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Durkin: Turnovers Spoil Bears' Opener

By Dan Durkin-

(CBS) Silence can be deafening, and that certainly was the case Sunday afternoon at Solider Field. Bears faithful left the stadium in stunned silence, as Chicago dropped its season opener to the Buffalo Bills, 23-20, in overtime.

There's plenty of blame to go around for the loss. Watching the Bills stampede the Bears run defense for 193 yards conjured up memories of last season, when Chicago finished dead last against the run. Over their last 11 games, the Bears have now surrendered more than 193 rushing yards six times.

Head coach Marc Trestman recognized how well the Bills run the football, but in the end, his focus was on the Bears losing the turnover battle. Buffalo had one, while Chicago had three.

"Overall, they're a great running football team, there's no doubt about it," Trestman said. "But at the end of the day, if you keep them in the 17-20 point range, that should be enough for us to win. If we hang onto the football, take care of it, we would've been in a good position to do that."

The Bear's first turnover came in the second quarter after an 18-yard completion to Brandon Marshall, who advanced the ball to the Bills' 28-yard line, only to lose the handle. Five plays later, the Bills converted a 50-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead.


On Chicago's next possession, quarterback Jay Cutler and tight end Martellus Bennett weren't on the same page. The Bears faked a bubble screen and tried to work Bennett up the seam. With the safety sitting high over the top, Cutler threw more of a curl/comeback route while Bennett kept running on a vertical route, and Bills cornerback -- and ex-Bear -- Corey Graham broke on the ball for an interception. Graham set the Bills up inside the red zone, and quarterback EJ Manuel found C.J. Spiller on the next play for a touchdown to take a 17-7 lead.

Clearly, the Bears are a team that will only go as far as their offense can take them. They'll be relied upon to win shootouts this season and make up for the deficiencies on defense. On Sunday, two Bears turnovers led directly to 10 points for the Bills, both coming on short fields.

Knowing that, Trestman felt his defense did enough for the Bears to win the game.

"If we're in the 17-point range, in this league, I think we're in a pretty darn good range (to win)," Trestman said. "They were on a short field for the one touchdown, and the turnovers put them back on the field."

Luckily for the Bears, they have 15 games left on the schedule and time to clean things up, but that doesn't take away the sting from losing the home opener to a seemingly inferior team.

"As I told the guys, it's continuity football, it's all about team," Trestman said. "All three phases were involved in this game. We've got to accept responsibility for it, that starts with me. The bottom line is, we lost. I'm very disappointed we lost this game."

Dan Durkin covers the Bears for and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.

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