Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles offense sliced the Bears apart in a 54-11 throttling in Week 16 last season.
That was far from the case in Friday night's preseason opener at Soldier Field as the Bears first-team defense set the tone in a 34-28 victory.
A revamped Bears defense, playing without veterans Jared Allen and Tim Jennings, applied constant pressure on Foles from the opening snap.
On the first possession of the game, ex-Detroit Lions defensive end Willie Young made his way into the Eagles backfield and forced Foles into lofting up an errant pass which was intercepted by safety Ryan Mundy — an offseason free agent signing.
“In the opening game, the offenses keep it pretty basic," Mundy said. "The quarterbacks not looking off too much. So that’s an opportunity for us to work on our vision on the quarterback and get a good break. And basically that’s what happened on that play.”
On the Eagles' next series, a Bears defensive front of Jeremiah Ratliff, Stephen Paea, Lamarr Houston and Young wreaked havoc on Philadelphia's offensive line, which resulted in two holding penalties and a quick three-and-out.
The Bears offense took advantage of solid field position on their second series of the night. Jay Cutler led a 13 play, 69-yard drive capped off by a spectacular back-shoulder throw to tight end Zach Miller, who received extra playing time due to starter Martellus Bennett's suspension, for a 10-yard touchdown. Miller went on to lead all receivers with six catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns.
After the touchdown, the Bears pulled all their defensive starters minus Shea McClellin. Foles led the Eagles offense into Bears territory, but the drive ended after a pass intended for Zach Ertz was intercepted by cornerback Sherrick McManis. Foles' two interceptions on Friday night matched his entire total from the 2013 regular season.
However, the Eagles got back in the contest behind former New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Sanchez led consecutive Eagles scoring drives late in the second quarter that both resulted in Matt Tucker touchdown runs.
The Eagles took a 21-14 lead into halftime after wide receiver Josh Huff returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown with 0:54 remaining the second quarter.
Jimmy Clausen took over at quarterback for Jordan Palmer (8-of-11 for 104 yards, one touchdown and one interception) to start the second half.
Clausen, who is in a battle with Palmer for the backup QB spot behind Cutler, had the Soldier Field faithful on their feet after tossing a 73-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Williams. Williams left the game after injuring his hamstring on the play.
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“It was a two-play call, and we checked out of the first play and went to that," Clausen said. "I thought Chris ran a great route, which makes my job really easy. I was just able to lay it out there and let him run underneath it.”
After an Eagles touchdown, Clausen responded immediately. The former Notre Dame standout found Michael Spurlock for a 22-yard touchdown pass, finishing off a nine play, 87-yard drive. A Dante Rosario two-point conversion gave the Bears a 31-28 lead late in the third quarter.
A Robbie Gould field goal with 1:55 remaining in the fourth quarter padded to the Bears lead.
"It took all 90 guys to win this game," Trestman said. "We had 90 Chicago Bears out there, and we played 4 quarters. I was really excited about that. It turned out to be the type of game we are going to have throughout the year, these “58 plus two” games. It’s going to take all 60 minutes to win them."