Work in Sports
CHICAGO (Ticker) -- These are not your father's Chicago Bears.
Employing a wide-open offense, the Bears made coach Dick Jauron's debut a successful one as Shane Matthews passed for 245 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-17 season-opening victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
"We mixed it up. That's our offense and we showed we can move it against anybody," Matthews said.
Rookie Brian Gowins kicked field goals of 21 and 24 yards for the Bears (1-0), who built a 17-point halftime lead and held on, despite a pair of big plays by the Chiefs.
Chicago converted 10-of-18 third downs, ended a nine-game September losing streak and won its opener for the first time since 1996.
"I liked that one. I liked the way it started, I liked the way it ended," said Jauron, who replaced Dave Wannstedt. "There were a few periods in between. There were two long plays, the long pass and the fumble recovery and run were unfortunate to us, but everything else I am really happy about."
Gunther Cunningham was a loser in his coaching debut as Kansas City held the ball for barely 25 minutes, just under 15 over the final three quarters. Elvis Grbac was 20-of-42 for 283 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
"I'm disappointed in all of our play on offense. I thought we could play better than that," Cunningham said. "I thought we could execute the passing game better, especially the hooks."
Grbac connected with Derrick Alexander for an 86-yard touchdown in the third quarter and the Chiefs climbed within 20-17 early in the fourth when linebacker Donnie Edwards returned a fumble 79 yards for a score.
But Kansas City was unable to get inside the Bears' 41-yard line thereafter and suffered its sixth straight road loss. The Chiefs dropped their opener for only the second time since 1989.
"I felt like the big play would start a reaction, we would start making plays," Alexander said. "We let this one get away. We came back strong in the second half. They didn't score any points, but we didn't score enough points."
Kansas City took the opening kickoff and moved 69 yards before settling for Pete Stoyanovich's 27-yard field goal.
The Bears answered with a 61-yard drive that was kept alive by a pair of third-down completions. Matthews found Marcus Robinson for 14 yards on 3rd-and-nine and connected with running back Glyn Milburn for eight yards on 3rd-and-three to the Chiefs 24.
Four plays later, Matthews and Enis hooked up for a score that put Chicago ahead for good, 7-3.
"They converted all those third downs. It's tough," Cunningham said. "We're about playing third-down defense. I think the last four years we've always been 1, 2 or 3 in the league.
That's what I told them, 'They're playing like crazy on first and second down, then you're giving up 3rd-and-seven conversions. And you can't do that in this league. You've got to stop them on third down and you've got to win on third down.'" Safety Tony Parrish returned an interception 40 yards to set up Gowins' 21-yarder before rookie Cade McNown, the 12th overall draft pick, made an impressive NFL debut. Coming on after Matthews scrambled for six yards, he guided Chicago the final 47 yards of a 74-yard drive that ended with Gowins' 24-yarder. The UCLA product finished 6-of-9 for 77 yards.
"Shane Matthews played a tremendous game and Cade was outstanding," Jauron observed. "He showed poise in the pocket."
"I felt comfortable with what I saw," McNown said. "We showed that we're capable of moving the ball. I was upset we didn't get the touchdown, but we did convert some big plays."
Matthews was back for the Bears' next possession and hit Curtis Conway for a 29-yard gain before Enis took a pass 28 yards to the Kansas City 1. On the next play, Matthews found Allred to make it 20-3.
"They came out with multiple formations with multiple personnel," Edwards said. "They'd go from three tight ends to two tight ends to four wide receivers at any given time -- first down, second down, third down, and all their passes were very quick. It didn't give us an opportunity to get on them."