Saturday night’s game between the Chicago Bears and the San Diego Chargers was everything it was expected to be. There were mistakes, injuries, and bad plays made by both teams but in the end, the Chargers made more good plays than the Bears and won 25-10.
This game may have been costly for the Bears, as they lost some key players to injury. Safety Craig Steltz was the first player to leave the field after suffering a knee injury. At this time it’s not known how long he may be out but after starting the game it appears as if the Bears were counting on seeing something out of him, and now they may have to wait a while to see it.
Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer left the game with a foot injury that doesn’t appear to be too serious, and quarterback Caleb Hanie left the game with a shoulder injury that still needs to be evaluated. Safety Major Wright, who was having a very good game, was diagnosed with a finger injury and will be evaluated more on Monday.
The Bears scored the first points of the game as kicker Robbie Gould booted a 38-yard field goal in the first quarter to put the Bears up by three. The Chargers would make it 7-3 after quarterback Phillip Rivers connected with wide receiver Legedu Naanee on a 28-yard touchdown pass still in the first quarter.
Chicago would go up 10-7 in the second quarter after second string quarterback Caleb Hanie hit wide receiver Devin Aromashodu on a seven-yard pass, which was beautifully thrown. The Chargers would move ahead of the Bears by four when fullback Mike Tolbert scored a TD from one yard out to make it 14-10 just before halftime.
The Chargers scored the remaining points in the game and began their scoring in the third quarter with a 28-yard field goal from kicker Nate Kaeding to give San Diego a 17-10 lead. San Diego would continue its scoring streak in the third quarter again after kicker Nick Novak booted a 43-yard field goal to give the Chargers a 20-10 advantage.
San Diego would get one more score in the third quarter when linebacker Brandon Lang blocked a Brad Maynard punt, which rolled out of the end zone for a safety.
Novak booted his second and final field goal of the game, a 48-yarder, that made the final score 25-10.
Play of the Game
The play of the game for Bears came when Hanie hit Aromashodu for that seven-yard touchdown in the second quarter. The route run by Aromashodu was almost perfect and after being chased out of the pocket, Hanie threw a nice looking pass to his target without trying to run the ball himself or panicking. Hanie has really impressed the coaching staff in the preseason when he gets a chance to play, and may end up being an adequate backup to quarterback Jay Cutler.
Offensive Player of the Game
Hanie wins this one due to his solid (and extended) play at the quarterback position. He continues playing very well in the preseason on an annual basis.
Defensive Player of the Game
Safety Major Wright had a very good game (six tackles with one assist) before injuring his finger to end his time in the game. The Bears (and their fans) hope this isn’t serious and that he can come back and contribute. If anything, Wright looked like starting material in this one.
As previously mentioned, Steltz (knee), Hanie (shoulder), Hillenmeyer (foot), and Wright (finger) went out of the game with injuries. Right now the Bears don’t list any other players on the team as being injured. A full update on the injury status of these players will come in future articles.
There were three key things seen in this game for the Bears. The first is that the Bears running game, both their running backs, and their run blocking looked less than stellar (yes, it’s the first preseason game but things looked pretty much the same as they did last year with the run blocking) and should be of some concern to the coaching staff. In limited action, running back Matt Forte looked rusty, but of course that is to be expected.
The “starting” offensive line looked pretty good in pass blocking for the most part (they did allow a sack of Jay Cutler) and picked up blitzes fairly well. Their run blocking was less than stellar and they didn’t get any push down the field when they ran the ball. The Bears need to go back to the drawing board and figure out their run blocking right away before the season starts.
The second key thing that we saw in this game was that the Bears, when healthy at the position, are going to be just fine at safety. Both Chris Harris and Major Wright played very well and if both can stay healthy then this team shouldn’t have too many issues at the safety position. Keep in mind that Wright will only get better and could end up being one of the better safeties in the NFL before it’s all said and done.
Finally, we may have to be a tad bit concerned about the defensive line’s ability to get penetration past the offensive line. The defensive line (at least the starters) played a few more snaps together than their offensive counterparts and showed us that they still have some work to do. But we won’t forget that this was a preseason game and this team, as well as any other team, isn’t going to look that great to start.
What’s up Next?
The Bears will return to Bourbonnais for training camp and will break camp on the 20th. Their next game will be at home against the Oakland Raiders on Saturday night.
Stay tuned for additional Bears updates throughout the week.