The Chicago Bears trailed the San Francisco 49'ers 17-0 early, but thanks to three touchdown catches by Brandon Marshall and two interceptions from Kyle Fuller, they picked up a stunning 28-20 victory on Sunday night.
Jay Cutler threw for 176 yards and four touchdowns in the game and Alshon Jeffery had three catches for 47 yards in the contest. The Bears didn't turn the ball over a single time as they picked up an improbable road victory over the heavily-favored 49'ers.
The Bears got the ball first to start the game, and even with a poor return by Senorise Perry, they were pinned even further back thanks to a penalty by Shaun Draughn. After a three-and-out drive, Perry missed a block on the edge, and Pat O’Donnell’s punt was blocked. The 49’ers capitalized in short order on their ensuing drive from the red zone, as Colin Kaepernick’s pass to Michael Crabtree made it a 7-0 game just three minutes into the contest.
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After another failed Bears drive, the 49’ers got back on offense and took advantage of a slew of Chicago penalties to move down the field. Kyle Fuller’s holding penalty, coupled with Willie Young’s offside infraction, ended up giving San Francisco a first down, and Vernon Davis picked up another one a few plays later. Finally though, the Bears were able to calm things down (including an excellent Shea McClellin play to keep contain on a Kaepernick read-option), and after a field goal San Francisco’s lead was extended to 10-0.
The Bears looked to have a first down on their next drive, but Martellus Bennett’s catch was overruled after Jim Harbaugh challenged the call on the field. The 49’ers couldn’t cash in however as Jeremiah Ratliff made a key stop on third and short, and San Francisco had to kick the ball right back.
The next 49’ers drive came to an abrupt halt after Chris Conte picked up an athletic interception for the second week in a row. After Kaepernick locked onto his receiver in the seam, Conte undercut the route and made a diving pick to give the Bears the ball back. Once again though, receivers failed to get open downfield, and a three-and-out was the result for Chicago as the offense sputtered again.
As had been the case on so many drives before, the Bears’ offense went three and out, and the 49’ers very nearly extended their lead. Frank Gore ran for a huge touchdown, but a penalty on Anquan Boldin wiped it out. A few plays later, the Bears’ defense stepped up again, with Jared Allen punching the ball loose from Kaepernick and Danny McCray recovering it.
Once again though, the Bears’ offense struggled, with Brian de la Puente causing a fumble as he snapped the ball to Cutler before he was ready. The third down pass to Alshon Jeffery was incomplete, and after a decent boot from O’Donnell, the 49’ers still had decent field position. In the red zone, the 49’ers picked up a touchdown as Jon Bostic jumped out of his gap, and Gore coasted into the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown run to make it a 17-0 game.
The Bears got the ball back at the two minute warning, and immediately got a great play out of Cutler, who ran for a long first down scamper to get the ball into San Francisco territory. Quinton Dial then was flagged a few plays later for spearing Cutler with a shot to the sternum, and despite the hit, Cutler stayed in the game.
A few plays later, Cutler and Brandon Marshall hooked up for one of their patented spectacular touchdowns. Cutler delivered a perfect high pass to the end zone, and not only did Marshall go up to make the grab, but he did so one-handed, and when he completed the process, the Bears found themselves down just 17-7 as the half came to an end.
The third quarter saw only two drives with both teams going on prolonged trips up the field. The 49’ers began the quarter with a lengthy drive of their own, but the Bears ended up holding them to just a field goal. A stellar play by Willie Young ended the drive as he got a free release around the edge and tackled Gore on a third down play, but another San Francisco field goal made it a 20-7 game.
The Bears responded to that drive beautifully, engineering a lengthy scoring drive of their own. A couple of 49’ers penalties advanced them down the field, and then Cutler found Marshall and Dante Rosario for first downs. In the early stages of the fourth quarter, the Bears finally cashed in on the efficient work by the offense, as Marshall created separation at the goal line and snared his second touchdown pass of the day to make it a 20-14 game.
As the 49’ers got going on offense again, the Bears’ defense once again took control of the contest. On an outside pass pattern to Michael Crabtree, Kyle Fuller got inside position and somehow pried the ball loose for the interception. After Fuller was tackled at the six-yard line (and the ball moving to the three following a Kaepernick inappropriate language penalty), the Bears scored on their first play from scrimmage as Bennett got a free release in the corner and snagged a great pass from Cutler. When Robbie Gould kicked the ball through the uprights, the Bears took a 21-20 lead.
On the next San Francisco drive, the Bears’ pass rush came on full force. Lance Briggs made a couple of key plays, and then Shea McClellin and Allen combined to sack Kaepernick. A few plays later, Fuller read another pass perfectly from behind and jumped up to snare his second interception of the game, and just like that the Bears were given a chance to extend their lead.
Alshon Jeffery made a key catch for a first down in the red zone, and just a few moments later, Marshall once again won a physical battle at the goal line, got open, and grabbed a touchdown to put the Bears up by eight points with just seven minutes remaining in the game.
The 49’ers weren’t ready to concede defeat after the double-whammy however, and they slowly moved their way down the field. Kaepernick scampered for a first down after both Allen and Brock Vereen missed sack attempts, and then a penalty on Ryan Mundy gave them another one.
The Bears finally stood tall at the end however, with Willie Young and Fuller each making plays to slow down San Francisco. On a fourth down play with about a minute remaining, the Bears watched as Crabtree got his hands on the ball, but he couldn’t come up with a pass, and San Francisco turned over the ball for the final time.
The victory could be a tough one to swallow for the Bears, with injuries to Charles Tillman and Jeremiah Ratliff weighing heavily on their minds. Despite those losses though, the Bears are 1-1, joining the rest of the division at that mark, and they’ll have momentum heading into next week’s game against the New York Jets on Monday.