Jay Cutler #6, left, and Zach Miller #86 of the Chicago Bears celebrate Miller's touchdown during the first quarter of a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Jimmy Clausen threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns, and Zach Miller caught six passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns as the Chicago Bears knocked off the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 34-28 at Soldier Field on Friday night.
The two teams ran their first team offenses onto the field to start the game, but it was the defense on both clubs that stood out early. Nick Foles was picked off on an early pass attempt by Ryan Mundy over the middle of the field, but the Bears couldn’t take advantage as Robbie Gould’s 41-yard field goal attempt on the next drive was blocked by the Eagles to keep things scoreless.
Once the Bears’ offense got onto the field for the second time, they finally started to find their rhythm, with Brandon Marshall making several nice catches and Dante Rosario snaring a 24-yard reception for a first down. Ultimately, the drive concluded with a positive result as Cutler fired a perfect strike over the top of the defense that Miller hauled in for a 10-yard touchdown catch. Gould nailed the extra point, and the Bears held a 7-0 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the first.
Keeping the good vibes going, the Bears’ defense continued to put pressure on Foles, and they eventually forced him into another mistake. With Trevor Scott shedding a block and jumping in front of him, Foles lofted a pass over the middle of the field, and Sherrick McManis picked it off to give the Bears the ball back.
Unfortunately for the Bears, once the first team offense went off the field, they struggled to get much going early in the second quarter. Jordan Palmer made a couple of nice throws to Miller and Josh Morgan for first downs, but after double clutching and allowing the safety to adjust to the play over the top, Palmer threw an interception to end the drive.
With Mark Sanchez on the field, the Eagles started up a drive with two straight long passes to tight end Zach Ertz. After a failed pass on the third play of the drive, the Eagles got on the board when Matthew Tucker drove up the middle of the formation on a rush and dove across the goal line to tie things up at 7-7.
On the Eagles’ next drive, they continued to move the ball with impunity, and once again it was Tucker who made the Bears pay. After burning Shea McClellin on a rush to the left side of the formation, Tucker took it into the end zone a few plays later to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead with about six minutes remaining in the first half.
The Chicago offense finally seemed to snap out of its funk as they got into a groove on the following drive. Miller made several great catches on the drive, and Josh Morgan made a tremendous catch in a 1-on-1 situation along the sideline for a key first down. The drive culminated with Miller getting a free release off a linebacker in the red zone, and despite Palmer throwing to the wrong shoulder, Miller jumped up and grabbed his second touchdown catch of the evening to tie things up at 14-14 with just over a minute remaining in the first half.
In the blink of an eye though, the Eagles took the lead right back. Josh Huff caught the ensuing kick-off in the end zone, and he made his way down the field completely untouched for a 102-yard return touchdown to make it a 21-14 game in favor of the Eagles.
As the second half got started, the Bears’ offense got off to a rough beginning as Jimmy Clausen struggled to find his form, but the defense bailed them out. Khaseem Greene ended up scooping up a fumble, and even though Clausen couldn’t find Micheal Spurlock on a post route in the end zone on the ensuing drive, Gould still drilled home a field goal to cut the Philadelphia lead to 21-17.
The Eagles marched right back down the field under the leadership of Matt Barkley, scoring on a 94-yard touchdown drive. The final play was a perfectly executed screen pass, with David Fluellen finding a couple of blocks and diving across the goal line to give the Eagles an 11-point lead at 28-17.
Not backing down from the challenge, the Bears’ offense threw an excellent counter punch, as Clausen found Chris Williams in stride down the sideline for a lightning-quick 73-yard touchdown strike. The Bears went for two points (the extra point kick has been moved back to the 15-yard line for the first two games of the preseason), and even though they failed to convert they still only trailed by a score of 28-23.
After more special teams struggles, with Michael Ford backing into a punt and allowing the Eagles to get good field position, the Bears’ defense once again stood tall. With a wide receiver tugging on his jersey, Al Louis-Jean picked off an errant pass from Barkley to bring Clausen and company back on the field, and this time, the quarterback didn’t waste any time in getting going.
On a third-and-10 play, Clausen went through his progressions and found Senorise Perry in the flat for a first down. On the very next play, he found Micheal Spurlock for a 20-yard gain, and three plays later the quarterback rushed for a first down of his own. Finally, Clausen capped off the drive by firing a strike to Spurlock at the 10-yard line, and the receiver took care of the rest as he scampered into the end zone. Clausen completed a pass to Rosario for the two-point conversion, and the Bears grabbed a 31-28 lead late in the third quarter.
As the fourth quarter got underway, the Bears used their running game to bleed time off the clock, and Jordan Lynch finally made his way onto the field. On the ensuing eight minute drive, the Bears gained 73 yards and ultimately settled for a field goal, with Gould’s kick sailing through the uprights to give Chicago a 34-28 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
The Bears will head back to Bourbonnais for three more training camp practices, and after camp breaks on Wednesday they will take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night for their second preseason game.