A learning experience

The Broncos dominated the Bears in the preseason opener. Chicago struggled in all phases of the game and showed that there is a lot of work to do before the season beings in less than a month.

A Memorial Stadium crowd of 52,168 were not blessed with one of the Bears better efforts as the Broncos scored 27 unanswered points in defeating Chicago 27-3.

Chicago's first team held it's own against Denver's starters as the majority of the regulars were in on about 12 plays.

The home team started off strong. Warrick Holdman sacked Broncos quarterback Brian Griese on the first series of the game. Then on the Bears opening drive the offense did something they couldn't do all last season. Jim Miller converted a third and 11 with a completion to Marty Booker. Although, no points came of the possession it was a step in the right direction.

On the Bears second possession Leon Johnson broke down the sideline for a 35-yard punt return giving the Bears the ball in Denver territory. However, the Bears were unable to capitalize on the field position and went three and out.

In two series Miller completed four of six passes for 17 yards.

Brian Urlacher made his presence felt on back-to-back plays. First he blindside running back Olandis Gary for no gain. Then on the following play the middle linebacker blitzed QB Brian Griese hitting him from behind causing a fumble, which Urlacher also recovered.

Urlacher still has a bit of modesty left when talking about his play.

"It was right in front of me," Urlacher said. "The DB's did a good job of covering made him (Griese) pull it (the ball) down gave me a chance to get there. I just happened to jump on it. I just got lucky I guess."

Despite starting in Denver territory (14-yard line) for a second consecutive drive Chicago had to settle for a field goal. The offense went three and out under the leadership of Chris Chandler. The result was a 36-yard from Paul Edinger giving Chicago a 3-0 lead with 2:14 left in first quarter.

The remainder of the game belonged to the Broncos. Chicago went no where offensively; in fact they went backwards with minus nine yards of total offense in the first half. The Bears allowed three sacks, had two turnovers and five penalties in quarters one and two.

A lot of the ineffectiveness can be contributed to the Bears inexperience in the second and third string.

"We anticipated playing lots and lots of young guys," said Bears head coach Dick Jauron. "I thought some of unequipped themselves well and some of them didn't. That'll go down in the books they'll have an uphill battle."

The game began to turn when Denver pulled Griese in favor of Steve Beuerlein and went to the ground to move the ball. The key play to the Broncos getting on the board was Reggie Austin's facemask penalty following an eight-yard run by Denver rookie running back Clinton Portis, which turned the play into a 23-yard gain after the personal foul was assessed. The result of the play gave Denver the ball inside the Chicago 20. Tight end Dwayne Carswell beat rookie Bobby Gray for a five-yard TD catch. The seven play 44-yard drive gave Denver a 7-3 cushion with 8:32 left in the half.

A 49-yard run back by Rabih Abdullah on the following kickoff gave Chicago the ball at midfield and an opportunity to take back the lead. However, backup quarterback Chris Chandler was sacked by Tyrone Poole and lost the ball. Denver DE Keith Washington recovered the bouncing ball all the way back at the Bears 29.

The Broncos looked to be moving toward another score before an illegal block slowed their progress. Denver settled for a 49-yard field goal by Jason Elam.

Bears third quarterback Henry Burris replaced Chandler on the ensuing drive. Still, the result was the same. Burris fumbled after being hit from behind by DE Kavika Pittman, who beat Rookie Marc Colombo for the sack.

Denver recovered on the Bears 33 and added another Elam field goal four plays later. This time he hit from 45 yards out giving the visitors a 13-3 lead, which they took to the lockerroom.

Burris continued to struggle throughout the second half. The second year quarterback looked out of sorts as he was picked off on the consecutive drives. Burris completed 6 of 19 passes for 49 yards.

"I didn't think Henry played particularly well," Jauron said. "I will say this he is very young. He's got to be a little more careful with our football. He can't be reckless with it. He's got to take what's given to him and see down the field."

Not all the blame can be placed on Burris. The offensive didn't do a good job of pass protecting as the unit allowed five sacks.

Denver added to their lead following Burris' second interception toward the end of the third quarter. Cornerback Jimmy Spencer picked off a pass deep inside Bears territory and returned to the five-yard line. Four plays later former Bear Tony Carter punched the ball in from the one-yard line putting Denver up 20-3.

The Broncos added a late touchdown when third string QB Jarious Jackson ran it in from three yards out to cap off the route 27-3.

The Bears offense totaled just 44 yards and six first downs, while Denver had 188 yards rushing and 322 in total.

"It wasn't exactly what we were looking for, but it's the preseason," Jauron said. "We anticipated playing a lot of young guys. We have to look at them and we'll look at them all. We'll look at them individually. Just from the sideline you can't see it all. All in all it was definitely a long night, but we got through it."

Although, the Bears came out flat remember Chicago was 1-3 during the 2001 preseason, but went to a 13-3 regular season record and a division title.


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