Bears

Bears Grades: Tackles slow down fierce Raiders pass rush

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Bears Grades: Tackles slow down fierce Raiders pass rush

The position group that has seemed in flux ever since the end of last season, even back into last season, for that matter, survived a wave of unanticipated upheaval and allowed the offense to function in the clutch.

Credit tackles Charles Leno, starting in place of injured left tackle Jermon Bushrod, and Kyle Long with superb overall handling of rush linebackers Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith without the Bears needing to over-commit tight ends or backs to chip our double-team. The Raiders did get to Jay Cutler for three sacks, one each by Mack, Smith and defensive end Justin Tuck, and four quarterback hits but the offense was able to generate 371 yards and finish with a 7-minute advantage in time of possession.

The line took a severe hit on the game’s third snap when center Will Montgomery was rolled up on while blocking and had to leave with an undisclosed injury. By the time the players were exiting the locker room, Montgomery’s lower left leg already was in a plaster cast.

Left guard Matt Slauson, who said he has taken a total of six snaps at center in this calendar year – all in practice –  moved to center and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Patrick Omameh moved in at left guard. The result was three-fifths of a line that had never worked together in any form.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

“To have Matt calling out the ‘Mike’ [middle linebacker] points was kind of strange at first,” Long admitted. “But he’s a really bright guy. If Will Montgomery can’t go, then he’s the guy who should be in there. I think he did a great job orchestrating the offense.”

The Bears did rig some protections to contain Smith but Leno consistently displayed quick feet in pass blocking, avoiding lunging or being bull-rushed. Slauson’s work at center was generally very solid before a botched snap in the second quarter gave Oakland the ball at the Chicago 25, The problem appeared to be more a case of Jay Cutler pulling back from center before securing the football although Slauson took responsibility and said he needed to have gotten the ball all the way firmly to Cutler before engaging in his block on Oakland nose tackle Dan Williams.

[MORE: Gould has his Michael Jordan moment in win]

The line put the offense in a second-quarter hole with a holding penalty inside the Chicago 20 but the Bears were able to avoid letting the mistake cause direct damage, although they did subsequently lose the fumble on the mishandled snap to give away 7 points. Vlad Ducasse committed a false start on first down with the Bears at their 20 following a Raiders field goal.

Holding together after the loss of Montgomery so early in the game, however, was an accomplishment in itself.

“Will sets the whole offense,” Slauson said. “I knew I was in that position. Definitely not as comfortable with it, but the guys battled. The defense gave us chance after chance after chance. Having a lot of guys out, having two on the O-line out, it was tough sledding.”

Grade: B+

ICYMI: The Bears lose in OT, the Bulls season nears, the Blackhawks make history

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USA TODAY

ICYMI: The Bears lose in OT, the Bulls season nears, the Blackhawks make history

The Bears suffered a heartbreaking defeat (that makes two of those), but the Bulls are days away from the start of a new season and the Blackhawks did something that has never happened before in sports history.

Bears

The Bears had a slow first half, failing to score against the shorthanded Dolphins, but picked things up in the third quarter. It all fell apart late in the fourth quarter and then again in overtime in a 31-28 defeat. Miami went up against the Bears without starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but Brock Osweiler threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns. What does that say about the Bears' defense?

Matt Nagy was a bit chippy with the media after the game, but there were still positive signs from the offense.

Plus, Dwyane Wade was there and repped the Bears on the road.

Bulls

The Bulls wrapped up the preseason Friday with a 98-93 loss to the Nuggets. Wendell Carter Jr. and Bobby Portis both showed well in the preseason finale and Jabari Parker flashed his potential as well.

With the preseason complete, Mark Strotman graded each player on the Bulls roster. You may not want to calculate the team GPA.

The roster is being finalized as well, with Ryan Arcidiacono making the team and local product Tyler Ulis getting picked up off waivers.

Blackhawks

Saturday was an eventful day for the Blackhawks. First, it marked the 1,000th career game for Duncan Keith. Keith talked about the emotional night after the game.

As for the game itself, the Blackhawks beat the Blues 4-3 in overtime. That was the second time the Hawks beat the Blues in OT this season, adding to a 5-4 OT win in St. Louis on Oct. 6.

Unbelievably, that was the fifth straight OT game for the Blackhawks. Every game has gone to overtime this season, and not one of those has even gone to a shootout. No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. Overtimes are more rare in other sports, but that also holds true for the NBA, NFL and MLB.

The Hawks don't play against until Thursday, when the host Arizona.

Bears notes: Was Trey Burton’s penalty justified?

Bears notes: Was Trey Burton’s penalty justified?

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — In a game full of pivotal moments, one seemed to irk the Bears in particular following Sunday’s 31-28 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.

Driving on the Dolphins three-yard line, the Bears lined up in a T formation with Jordan Howard, Trey Burton and Tarik Cohen lined up left to right in the backfield behind Mitch Trubisky, who was under center. Burton motioned out of the backfield and to the right, and ran his route into linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Trubisky threw a short pass to a wide open Cohen for a touchdown, with Alonso late getting to the running back after being hit by Burton. But that score was taken off the board for offensive pass interference, with officials ruling what Burton did amounted to an illegal pick play.

“Trey did everything I asked him to do,” Matt Nagy said, sharply.

On the next play, Trubisky forced a pass into double coverage in the end zone, which was easily picked off by Dolphins safety T.J. McDonald. Miami turned that interception into eight points on Albert Wilson’s 43-yard touchdown and an ensuing two-point conversion.

The way Burton understood the rule was that offensive pass interference was only assessed on a pick play if he intentionally ran into a defender without running a true route. That’s what Burton felt he did; the officiating crew disagreed.

“I thought I ran a route and the guy ran into me,” Burton said. “I thought they changed the rule this year or last year — if you run the route, it doesn’t matter if you pick the guy or not, you’re good. Obviously they called it.”

A Rough Return

The conversations surrounding the Bears Sunday into Monday would be awfully different had a number of things happened — Trubisky doesn’t throw that interception, the Bears’ defense gets a stop, Tarik Cohen doesn’t fumble near midfield, etc. In that same group: If Cody Parkey hits what would’ve been a game-winning 53-yard field goal in overtime.

Parkey, instead, missed that kick wide right. His career long is 54 yards, which he hit last year while with the Miami Dolphins (and that was a game-winner with about a minute left against the Los Angeles Chargers).

“I had the distance, I just didn’t kick it straight enough, bottom line,” Parkey said. “But you’ve got to move on. I’ve made game winners, I’ve missed game winners. As long as I keep playing, I’m just going to keep trying to kick my best.

“… I control what I can control, and unfortunately I missed a field goal. I’d like to have that one back, but it is what it is and I’m just going to focus on the next game. That’s all I can do.”