Noots' Notes

The Bears overcame an abysmal first half performance from quarterback Chad Hutchinson to beat the Bills 16-12 in their first home preseason game. They were led by a strong running game (24 carries for 143 yards) and a ferocious defense. The game's momentum turned on one huge drive by Kyle Orton. They took the lead for the one and only time at the end of the game.

The Bears' defensive front seven was dominating. Adewale Ogunleye (5 tackles, sack) had numerous pressures and a sack which was aided by Tommie Harris' push up the middle. He has already collected four sacks in the preseason. Linebackers Lance Briggs (6 tackles, FF, 2 TFL), Brian Urlacher (4 tackles, TFL, PD), and Hunter Hillenmeyer (4 tackles, sack) continuously stuffed Buffalo's Willis McGahee at or behind the line of scrimmage. Hillenmeyer dropped quarterback J.P. Losman for a 20-yard loss on a second down and goal at the Bears' three-yard line to reduce a potential touchdown opportunity to a field goal attempt. Cornerback Nathan Vasher made a sure tackles on McGahee on a pitch around end for a big loss and another on a swing pass. Briggs forced a fumble and Charles Tillman returned it 43 yards. Safeties Mike Green (7 tackles) and Todd Johnson (3 tackles) were also very active and their plays near the line helped to limit the Bills to 78 rushing yards on 31 carries.

Kyle Orton (7-11-74, TD) started the second half with the first string offense still in the game. On his second possession, he directed a twelve play, 79-yard touchdown drive, rifling passes all over the field. Orton's timing was exceptional. It was surpassed by his poise. He stood in the face of a blitz to fire a 19-yard strike to Justin Gage for a key third down conversion. Orton shrugged off seeing Muhsin Muhammad let a sure touchdown pass go through his hands to fire a strike to Bobby Wade (2-33) on a slant to the Bills' 3-yard line. He capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Desmond Clark (really, the tight end caught a touchdown pass). Thomas Jones (14/94, 1-3) broke off a 40-yard run on a third and short play for one of the few highlights of the first half. He was the Bears' only offense while Hutchinson was at quarterback.

Among the backups, linebacker LeVar Woods (4 tackles) turned in a strong performance. He showed good range and intelligence, sniffing out a draw play. Leon Joe is showing steady improvement. Cornerback Rashied Davis is a catalyst returning punts (2 for 29 yards) and a sure tackler in the secondary. Adrian Peterson (10/49, TD, FF) scored the go-ahead touchdown at the end of the game. The key play on the touchdown drive was a 22-yard Peterson run over the right side. Left guard Steve Edwards pulled and cleared a huge hole to lead the way. Peterson also was a very active special teams tackler, forcing a fumble that the Bills recovered. Mark Bradley (2-27) made a few more catches. He's going to be difficult to keep off the field when the regular season starts.

The Bad

There were far too many mental mistakes. Ruben Brown completely missed a blitzing linebacker who ran past him for a sack. Olin Kreutz is in mid season form, committing another illegal snap infraction. Special teams were peppered with penalties. Todd McMillon held twice, while Joe Odom, Charles Tillman, LeVar Woods and Hunter Hillenmeyer contributed to the yellow laundry list. Several passes were dropped. Thomas Jones dropped a slant pass that resulted in one of Hutchinson's interceptions. Justin Gage dropped a pass deep in the seam that would have converted a third and eleven situation. Muhsin Muhammad dropped a sure touchdown pass, and failed to come up with a pump and go up the right sideline from Orton. Adrian Peterson missed one of his only pass blocking assignments of the preseason on a blitz pickup that resulted in a sack of Jeff Blake.

The Ugly

After two ugly three and out possessions, Chad Hutchinson (3-14-33, 2 Int.) improved on the ugliness by throwing an interception for a touchdown to Nate Clements. He was criticized for patting the ball before throwing it after last week's game. Hutchinson did it again on this play, which was a quick pass on a three-step drop. That's a ready-made disaster if a cornerback is looking to jump a route. He was sacked three times, two were his fault. On one of them, he held the ball too long. On the other, he never looked to the receivers he had on the left side of the field. He just locked in on one receiver. When he saw his primary receiver was covered, he pulled the ball down and reloaded but kept his focus on the same player, hoping he would have time to get open again, instead of looking elsewhere.

Next Up

The Bears have one more game (Thursday against Cleveland) to sort through the remaining positional battles and final rosters spots. Kyle Orton's performances, along with Chad Hutchinson's miscues, are going to make it very difficult for Coach Lovie Smith to start anyone else at quarterback.


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