The Chicago Bears didn't hold a lead through the first 59 minutes and 10 seconds of Thursday night's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but thanks to a Senorise Perry touchdown run with 50 seconds left, they escaped Soldier Field with a 20-19 victory on Thursday night.
Jay Cutler threw for 75 yards and a touchdown in the game, while Ka'Deem Carey also ran for a fourth quarter touchdown to aid the comeback. Blake Bortles had an excellent evening for the Jaguars, going 11-for-17 for 160 yards and a 95.2 rating in the contest.
The game didn’t exactly get off to the best of starts for the Bears, as cornerback Kyle Fuller injured his ankle on the opening kickoff. After briefly being examined on the sidelines, the first round draft pick walked off the field and into the locker room under his own power, and he was ruled out for the remainder of the contest.
With Fuller off the field, the Bears struggled to slow down the Jaguars as they marched down the field with Chad Henne under center. He hit a couple of quick passes over the middle as he exploited a soft spot in the Bears’ defense, and Toby Gerhart did some good work as well as he took advantage of the overpursuit of linebackers Lance Briggs and DJ Williams.
Ultimately, the Jaguars were held to a Josh Scobee field goal, with Jon Bostic and Shea McClellin making a couple of good stops against the run to limit the damage.
After a three and out by the Bears’ offense on their first drive of the game, the Jaguars once again moved down the field quickly. Once again though, it was the Bears’ defense that finally stopped the bleeding, with Bostic and Charles Tillman each making open field tackles to stop the drive in its tracks. Scobee once again was able to boot the ball through the uprights, giving Jacksonville a 6-0 lead with about five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Bears’ offense didn’t get a chance to get back on the field after that drive however, as Eric Weems fumbled the kickoff and gave the Jaguars some great field position. The Bears did get two sacks on defense in the next three plays, but the second one, a Trevor Scott takedown on a great piece of pass rushing, was overturned because the officials whistled an illegal contact penalty on Kelvin Hayden. A few plays later, Henne found Marqise Lee for a touchdown to make it a 13-0 game with less than a minute to go in the quarter.
As the second quarter got underway, the Bears’ offense began to churn just like it did on their second drive against the Philadelphia Eagles last week. They did have a bit of a scare when Alshon Jeffery was drilled on a dirty hit by Winston Guy, but the result of the drive ended up being a positive one. With some great pass protection thanks to Jermon Bushrod on the left side of the line, Cutler eventually found his favorite target over the middle, as Brandon Marshall hauled in a pass at the back of the end zone to cut the Jaguar lead to 13-7.
After Scott made two more plays in a row to force a punt by the Jaguars, Jimmy Clausen came into the game to get some work in with the first team offensive line. He audibled into runs on the first two plays of the drive, with Shaun Draughn picking up a couple of quick first downs. Unfortunately for the Bears, their drive ended up being stymied by a slew of penalty flags, with illegal hands to the face and a crackback block ultimately derailing the drive without any points going up on the board for the Bears.
In the late stages of the second quarter, the Bears ended up surrendering one more field goal to Scobee to make it 16-7 Jacksonville. Bears defensive tackle Will Sutton was limping around after several plays on that last sequence, and tight end Zach Miller was also carted off the field in those waning moments.
The Bears got the ball to begin the second half, and Clausen picked up where he had left off as he once again made adjustments at the line and allowed the offense to get churning. Unfortunately, he tried to get a bit too aggressive on a throw over the middle, and after Telvin Smith tipped the ball up Josh Evans made the interception to give the Jaguars the ball back.
Blake Bortles and the Jaguars made a couple of good throws to move down the field, but once again the Bears’ defense was able to stop them short of the goal line as Sherrick McManis made a great read and knocked down a third down pass to force yet another field goal. Scobee calmly booted it up and through once again, and the Jaguars extended their lead to 19-7.
As the third quarter went on, the Bears still couldn’t quite figure out the Jacksonville defense, and a couple of poor plays by Clausen’s teammates ended up costing them. Bellamy couldn’t control a pass that drilled him in the left shoulder along the sideline, and some poor blocking on second down on the ensuing drive left the Bears with another third and long that they couldn’t convert. Thanks to those failures, the team remained down 12 points as the third quarter came to an end.
In the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Jacksonville offense continued to struggle, but the Bears’ offense had one of its best drives of the night when Jordan Palmer entered the game. Ka’Deem Carey had a great 15-yard run for a first down, and just a few plays after Palmer found Matthew Mulligan over the middle for a 24-yard gain, Carey punched the ball into the end zone to make it a 19-14 game.
As the clock wound down, the Bears got the ball again late in the fourth quarter, and thanks to a silly Jaguars penalty and some great play by Palmer, they were finally able to gain a late lead. Running back Senorise Perry had a couple good plays in a row to move the ball down the field, and then Palmer completed a perfect pass to Armanti Edwards to set up a first and goal situation with less than two minutes remaining.
Just two plays later, Perry found a hole and ran up the middle for a touchdown with 50 seconds left to give Chicago a 20-19 lead. The ensuing two-point conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the Bears with the slim advantage as they kicked the ball back to Jacksonville.
After a couple of successful plays, the Jaguars' last ditch comeback attempt fell short when CJ Wilson intercepted a pass with 25 seconds left to seal the victory for the Bears.
Chicago will hit the road next week for their third preseason game as they travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. The game will begin at 9pm Central time.