Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler played just one series and watched as Chicago beat Buffalo even though the offensive line did little to ease any lingering concerns.
The Bills got two sacks from Shawne Merriman and nine in all, but the Bears prevailed on a soggy night in which both teams pulled their starters early.
Cutler and Chicago’s skill position starters played one series, with the linemen staying in for the first half. On defense, the first stringers lasted two series, while the Bills lifted their starters on both sides after two.
Cutler could be excused if he experienced flashbacks to last season, when he was sacked an NFL-leading 52 times. He again had little time with the defense bearing down on him and couldn’t do much in his first appearance at Soldier Field since an NFC championship loss to Green Bay.
Newcomer Marion Barber made a good impression, running for 45 yards and leading the Bears to a second-quarter touchdown. He carried six times for 37 yards on that drive, setting up a 4-yard run by backup quarterback Caleb Hanie that put Chicago ahead 7-3.
Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 7 of 9 passes for 44 yards. Stevie Johnson, the man the Bills are counting on to take over the No. 1 spot with Lee Evans gone, caught three passes for 15 yards. Fred Jackson ran for 18 yards on three carries.
Anyone considering Cutler will have to take into account that his health might be an issue at some point in 2011 behind a rag-tag line.