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Hub Arkush: Heaping praise for what Bears showed

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) celebrates after scoring on a 32-yard touchdown reception, with guard Matt Slauson (68) and tackle Jermon Bushrod (74) during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) (Ben Margot)

And you were worried about the Bears' offense. At what point in the first half of the Raiders game did it become impossible to resist the temptation, so you ran to the phone, called your best buddy and started singing the Bears fight song and screaming "break up the Bears?"

In the first team's final dress rehearsal for the regular season, coach Marc Trestman finally unveiled his bag of tricks and showed you everything you've longed to see. The first play of the game featured three tight ends, then it was two tight ends, two running backs and one receiver, then three receivers, one tight end and one running back, and every other combination of positions you could imagine.

The first touchdown came with Matt Forte and Michael Bush in the same backfield on a swing pass to Forte that turned into a 32-yard catch-and-run that finished in the end zone.

With 10 minutes to play in the second quarter, Jay Cutler had targeted seven different receivers on four possessions. The score was 24-0. Alshon Jeffery was the star of the game and Brandon Marshall was an afterthought.

At times, the first half resembled a high school football scrimmage with the varsity taking on the freshmen. But to dwell on that would be to miss the point. The Bears didn't choose their opponent, they just beat the stuffing out of them. How many times did they fail to polish off a cupcake last year?

More to the point, they accomplished just about everything they could have hoped to in their final prep for the Bengals. The defense looked like Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli were still orchestrating one of the best units in the NFL, kind of. I'll get back to that in a moment. And Robbie Gould ended the first half scoring with a 53-yard field goal, proving he is fully recovered from offseason hamstring surgery.

The first-half totals for the first-string offense were 252 total yards, 110 rushing, 142 passing and a 27-3 lead. The Raiders did make a comeback in the second half, closing the gap to 34-26 at the finish, but that was only after the starters were long gone.

As you'd expect from a West Coast offense, a ton of it ran through Matt Forte, who had 77 yards rushing and 33 receiving with a touchdown.

Jay Cutler was 12 - 21, 142 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions, and Alshon Jeffrey had 7 catches for 77 yards. The only slight disappointments were Cutler was inaccurate at times and Brandon Marshall was shut out on four targets, including two flat-out drops.

As I mentioned, the defense was dominant, allowing the Raiders just 92 yards of offense, with 40 of those yards coming in the last minute of the half with Terrelle Pryor running a two-minute drill. It took a 58-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal for the Raiders to dent the scoreboard.

Picking right up where they left off last year, the Bears had two interceptions, one each from Tim Jennings and Isaiah Frey. Jennings made a spectacular break on the ball but also, much like last year, those picks were very much about terrible throws by Matt Flynn.

In fact, here it is important to point out that it's hard to know if we learned as much about the Bears' defense as we did about how awful the Raiders were.

But here's what was new and exciting on defense. On successive plays on the Raiders' second possession, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker called a safety blitz from Chris Conte and then a corner blitz from Charles Tillman. The Bears blitzed twice more and made it clear this will be Tucker's 4-3 "D" and not Lovie Smith's Cover 2.

Finally, there were the rookies. Individual grades have to wait for the film, but the offensive line gets the highest compliment it can. Jay Cutler never got dirty and not a single O-lineman did a thing to get noticed.

• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at harkush@shawmedia.com.

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