts contradict what the team did in the 2000 season. Last year the Bears ranked 29th in the league in takeaways had the 25th redzone offense and average 26 total rushing plays per game.

Linebacker Kari Samuel, who started at the weakside for the injured Warrick Holdman, stripped Bengals running back Brandon Bennett, while Rosevelt Colvin was making a tackle. Bryan Robinson recovered the ball at the Cincinnati 25-yard line. The Bears turned the fumble into three points off a Paul Edinger 44-yard field goal.

Shane Matthews started the game at quarterback, but only threw four passes, completing two for three yards. Establishing the running game was the plan of attack. The Bears ran the ball 11 times and had almost 10 minutes of time of possession.

"When you run the ball you put some people in conflict of assignment. That's for sure. And we're sure trying to do that," said offensive coordinator John Shoop.

The commitment to the running game continued into the second quarter where Cade McNown was able to mix-up the run with the passing game. McNown had a solid performance in his preseason action of the year. He went 9-15 for 75-yards with a touchdown. McNown was able to make pinpoint passes throughout the second and third quarters including a 17-yard pass on third down to Dez White, which led to a field goal putting the Bears up 6-0. McNown and White hooked up again later in the quarter for a six-yard touchdown giving the Bears a commanding 13-3 lead.

"I thought Cade (McNown) played well," head coach Dick Jauron. "I thought Cade made a couple of plays. All of them led to scoring drives."

The performance was not perfect as McNown on three separate occasions had his pass batted right back at him. That didn't seem to discourage him as he led two scoring drives in the second quarter.

"I was pleased to see we put together some good drives. We stayed on the field and wore the defense out a little bit and had a couple of scores at the end of those drives," said McNown. "I didn't feel really good about a lot of my passes, but I just got to give credit to the receivers. The guys who had the ball coming to them made a great effort to catch the ball and run with it afterwards."

The Bears had 12 different receivers make at least one catch with Dustin Lyman leading the way with four catches for 64 yards. Rookie David Terrell saw limited action, but did have two catches in traffic.

The Bears struggled to put points up in the second half and the defensive line hit with various injures the Bengals ran for 170 yards in the second half.

Both teams had a chance to win the game in regulation, but mistakes on the same play took the game to sudden death. The Bears were within field goal range with just 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter when Robert Bean intercepted Danny Wuerffel's pass, which was intended for Glyn Milburn. Bean sprinted down the sideline made a move past Wuerffel and was yards away from the endzone when Milburn stripped him of the ball from behind at the Bears nine-yard line and recovered the ball.

With eight seconds left in the quarter Wuerffel took a knee and the game went to overtime. After three successive punts. Then on the Bears second drive of the overtime Paul Edinger missed a game winning 39-yard field goal. The game looked like it was going to be a tie. However, with under a minute to go Wuerffel hooked up on a 31-yard pass play to Dustin Lyman putting the Bears within field goal range at the Bengals 33. Edinger got a second opportunity to win the game and hit a 48-yard field goal with just 41 seconds left in overtime giving the Bears a 16-13 win over the Bengals.

The paid attendance for the game was 66,940, but the actual attendance was only 38,209.

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