Bears off to up-and-down start with Carolina next

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman watched his defense struggle to stop Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers in a home loss and saw the proverbial tip of the iceberg for his inconsistent team.

Whether it's a Jay Cutler interception at an inopportune time, a running game that took three games to come alive, or an injury-plagued defense failing against Rodgers' aerial assault, the Bears have had an assortment of problems in a 2-2 start to the season.

Chicago was beaten 38-17 by the Packers on Sunday.

Trestman said the Bears' start is no different than that of many other teams, and he pointed to Tampa's upset of Pittsburgh after a 56-14 loss to Atlanta as an example.

"Atlanta goes into Minnesota, you see what happened (Vikings 41, Falcons 28)," Trestman said Monday. "Philadelphia has 12 yards rushing going into the last drive of a game. This is a very, very good league, it's a highly competitive league. We've got to be the kind of team that puts the past behind us very quickly."

Cutler's passer rating is 94.7, which is 5.5 higher than his personal best for a season. He had a four-touchdown game against San Francisco and led a road win over the New York Jets, but threw two key interceptions in Sunday's loss to the rival Packers and tossed a critical interception in a season-opening 23-20 overtime home defeat to Buffalo.

"We put up 500 yards of offense but we just didn't finish the way we wanted to finish (Sunday)," said tight end Martellus Bennett, whose play has been one of the few consistent aspects of the Chicago attack.

The Bears gained 496 yards to go with their 17 points, which Bennett said is "like having dessert before dinner." They got only a field goal out of two trips to the 1-yard line. In addition to Cutler's two interceptions, they committed a special teams penalty and a defensive penalty that led to more Packers points.

Bennett said the offense has to pick up the defense.

"Some games there's going to be a shootout," he said. "Man, our defense I thought they fought well, played, but they (the Packers offense) were on fire, too. Sometimes guys just get really hot. But some games we have to be really hot, as well."

The Bears defense had worried about stopping the run through the first three games, and eventually achieved success to some extent. Then they couldn't stop Rodgers.

It could have helped having a pass rush from defensive end Jared Allen, who was out due to illness. Trestman wouldn't acknowledge reports that Allen has pneumonia, but did say Allen was back on Monday as preparations began for Sunday's game at Carolina.

"It was good to see him in the building, good to see him in all the meetings. He got some work in the weight room," he said. "That's encouraging."

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall has been fighting an ankle problem, part of the reason the offense has relied on Bennett as its chief receiver to date with 29 catches for 295 yards.

"Actually before the game this week it probably looked better and felt better than it had the last two weeks," Trestman said about Marshall.

Cutler summed up the loss as the kind that doesn't end a season even if it was the fifth straight at home to their rivals from Green Bay.

"Not an easy one, not an easy one, especially the way we played the first half, the way we were clicking," he said. "But, it's early in the season. A lot of good things happened in this game. We have a lot of football left to play."

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