The beginning was impressive. The middle was ugly. And the end? It doesn't get much better than that.
"My favorite offensive formation is taking a knee. I love that formation," said Dick Jauron, who won the battle of rookie coaches Sunday as his Chicago Bears hung on for a 20-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
These aren't the same Bears that Chicago has come to dread the last few years. Forget that boring, predictable NFC Central offense. Offensive coordinator Gary Crowton has the Bears looking like a Western Athletic Conference team.
"I think we proved some people wrong today," Matthews said. "It's a long season and we've got a long way to go, but we've got the weapons."
But this wouldn't be a true Bears game without a serious breakdown. Elvis Grbac hit Derrick Alexander with an 86-yard touchdown reception to cut the Bears lead to 20-10 with 5:01 left in the third quarter.
Glyn Milburn gave the Chiefs another chance, fumbling the kickoff return. Robert Williams recovered it, and Kansas City had the ball at the Chicago 23. But Grbac threw to Andre Rison in the end zone even though Alexander was open, and Tom Carter broke up what would havbeen a touchdown.
The Bears got to Chiefs 6 on their next possession, but as Matthews went back to throw, the ball slipped out of his hand and Donnie Edwards picked it up. He rumbled 79 yards for the touchdown, cutting the Bears lead to 20-17 with 12:24 left.
Chicago took advantage of the new instant replay, which returned to the NFL this season after an eight-year absence, claiming Matthews' arm was already going forward and it should have been an incomplete pass. Referees let the touchdown stand after reviewing the play. The play was later changed to an official sack.
"We had all three of our timeouts at the time. We thought it was worth the challenge," Jauron said. "Unfortunately, it went against us."
The Chiefs got to the Bears 41 and 47 on their next two possessions, but were forced to punt and ran out of downs. They were pinned to the 4-yard line on Todd Sauerbrun's 47-yard punt on their last possession.
Grbac, who was 20-of-42 for 283 yards, missed his last eight passes.
"It's disappointing. That's the only word I can put on it," Grbac said. "We just didn't make the play when we had to. When it came to crunch time, we couldn't get it done offensively."
Matthews was 25-of-38 for 245 yards. Enis, playing in his first game since ripping up his knee last November, caught five passes for 69 yards, and rushed for another 64 yards.
"We believed in ourselves and our team, and that's all that matters," Enis said. "We're going to surprise people."
The Bears' high-octane offense has been a big topic of discussion ever since Jauron hired Crowton, the former Louisiana Tech coach, as his offensive coordinator. Especially when they decided to go with Matthews, who'd been cut four times by the Bears alone, over rookie Cade McNown.
But Crowton's offense. Pretty entertaining, too. Five wideouts. Reverses galore. The shotgun. End-arounds and short dumpoffs. By the time the first half ended, Chicago had 229 yards of total offense almost as much as they had in some games last year.
"They play razzle-dazzle football," said Chiefs coach Gunther Cunningham, who also interviewed for the Bears' job. "But after you get used to it, once you see it on film, once a game's played like this, now you know what they're all about. It's not confusing."
The Bears aren't trying to trick anybody, Crowton said.
"I've never claimed to be the most innovative man in the world or any of that. I'm just running football plays," Crowton said. "It wasn't run-and-shoot like everybody thinks it is. It's not that. I'm just trying to use the people we have and move the football."
Jauron made good on his promise o get McNown some playing time, putting him in with the Bears leading 10-3 in the second quarter. McNown's first pass was incomplete, but he followed with a 22-yard pass to Ryan Wetnight.
McNown finished 6-of-9 for 77 yards, though one of his incompletions was a dropped ball by Enis.
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