Jay Cutler hooked up with Brandon Marshall for a go-ahead 19-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter, as the Chicago Bears began the Marc Trestman era with a 24-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the season-opener for both teams on Sunday at Soldier Field.
Cutler finished 21-of-33 passing for 242 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Marshall hauled in eight passes for 104 yards and the deciding score for the Bears (1-0), who went 10-6 last season but missed out on the playoffs after losing a tiebreaker with Minnesota for the sixth seed in the NFC.
"There were a lot of question marks," Cutler said of coming into the season with a new head coach. "It wasn't pretty, it wasn't perfect, we didn't think it was going to be. We made plays when we had to make plays."
Matt Forte rushed 19 times for 50 yards and a touchdown in the victory, helping Trestman become just the fourth Bears head coach to win his debut contest, joining Hall of Famer George S. Halas (1920), Neill Armstrong (1978) and Dick Jauron (1999).
Cincinnati signal-caller Andy Dalton completed 26-of-33 passes for 282 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while A.J. Green grabbed a game-high nine passes for 162 yards and both of Dalton's touchdowns.
"They didn't stop us one time," Green said. "They didn't really stop us on offense. We were doing whatever we wanted. The biggest thing we had was turnovers."
BenJarvus Green-Ellis added a rushing score for the Bengals (0-1), who entered the postseason as a wild card club last season, but failed to score an offensive touchdown in a 19-13 loss at Houston in the opening round.
Cincinnati led 14-10 at the break before opening the second half with a 12- play, 80-yard scoring march that Green-Ellis capped with a 5-yard TD run.
Dalton converted a pair of third downs on the trek before a pass interference call against Chicago's Charles Tillman in the end zone set up Green-Ellis' score to extend Cincinnati's lead to 21-10.
Cutler countered with a scoring march of his own, converting a 3rd-and-7 with a 30-yard completion to Martellus Bennett before hitting Alshon Jeffery for 18 more down to the Cincinnati 5.
Two plays later, Forte punched it from a yard out to bring the Bears within 21-17 with 3:22 left in the third.
The Bears forced a quick three-and-out from the Bengals, but Cutler was picked off by Vontaze Burfict on the third play of Chicago's ensuing drive to give Cincinnati possession at the Chicago 40.
However, the Bengals gave the ball right back, as Mohamed Sanu was stripped by Tim Jennings, who pounced on the loose ball at the Chicago 19.
Cutler then guided the Bears into Cincinnati territory, converting a 3rd-and-3 with a 38-yard strike to Marshall down to the Cincinnati 36.
After a holding penalty pushed the Bears back, Cutler scrambled for 18 yards before Forte was stuffed for a short gain to set up 4th-and-1 from the 27-yard line.
With over eight minutes remaining, the Bears elected to go for it rather than kick a field goal and Forte took a carry around the right end for eight yards and a fresh set of downs.
Cutler put the Bears in front on the next play, firing a strike to Marshall in the left side of the end zone for a 19-yard score and a 24-21 lead.
Chicago forced a quick three-and-out from the Bengals and with Cincinnati out of timeouts, the Bears were able to run out the clock to complete their come- from-behind victory.
Dalton was picked off by Tillman on Cincinnati's opening drive and the Bears quickly cashed in, as Cutler converted a 3rd-and-17 with an 18-yard strike to Marshall before hitting Bennett in the back of the end zone two plays later for an 8-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead just over five minutes into the game.
After the teams exchanged three-and-outs, Dalton got the Bengals on the board, orchestrating a 9-play, 97-yard drive that culminated in a 2-yard scoring strike to Green to tie the game at 7-7.
Dalton put together another lengthy scoring drive midway through the second, converting a pair of third downs before finding Green deep down the right sideline for a 45-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
Robbie Gould buried a 58-yard field goal in the waning seconds of the first half to send the Bears into the break facing a four-point deficit.
Gould's 58-yard field goal was the longest in Bears franchise history ... It was Tillman's second career multi-INT game ... Green is the first Bengals player with two TD catches in a season opener since Cris Collinsworth in 1986 ... Green-Ellis finished with 25 yards on 14 carries.