Bears 20, Chiefs 17

Sunday, September 12th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) -- The beginning was impressive. The middle was
ugly. And the end? It doesn't get much better than that.

"My favorite offensive formation is taking a knee. I love that
formation," said Dick Jauron, who won the battle of rookie coaches
Sunday as his Chicago Bears hung on for a 20-17 victory over the
Kansas City Chiefs.

These aren't the same Bears that Chicago has come to dread the
last few years. Forget that boring, predictable NFC Central
offense. Offensive coordinator Gary Crowton has the Bears looking
like a Western Athletic Conference team.

Shane Matthews threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns in his
first NFL start. Curtis Enis somersaulted into the end zone for his
first career TD and gained 133 yards of total offense. Nine
receivers caught balls as the Bears threw for 322 yards. Chicago
scored on all four of its first-half possessions.

"I think we proved some people wrong today," Matthews said.
"It's a long season and we've got a long way to go, but we've got
the weapons."

But this wouldn't be a true Bears game without a serious
breakdown. Elvis Grbac hit Derrick Alexander with an 86-yard
touchdown reception to cut the Bears lead to 20-10 with 5:01 left
in the third quarter.

Glyn Milburn gave the Chiefs another chance, fumbling the
kickoff return. Robert Williams recovered it, and Kansas City had
the ball at the Chicago 23. But Grbac threw to Andre Rison in the
end zone even though Alexander was open, and Tom Carter broke up
what would have been a touchdown.

The Bears got to Chiefs 6 on their next possession, but as
Matthews went back to throw, the ball slipped out of his hand and
Donnie Edwards picked it up. He rumbled 79 yards for the touchdown,
cutting the Bears lead to 20-17 with 12:24 left.

Chicago took advantage of the new instant replay, which returned
to the NFL this season after an eight-year absence, claiming
Matthews' arm was already going forward and it should have been an
incomplete pass. Referees let the touchdown stand after reviewing
the play. The play was later changed to an official sack.

"We had all three of our timeouts at the time. We thought it
was worth the challenge," Jauron said. "Unfortunately, it went
against us."

The Chiefs got to the Bears 41 and 47 on their next two
possessions, but were forced to punt and ran out of downs. They
were pinned to the 4-yard line on Todd Sauerbrun's 47-yard punt on
their last possession.

Grbac, who was 20-of-42 for 283 yards, missed his last eight
"It's disappointing. That's the only word I can put on it,"
Grbac said. "We just didn't make the play when we had to. When it
came to crunch time, we couldn't get it done offensively."

Matthews was 25-of-38 for 245 yards. Enis, playing in his first
game since ripping up his knee last November, caught five passes
for 69 yards, and rushed for another 64 yards.

"We believed in ourselves and our team, and that's all that
matters," Enis said. "We're going to surprise people."

The Bears' high-octane offense has been a big topic of
discussion ever since Jauron hired Crowton, the former Louisiana
Tech coach, as his offensive coordinator. Especially when they
decided to go with Matthews, who'd been cut four times by the Bears
alone, over rookie Cade McNown.

But Crowton's offense. Pretty entertaining, too. Five wideouts.
Reverses galore. The shotgun. End-arounds and short dumpoffs. By
the time the first half ended, Chicago had 229 yards of total
offense -- almost as much as they had in some games last year.

"They play razzle-dazzle football," said Chiefs coach Gunther
Cunningham, who also interviewed for the Bears' job. "But after
you get used to it, once you see it on film, once a game's played
like this, now you know what they're all about. It's not

The Bears aren't trying to trick anybody, Crowton said.

"I've never claimed to be the most innovative man in the world
or any of that. I'm just running football plays," Crowton said.
"It wasn't run-and-shoot like everybody thinks it is. It's not
that. I'm just trying to use the people we have and move the

Jauron made good on his promise to get McNown some playing time,
putting him in with the Bears leading 10-3 in the second quarter.
McNown's first pass was incomplete, but he followed with a 22-yard
pass to Ryan Wetnight.

McNown finished 6-of-9 for 77 yards, though one of his
incompletions was a dropped ball by Enis.
Notes: Jauron joins George Halas and Neill Armstrong as the only
rookie Bears coaches to win a season opener. ... Grbac's 86-yard
pass to Alexander was the longest completion of his career. It was
Alexander's longest reception as a Chief. ... Chiefs linebacker
Derrick Thomas, who had six sacks in last year's season opener,
went sackless Sunday. ... Bears tight end John Allred scored his
first touchdown. ... Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez, who injured
his knee in training camp, did not play.