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Bears vs. 49ers: Score and Twitter Reaction from "Sunday Night Football"

Published by Bleacher Report on Mon, 15 Sep 2014

The Chicago Bears used a blend of old and new to spoil the San Francisco 49ers' opening night at Levi's Stadium, scoring 21 consecutive points in the fourth quarter to steal the 28-20 win on Sunday.Nine-year pro Brandon Marshall continued to add to his ever-improving resume with three touchdowns on one good ankle, while rookie Kyle Fuller picked off Colin Kaepernick twice in the fourth quarter to spark the comeback.Jay Cutler, who took a massive hit to the ribs in the third quarter, finished with 176 passing yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He spoke with reporters about the hit:The Niners gained 361 yards to Chicago's 216, but four turnovers and 16 penalties for 118 yards were too much to overcome. Kaepernick just missed Michael Crabtree in the end zone with a minute to play.With Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman and Tramaine Brock all absent, there were concerns about San Francisco's defense. However,Patrick Willistold The Associated Press (h/tESPN.com) that he didn't buy into that talk:Everyone that's been talking about our defense, about how we won't be as good and what not, I don't get caught up in all that.The only thing that matters to me is how we perform on the field on game day with whoever is on the field. Those guys that aren't with us, they are certainly missed and hopefully they'll be back soon, but right now, we just have to focus on those guys that are out there.It was that defense that set the early tone. The Bears couldn't find any kind of rhythm with the ball, tallying a meager 93 total yards of offense (2.9 yards per play) in a sloppy first half.As former NFL scout John Middlekauff noted, it was Willis who was at the center of that success:As has often been the case with the Niners over the last several years, the defense led to offense. A blocked punt by Aaron Lynch set up a three-yard touchdown throw from Kaepernick to Crabtree, and a good punt return from Bruce Ellington after the "D" backed Chicago into its own end zone set up an eight-yard touchdown run by Frank Gore.While the Niners racked up a lot of yards in the first half, their first two touchdown drives consisted of a combined 10 plays for 38 yards, taking just over a minute-and-a-half off the clock.Chicago just didn't have the firepower to answer. Wide receiversAlshon Jeffery (hamstring) and Marshall (ankle), who were both game-time decisions, looked far from 100 percent. The normally dangerous big-play threats weren't nearly as explosive as usual.Bleacher Report's Dave Siebert and Grantland's Bill Barnwell touched on each player's obvious limitations:Of course, even at less than 100 percent, Marshall is still capable of doing special things. This one-handed grab cut San Francisco's first-half advantage to 17-7 and turned out to be a sign of things to come:As that magical catch capped off an otherwise hellacious first half that saw both teams combine for nearly as many penalties (17) as first downs (19),Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke came up with the perfect analogy:The second half was decidedly more entertaining.On the first drive, San Francisco marched down the field in a methodical fashion, taking over nine minutes off the clock to go 84 yards on 14 plays. The Bears made a nice stand, though, stuffing three runs from inside their 10-yard line to force Phil Dawson to kick the 24-yard field goal.The San Francisco Chronicle's Eric Branch questioned the Niners' play-calling:Settling for three points left the door slightly ajar for the Bears at 20-7, and they proceeded to kick it right in, going 80 yards on 13 plays on the subsequent drive. They finished their march with six points, though, as Cutler again connected with Marshall for the five-yard touchdown.Then Fuller took over. The first-round pick jumped two passes from Kaepernick for terrific interceptions on consecutive possessions, setting up touchdown throws to Martellus Bennett and Marshall.ESPN's Louis Riddick and Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo (and a lot of others) applauded the play of the 22-year-old Virginia Tech product, who looked to be taking the torch from an injured Charles Tillman:Just like that, the Bears owned a 28-20 lead.Kaepernick moved quickly down the field, but on 4th-and-9, his throw was just out of Crabtree's reach, sealing the unbelievable win for Bears.John Paulsen of 4for4.com noted just how unlikely the win was for Chicago:Both teams will go on the road next week. San Francisco heads to Arizona to begin division play on Sunday, Sep. 21, while the Bears will remain on prime time when they take on the Jets on Monday night.Although each side is feeling very different now, they each showed on Sunday that there are still plenty of kinks left to iron out. For Chicago, though, that's the future's problem. Right now, it's time to celebrate a massive win that erases memories of a terrible Week 1.
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