Bennett, Jeffery make up for quiet Marshall
December, 30, 2012
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesEarl Bennett had his best game of the season thanks in large part to a 60-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.DETROIT -- Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall never got in a rhythm in the regular season finale but the Bears got solid contributions from Earl Bennett and rookie Alshon Jeffery in a 26-24 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Bennett and Jeffery combined to catch nine passes for 185 yards and a touchdown on just 13 targets, one less target than Marshall, who finished with only five receptions for 42 yards.
Bennett led the Bears with five catches for 109 yards and got his team on the board in the first quarter when quarterback Jay Cutler audibled to a swing pass and hit Bennett in stride heading towards the team's sideline. After picking up a block from Marshall, Bennett did the rest and outran the Lions' defense for a 60-yard touchdown.
"We saw the read, and we just went with it," Bennett said. "They gave me and Brandon a look and Brandon did a great job on the outside blocking those guys and the other Lions defender kind of ran into him. It was just all about taking advantage when you get opportunities and making plays which we did."
Bears coach Lovie Smith singled out Bennett and Jeffery in his postgame press conference.
"(Earl's touchdown) was huge, and we went to Alshon Jeffery quite a bit, too," Smith said. "We needed somebody else of course besides Brandon. But you needed someone to really step up and Earl did. You know he's been steady for us for a lot of years around here and it's good to see him play that way today."
Sunday's performance was a vindication of sorts for Benett, who suffered through a broken hand and a concussion that forced him to miss four games and affected his play in several others. Jeffery was also sidelined six weeks during the season with a fractured hand and a knee injury that required a minor procedure to correct.
"It's always a lot of fun to get out there and make plays and help the offense," Bennett said. "Today I got involved a lot more and it was exciting. It was lot of fun. It's been pretty frustrating, but you just have to stay the course. Once you get those opportunities, you have to take advantage of them."