By Fred Mitchell
11:18 PM EDT, August 24, 2012
Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall connected on their first Chicago Bears touchdown pass in the first quarter, and the Bears rallied after a ragged first half Friday to beat the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants 20-17 in their third preseason game in East Rutherford, N.J.
Cutler hit Marshall on a 21-yard toss to put the Bears ahead 7-3. The drive covered 59 yards in seven plays. But the offense spun its wheels for the rest of the first half.
The Giants reclaimed the lead 10-7 on an 11-yard TD pass from Eli Manning to Ramses Barden with 5:41 remaining until halftime. Barden beat Charles Tillman on the route to cap a 10-play, 58-yard drive.
The Giants had gotten on the board first on a Lawrence Tynes 32-yard field goal with 5:13 left in the first quarter. David Wilson had runs of 20 and 15 yards and a 29-yard reception from Manning. A personal foul on the Bears' Craig Steltz set the Giants up deep in Bears territory.
The Giants went up 17-7 with 1:22 left in the first half on a one-yard run by Andre Brown, and that was the score at halftime. The touchdown was set up when rookie Ryan Quigley, filling in for the injured Adam Podlesh, had a punt blocked and recovered by the Giants' Greg Jones inside the Bears' 10. That was followed by a pass interference call against Tillman in the end zone.
The Bears were frustrated trying to run in the first half. Matt Forte had just four yards on eight carries. As a team, the Bears ran for 29 yards. Devin Hester had 19 of those yards on one play.
“We’re doing some things but not good enough," coach Lovie Smith said at the half. "We haven’t gotten them off of the field on third downs on defense, we have to get that corrected.”
Cutler struggled in the first half, completing 7 of 17 for 72 yards. Marshall had four catches for 46 yards, but no other Bears player had more than one.
“We just looked off tonight," Cutler said. "Our communication was lacking. We missed some stuff we should have hit. We left a few plays out there. I thought the offensive line did a good job pass blocking. We have to get the run game going a little bit. So there is work to be done, but we were right there in the game.”
On having Marshall back on his team, Cutler said, "He makes life easy. But we missed too many things out there, like I said. I was talking to him when we came out. We just have to clean it up.”
The Giants amassed 188 total yards in the half as Manning completed 17 of 21 passes for 148 yards and a 111.9 passer rating. David Carr replaced Manning at the start of the second half.
The Bears' offense got off to a better start in the second half before settling for a 30-yard field goal by Robbie Gould to pull within 17-10. Smith left his starters in for the seven-play, 59-yard scoring drive while the Giants went with a second-team defense.
Cutler was relieved by Jason Campbell on the second series of the half. Cutler completed 9 of 21 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown on the night. He wasn't sacked or intercepted.
"We’re in a good place," Cutler said of the offense. "We’re heading in the right direction. We just need to clean up a few things. Really, it’s communication things, which is the easiest part to clean up. Physically, we’re in the right place. We’re doing the right things, so we just have to execute a little better.”
Campbell led a nine-play, 39-yard drive capped by a 48-yard Gould field goal to pull the Bears to within 17-13. Forte began the drive with runs of 24 and 11 yards and finished with 39 on the night on 10 carries.
The Bears regained the lead 20-17 on a 12-yard pass from Campbell to rookie Joe Anderson with 8:29 left in the game.
Giants right cornerback Prince Amukamara was injured when he tackled Marshall with 4:19 left in the first period. He was carted off to the locker room, where X-rays on his right leg were negative. He was diagnosed with a strained groin.
The Bears split their first two preseason games, losing to the Broncos and edging the Redskins. They wind up the preseason next Thursday in Cleveland before opening the regular season at Soldier Field against the Colts on Sept. 9.
The Bears are still without the services of veteran middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who continues to rehab his left knee.
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