By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
CHICAGO — Robbie Gould’s 49-yard field goal in the final minute proved to be the difference, propelling the Chicago Bears to their first win of the season with a 22-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.
Bears’ (1-3) starting quarterback Jay Cutler completed 28-of-43 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in his return to the lineup after missing last week’s game due to a hamstring injury. Cutler’s status was up in the air for most of the week as he was limited in practice.
Oakland (2-2) was hanging on by a thread after taking a 20-19 lead with 2:05 left in the game behind a 41-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski. Janikowski’s field goal was set up by free safety Charles Woodson’s interception after Cutler drove Chicago deep into Raiders’ territory. Woodson, the savvy 18-year veteran, undercut a Cutler pass intended for tight end Martellus Bennett at the 6:50 mark.
Woodson’s interception was his sixth in eight career games at Soldier Field.
Woodson appeared to have saved Oakland once again after bailing out the Raiders with a game-clinching interception in last week’s win at Cleveland.
Martellus Bennett became another tight end that continue to hurt the Raiders’ defense this season, finishing with 11 catches (13 targets) for 83 yards and a touchdown.
With injuries decimating the wide receiving corps for Chicago playing with starters Alshon Jeffrey and rookie Kevin White, Cutler was able to get great production from wide receivers Eddie Royal (7 REC., 54 YDS, 1 TD on 10 targets) and Marquess Wilson (6 REC., 80 YDS on nine targets).
Chicago running back Matt Forte, who has been rumored to be on the trading block, finished with 25 carries for 91 rushing yards. Forte also added 48 yards on four catches. The Bears won the time of possession battle, controlling the ball for 33 minutes of the game compared to just 26 minutes for the Silver & Black.
Raiders’ starting quarterback Derek Carr completed 20-of-33 passes for only 196 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Carr was coming off back-to-back 300-plus passing performances.
Carr connected with rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper on a 26-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter that was placed perfectly on Cooper’s hands that needed replay review to confirm the score. Cooper was targeted nine times, catching just four balls for 49 yards receiving.
Fellow wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught five passes for 80 yards on six targets. Crabtree left the game in the second quarter after rolling his ankle, but returned to finish the game.
Latavius Murray, had a day to forget. Murray had a pass bounce of his chest pads that led to an interception in the second quarter, and then lost a fumble on a toss play. Murray, who was replaced by Roy Helu after the fumble, finished with with just 49 yards on 16 carries.
Malcolm Smith paced the Raiders’ defense with nine tackles. Oakland’s defensive unit as a whole registered three sacks and forced two fumbles (both recovered).
The Silver & Black converted two turnovers into 10 points, but it wasn’t enough for Oakland to push their record to 3-1.
After finishing their two-game road trip 1-1, Oakland returns home to host AFC West-leading Denver Broncos Oct. 11.