- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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An examination of four hot issues from the Bears’ 24-21 win over the Bengals:
No pressure from the defensive line: Let’s not get too worried about it now because Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton let the ball fly quickly at the end of his drops. Cincinnati’s game plan was to get rid of the ball quickly and take what the defense was giving it. That meant lots of dink-and-dunk football.
“There were times we were getting frustrated,” Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton said. “You couldn’t really even get into your pass-rushing moves because the ball was already coming out. They were playing small ball.”
Defensive end Shea McClellin posted the lone sack, but that play came in a timely fashion considering it was Cincinnati’s final drive. Again, this isn’t something to be concerned with. Also, after one game, I’m not buying the theory that defensive end Julius Peppers has all of the sudden lost it. Trust me, he hasn’t.
Slow start on offense: Left tackle Jermon Bushrod said if there was anything he thought the Bears could’ve done better Sunday, it would have been getting out to a faster start.
The Bears converted on just 2 of 8 third downs in the first half, while generating 97 yards of offense, compared to Cincinnati’s 245. The 10 points Chicago scored in the first half came as a result of prime field position from a Charles Tillman interception and a 15-yard personal-foul penalty by Dre Kirkpatrick, which gave the Bears possession at the Bengals' 44.
“We could always start faster,” Bushrod said.
Missed tackles: Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker thought the defense performed well, but admitted the unit missed too many tackles while squandering opportunities to get off the field on third down -- issues that seem to go hand in hand.
In the first half, the Bengals converted on 71 percent of their third downs.
“It wasn’t like it was third-and-short. It was third-and-10, third-and-11,” linebacker Lance Briggs said. “Those are defensive-heavy, winning-percentage downs. That’s stuff we have to correct. I missed a lot of tackles today.”
No running game: Matt Forte averaged 2.6 yards on 19 attempts, which is a little low. But it’s to be expected considering the caliber of competition the Bears faced Sunday against Cincinnati’s dynamic front seven.
What’s important is Forte was able to gain 8 yards on a crucial fourth-and-1 with the game on the line.