OAKLAND, Calif. — Jay Cutler and the Chicago 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 on Friday night in the final big dress rehearsal for the regular season.
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 Chicago’s first-team offense before the season as the top stars will play sparingly — if at all — in the exhibition finale next week against Cleveland.
A week after falling behind 23-0 in the first half against New Orleans, the Raiders (1-2) looked equally inept at the start against the Bears as they were outgained 222-34 and outscored 24-0 in the less than 20 minutes.
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 the frustrated crowd of 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.
Pryor then 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.
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.
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 Tim Jennings intercepted a poorly thrown ball by Flynn at the Oakland 32. Forte took a swing pass on the next play and went in for a 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 that direction.
Forte and Jeffery led the first-team offense with Forte gaining 76 yards on six carries and catching two passes for 33 yards.
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 almost threw an interception on his first pass before providing a spark that Raiders fans are desperately seeking. He 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. Streater left the game after his catch with a head injury.
Pryor then threw for a score when he threaded a 19-yard pass to rookie tight end Nick Kasa on third-and-16 to cut Chicago’s lead to 27-20 before sitting for the rest of the game.