Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman warned his team just before it came out to the field Sunday that the Minnesota Vikings would throw the first punch, but the most important thing would be how the club responded.
“[Trestman] warned us before the game before we came out, ‘Get ready for them to strike first,’” Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said Monday during “The Jay Cutler Show” on ESPN 1000. “[The Vikings were] coming off a tough loss the first game. We knew we were gonna get their best punch. They didn’t want to go down 0-2. He warned us. He called it. He said get ready for these guys to come out and strike first. It’s gonna depend on how we answered back, and we did.”
Vikings rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson took the game’s opening kickoff and returned it 105 yards for a touchdown to put the visitors ahead 7-0 after Blair Walsh’s extra-point kick just 13 seconds into the game. Chicago responded on the ensuing kickoff with a 76-yard return from Devin Hester to set up the Bears at the Minnesota 32.
Five plays later, Cutler connected with Martellus Bennett for a 1-yard touchdown.
So Trestman’s pregame words proved prophetic.
“I don’t know that it was prophetic because it was just a kick return. But they did strike first, and it was great to see how our guys responded,” Trestman said. “I think I was trying to just break the game down to what it was gonna be. They’re coming in here, they had a tough loss in Detroit, and they’re trying to find a way to strike first. You have to anticipate that. You can underestimate that sometimes. I just thought it was the thing to say at the time, that it could have happened anywhere. It could have happened with a play-action pass because our overemphasis on stopping the run. It could happen in the kicking game with some kind of aggressive play. It could happen defensively with some kind of oddball blitz that happens early that we don’t prepare for. So that’s all. It was just a sign of a team that was trying to find a possession, or trying to find something to gain an edge early.”
The Vikings did just that, but as Trestman correctly predicted, the Bears bounced back. With two consecutive come-from-behind victories to start the season, linebacker Lance Briggs said the team is creating a “clutch” identity, that “when the chips are down, some Bear is going to make a play.”
Bennett considers the team’s comebacks a microcosm of real life.
“Things never really go the way you want them to go in life; never goes as planned,” Bennett said on “The Jay Cutler Show.” “So the only thing you can do is pick yourself up and keep going. That’s kind of the approach I take with the offense. It’s never gonna go the way we planned or the way we draw it up on paper because those guys get paid millions of dollars to keep us from doing it correctly. I think we just have a bunch of guys that just never quit and keep playing.”