LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Brandon Marshall insisted it’s a new day. The way he connected with Jay Cutler, it sure seemed like old times.
The Pro Bowl receiver got off to a good start with his new team and his old quarterback, coming through with an explosive performance for the Chicago Bears in their 41-21 season-opening victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Marshall caught nine passes for 119 yards with a touchdown. Cutler threw for 333 yards with two TDs, and the Bears spoiled No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck’s debut with the Colts.
“We’re trying to build a new thing here in Chicago,” Marshall said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work. It was a great start.”
To many, it seemed like the duo picked up where they left off. They put up huge numbers during their three seasons together in Denver, and with Marshall now in the mix after that blockbuster trade with Miami, Cutler finally has a true No. 1 target with the Bears.
The early results? Well, they were as advertised.
“It was fun to watch,” defensive end Julius Peppers said. “Hopefully, that’s a sign of things that are going to happen all year.”
Cutler shook off a slow start, and the Bears racked up 428 yards on the way to their highest point total since they scored 48 in a win over Detroit in 2009. A big reason — Marshall.
Maybe the Packers will have better luck when the Bears visit Green Bay on Thursday night. Then again, their revamped defense got a harsh reality check in a 30-22 loss to San Francisco, and there are some questions in the secondary even with Tramon Williams at cornerback, so they might have trouble finding some answers.
The Colts certainly did.
Whether he was double-teamed or in single coverage, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Marshall made plays. And even the touchdown, a simple 3-yarder to give Chicago a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter, was impressive.
He drove Vontae Davis, his teammate in Miami last season, off the ball with a quick spin and caught a bullet from Cutler.
“Went in, turned around,” Marshall said. “Jay threw it, caught it, touchdown.”
The offense made it look that way once it got going, and the Bears believe there’s more to come. They believe the system is better tailored to the personnel now that Mike Tice is the coordinator, and they believe they have the pieces to make it work.
And it’s not just about Matt Forte carrying the ball or Cutler firing to Marshall. It just starts there.
“I know Jay spreads it out, but he definitely takes advantage of the matchups,” Marshall said. “This league is all about matchups. Today, it just happened to be a wheelbarrow for me. But next week, it might be a shot glass.”
Cutler used his arm strength to zip passes between two defenders or throw the ball up high in a crowd because Marshall would find a way to get it. It’s a weapon he hasn’t had since Denver traded him to Chicago.
It’s no surprise that 15 of the 35 passes Cutler threw were to Marshall, but the other receivers had chances, too.
There was rookie Alshon Jeffery hauling in a 42-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone on a perfect high arching pass that sailed about 60 yards late in the game.
Devin Hester had a 29-yard catch. Earl Bennett had a 25-yarder. But it was Marshall stealing the show.
Cutler said the Colts “weren’t really scared of him,” that they were “going to let him make plays” and try to stop the run. Would he be surprised if teams are scared of Marshall after this?
“You have Alshon (Jeffrey) catching touchdowns, Earl (Bennett) catching 60-70 yards,” Cutler said. “Matt Forte. Devin Hester so we have a lot of weapons. You kind of have to pick what you’re going to do. Going forward, mixing it up on defense and giving us a lot of coverages, different fronts, blitzing us is probably what we’re going to see.”
Notes: Coach Lovie Smith sounded optimistic Monday that CB Charles Tillman will return this week after leaving the opener with an injury to his lower right leg. Asked if he expects Tillman to be ready, Smith said, “Yes I do. The glass is half-full, always. So yes.” Smith said the Bears would have held him out along with LB Brian Urlacher had there been practice on Monday. Kyle Adams (shoulder) and J’Marcus Webb (thumb) were also banged up.
Follow Andrew Seligman on Twitter: http://twitter.com/aseligmanap
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL
More Related Stories
- Fox's new reality TV show threatens regular people with unemployment
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Steamy lesbian-sex movie has Cannes abuzz
- Stop what you're doing and go watch "Borgen"
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- New York chef serves up eight-course meal around "Arrested Development" jokes
- HLN: Jodi Arias "pleading for her life" got us a ratings win!
- Michael Ian Black on Maron feud: He "considered me a poseur"
- Chekhov's story mirrors Russia's own
- Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina denied parole
- Joe Francis apologizes for calling jury "retarded"
- Mary Karr: David Foster Wallace and I kept each other alive
- Morgan Freeman sleeps during televised interview
- J.J. Abrams reveals deleted shower scene with Benedict Cumberbatch
- Is the anti-gay backlash on?
- Paul McCartney backs Pussy Riot
- Cannes: Ryan Gosling's new movie draws the boo-birds
- Radio host tweets rape joke, blames journalists for reporting on it
- Juror responds to Joe Francis' insults with thoughtful email
- New track from the Lonely Island features Solange Knowles, semicolons
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11