Bend, but don't break.
It wasn't disastrous, but the Bears first-team defense certainly bent in a 20-19 preseason victory to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Soldier Field on Thursday night.
The Bears defense struggled against a Jaguars offense that ranked near the bottom in every statistical category in 2013, including last in the NFL in points per game.
On the very first play of the night, the Bears lost rookie first-round pick Kyle Fuller to an ankle injury while he was being blocked on the opening kickoff.
Things wouldn't get much better from there.
Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne engineered a nine play, 41-yard drive on the team's first possession that resulted in a Josh Scobee 49-yard field goal.
Henne would lead the Jaguars back on the field just four plays later after a quick three-and-out by the Bears offense.
The Bears starting safety tandem of Ryan Mundy and Danny McCray had no answer for Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis, who developed into Henne's go-to-guy on the drive. The mammoth tight end accounted for 26 yards and drew a key holding penalty that put the Jaguars in the red zone. But once again, the Bears defense was able to hang tough at the goal line and hold the Jaguars to another Scobee field goal.
Chicago's defense would get a short breather after wide receiver Eric Weems fumbled at the 23-yard line on the ensuing kickoff.
The Jaguars capitalized on the takeaway immediately when Henne found Marqise Lee for a six-yard touchdown to give Jacksonville a 13-0 lead late in the first quarter.
“I think we’re a humbled group," Briggs said. "We’re working real hard right now. We’ll keep taking steps in the right direction. You’re never going to know [in the preseason]. It’s good to get tested against an opponent but you’re never really going to know until Week 1.”
Jay Cutler and the Bears offense would finally get back on the field, and draw Chicago back in the contest. Cutler led a 10 play, 85-yard scoring drive capped off by a four-yard Brandon Marshall touchdown reception. Cutler, who was replaced by Jimmy Clausen after the drive, finished the night with a dazzling 138.7 QB rating.
"We went three-and-out then and then we kind of had to wait around for a long time," Cutler said. "That was tough. But we bounced back, converted some third downs. The offensive line gave me a lot of time. It wasn’t our cleanest drive but we got the job done.”
However, the Jaguars would respond against a Bears defense featuring mostly reserves.
Blake Bortles, the Jaguars 2014 first-round pick (3rd overall), marched his team on a nine play, 50-yard drive which resulted in another Scobee field goal to give Jacksonville a 16-7 lead at halftime. The Jaguars finished the first half with 275 total yards.
The Bears wouldn't find the end zone again until rookie running back Ka'Deem Carey picked up his first rushing touchdown with 7:55 remaining in the contest to cut Jacksonville's lead to 19-14.
Chicago would get one last crack at moving to 2-0 — for the first time since 2007 — on the preseason.
Jordan Palmer, who is competing with Clausen for the team's backup quarterback job, ran the two-minute drill to perfection. Palmer found wide receiver Armanti Edwards for a 10-yard reception to put the Bears in the red zone. Rookie running back Senorise Perry finished off the drive with a five-yard touchdown to give the Bears a 20-19 lead.
C.J. Wilson picked off Jaguars quarterback Stephen Morris on the ensuing drive to complete the comeback for the Bears.