The Chicago Bears are now 0-2 during the regular season as they were demolished by the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 48-23 on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.
The Cardinals opted to receive the opening kick-off after winning the coin toss, and they made the most of it as they scored immediately. David Johnson caught the kick eight yards deep in the end zone, and he brought it all the way back for the longest return touchdown the Bears have ever conceded, and in the blink of an eye the Cardinals grabbed a 7-0 lead.
The teams traded unsuccessful drives as the first quarter got underway in earnest, but on their second possession the Bears were able to get a couple of big plays and tied things up. Just a few plays after Jay Cutler found Matt Forte on a long screen pass for a first down, the quarterback got a gift from the Cardinals as Josh Bellamy found a wide open seam on the field and cruised into the end zone for a 48-yard touchdown catch and a 7-7 tie.
The Cardinals answered right back with a touchdown of their own just before the end of the first quarter. After a Kyle Fuller pass interference penalty gave the Cardinals a first down in the red zone, they took advantage as Jaron Brown snagged a screen pass and hopped across the goal line to give them a 14-7 lead.
Early in the second quarter, the Bears racked up an impressive drive of their own, and their efficiency led to a touchdown. Cutler used the read option to perfection for several good gains on the drive, and Jeremy Langford spelled Matt Forte as he picked up a couple of key gains of his own. After Martellus Bennett brought the Bears down to the goal line, Langford finished the drive off with a one-yard touchdown run to tie things up at 14-14.
The Cardinals got the benefit of another pass interference call on their next drive as Alan Ball was flagged, and Arizona took advantage as they scored again. Larry Fitzgerald made the play happen as he came into motion and set up shop near the offensive line, and his quick slant route inside beat Fuller and allowed Palmer to find him for a touchdown to give Arizona a 21-14 advantage.
On the Bears’ next drive, things quickly went from bad to worse. Cutler threw an interception right into the arms of Tony Jefferson, and the cornerback ran the ball back for a touchdown and a 28-14 lead.
More importantly, Cutler was injured attempting to make a tackle on the play, and he was forced to leave the game in favor of Jimmy Clausen.
Clausen didn’t do much for the Bears on their opening drive, but he ended up getting a second chance as the Cardinals fumbled away the ensuing punt. The Bears couldn’t move the ball any further up the field however, and they had to settle for a Robbie Gould field goal to make it a 28-17 game.
Things continued to slide downhill for the Cardinals as Palmer promptly threw a ball right at Jared Allen on the first play of the ensuing drive. The veteran linebacker popped the pass up into the air and fell down with it for his first interception in four years to give the Bears yet another chance to score late in the half.
After Forte was stopped well short of the first down marker on a third and inches play, the Bears were once again forced to settle for a field goal to make the score 28-20 at halftime.
The Bears got the ball first to start the second half, and after Clausen charitably gave it right back to the Cardinals with an early interception, Arizona scored yet another touchdown. On a flea flicker play, Palmer got the ball in the backfield and lofted a ball up toward Fitzgerald in the end zone. Somehow, the receiver got under the pass, fought his way through Shea McClellin, and caught it for a touchdown to make it a 35-20 game.
After the Cardinals got the ball back again, they once again were able to move down the field quickly to score. David Johnson again did the honors for the Cardinals, rushing in on a sweep to the left side of the field to make it a 42-20 contest.
It appeared that the Bears were going to get a nice drive going thanks to lengthy runs by Forte and Jacquizz Rodgers, but things stalled out thanks to penalties by Vladimir Ducasse and Jermon Bushrod. The Bears eventually settled for a 51-yard field goal from Gould, and his score made it a 42-23 game.
The Cardinals rubbed salt in the Bears' wounds on a late scoring drive, with Fitzgerald providing the final dagger as he stiff-armed Terrance Mitchell in the face on the way to the end zone and a 48-23 final margin of victory.
The Bears, 0-2 after two home games for the first time since 1973, will try to improve their fortunes on the road next week as they battle the Seattle Seahawks in the Pacific Northwest.