Matt Forte compiles 109 total yards as the Bears offense finally finds some rhythm against the Raiders. (USATSI)
OAKLAND—Jay Cutler and the Bears look ready to start the season. The Oakland Raiders look ready for a quarterback controversy.Cutler led five first-half scoring drives, Matt Forte gained 109 yards from scrimmage and the Bears beat the Raiders 34-26 Friday night in the final big dress rehearsal for the regular season.
“It was a good outing for everybody, but it is preseason,” Cutler said. “You can’t get caught up in that. I don’t think we can get too high on this game. We made some mistakes and we need to go back and look at them. But it’s a good barometer of where we’re at and where we can go.”
Cutler and Forte connected on a 32-yard touchdown pass, former Raiders running back Michael Bush added a pair of touchdown runs and Alshon Jeffery caught seven passes for 77 yards as the Bears (2-1) broke out to a 27-0 lead in the first half. This was likely the last full test for the Bears first-team offense before the season as the top stars will play sparingly — if at all — in the exhibition finale next week against Cleveland. The Raiders (1-2) might need to use next week’s game against Seattle to figure out who their quarterback will be. Matt Flynn threw two interceptions on just six passes before being pulled in favor of Terrelle Pryor in the second quarter to the delight of frustrated Raiders fans. Oakland’s first-team defense was shredded and the usually reliable Sebastian Janikowski even missed a 49-yard field goal before connecting from 58 yards out on the final play of the first half to get Oakland on the board.
“We were very frustrated with how we performed,” Flynn said. “Watch it, correct it and you have to move on. We’ll move on from this.”
Pryor electrified the crowd by leading a late field-goal drive in the first half and then running and throwing for scores in the third quarter. Pryor finished 7 for 9 for 93 yards passing to go along with 37 yards rushing and led Oakland to 20 points on five drives and made a case that he should be the starter when the season starts.
“What I want to look at is who gives us the best chance to move the ball down the field and score points,” coach Dennis Allen said. “Obviously I’m not going to look at one night and base any type of decision on one night. I’ll go back and I’ll look at it and we’ll see where we go from here.”
The Bears came into this game looking to show their passing offense was more than just Brandon Marshall after he was targeted on all five throws by Cutler last week against San Diego. Cutler managed to do that on the first drive with long completions to Jeffery and tight end Marcellus Bennett that set up a field goal by Robbie Gould.
“We just called more of our packages and everybody got a chance to get the ball,” Bennett said.
Both those completions came against Raiders rookie D.J. Hayden, who played his first game since a near fatal practice collision last November in college at Houston. Hayden recovered from that scare and was picked 12th overall by Oakland, but was not cleared for contact until this week. He missed a tackle on Jeffery’s 22-yard gain, but later on the drive broke up a pass to Marshall. Cutler continued to spread the ball around on the second drive after a Tim Jennings interception. Forte took a swing pass on the next play and went in for a 32-yard touchdown. Cutler led three more scoring drives in the half and finished the night 12 for 21 for 142 yards with the touchdown. He completed passes to five players with none going to Marshall on four attempts in that direction.
“It was kind of imperative to do that, come out there and get everything going efficiently,” Forte said. “We started off fast. It was good to get that continuity going.”
The Raiders’ first-team offense had no bright spots with Flynn throwing as many interceptions (two) as first downs produced (two) in five drives, leading to frequent boos from the home crowd. Pryor led a late drive for a field goal at the end of the first half and then showed his athleticism on the opening drive of the third quarter. He hit Rod Streater on a 19-yard pass after scrambling out of pressure and then scored on a 25-yard run. Pryor then threw for a score when he threaded a 19-yard pass to rookie tight end Nick Kasa on third-and-16 before sitting for the rest of the game.
“I love to throw the ball,” Pryor said. “I find joy in throwing it. I also find joy in making plays with my feet too. It’s definitely something the defense has to look out for and it opens up a lot of things. But I’d rather throw a touchdown then run it.”
NOTES—Oakland RB Darren McFadden sat out with a shoulder injury but could have played if it was the regular season. … Bears CB Zach Bowman tore his hamstring.