Illini pull away from W.Kentucky 42-34


CHAMPAIGN—Illinois found itself on Saturday in the same place it was a week ago: down in the second half to the kind of team Big Ten schools schedule with comfortable wins in mind.And for the second straight week, they looked to quarterback Wes Lunt to bail them out.Lunt, with a big hand from safety Taylor Barton, delivered, turning what would have been an embarrassing loss into a 42-34 win over Western Kentucky. A week earlier Illinois (2-0) had to come from behind to beat Football Championship Subdivision school Youngstown State.

”I asked them in the locker room, `Please don’t do that anymore. I’m getting old, my heart is getting bad,”’ Illinois coach Tim Beckman said. ”We’re not where we want to be by any means, but it was good to see and I was glad for our kids.”

The Hilltoppers (1-1) believed they let a potential win slip through their fingers. They led 17-7 in the second quarter and 24-21 in the third.

”We thought momentum completely swung our way. We feel like this one did get away from us,” said linebacker Nick Holt, who led Western Kentucky with 12 tackles. ”We’ve got to finish in the fourth quarter.”

The undefeated start for Illinois looks good in the standings, and Lunt had a big day with three touchdowns and 456 yards on 35-50 passing.But a week after Youngstown State, the Illini again tip-toed toward disaster.The Hilltoppers opened up that 17-7 lead while Illinois’ offense sputtered.A 95-yard fumble return by Western Kentucky cornerback Wonderful Terry.On the other hand, after failing to create a turnover in two-plus games dating to last season the Illini enjoyed three Saturday. The biggest was Barton’s fourth-quarter interception.The Illini were up 28-27 with less than 11 minutes to play. Western Kentucky had the ball at the Illinois 30-yard line and was moving with ease.Hilltoppers quarterback Brandon Doughty looked over the middle and threw deep for a receiver, apparently never seeing Barton waiting between him and his target.Barton pulled down the pick, cut left and was quickly past the last defender for a 77-yard touchdown return and a 35-27 lead.

”I’m just reading the quarterback at that point,” Barton said. ”When I caught it and looked up, I saw there was a crease and I just tried to hit the crease. After that, I just ran as fast as I could.”

The Illini hadn’t returned an interception for a touchdown since September 2012, early in coach Tim Beckman’s first season in Champaign.

”Those are the things that hurt us last year,” Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm said. ”When you talk about turnovers, especially for touchdowns.”

Illinois was also 9-13 on third-down conversions, a frustration noted by Brohm and Holt.After throwing for more than 500 yards against Bowling Green a week earlier, Doughty grabbed the headlines coming into the game. But running back Leon Allen was the hammer Western Kentucky used to pound down the Illini early Saturday.Allen was the big reason the Hilltoppers were able to turn a defensive stand late in the first quarter into a 99-yard touchdown drive that silenced a sparse Memorial Stadium crowd, stunned Illinois and gave Western Kentucky its first lead.After holding Illinois four times inside its own 6-yard line, including the stop on fourth down at the goal line that gave them the ball, the Hilltoppers started pushing their way up field.Allen carried the ball nine times for 36 yards and caught two passes during the 18-play, 5:58 drive. His last carry was the 1-yard touchdown run that, with the extra point, gave Western Kentucky a 10-7 edge.He finished with 24 carries, 118 yards and the touchdown. But he carried the ball just five times for six yards in the second half.

”They ran the ball a little bit more than they had shown on film but once we showed it to the kids, they understood exactly how they were getting attacked,” Illinois defensive coordinator Tim Banks said.

Doughty was 28 of 48 for 297 yards, two touchdowns and the interception.Illinois wide receiver Justin Hardee caught six balls for 110 yards and one touchdown.The Illini travel to Washington next Saturday for their first road game of the season and first game against a major-conference team. Western Kentucky heads to Middle Tennessee.

USA pulls away from the Ukraine, now 5-0, face Mexico in Quarter Finals Saturday.

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SEVILLE—Another slow start and another big win for Team USA. This seems to be the pattern for USA Basketball, although this time it looked like the slow start was from rotation and experimentation as much as it had to do with just not being energized to start the game. Mike Krzyzewski went to Derrick Rose, Rudy Gay, Klay Thompson, DeMar DeRozan, and DeMarcus Cousins early in the game, throwing them all out there together in the first quarter. It allowed that lineup to get extended minutes with each other, something they’ll have to work on for elimination rounds and eventually if they need to play against Spain as a unit.Coach K has been pretty generous with trying different lineups and combinations in this game, and made sure he found some combination of players to eventually pull ahead of Ukraine. After taking a 2-0 lead on free throws from Kyrie Irving, the USA wouldn’t lead again until Stephen Curry hit a 3-pointer with 4:01 left in the second quarter to give USA a three-point lead. Ukraine led after the first quarter and either led or was tied for a good chunk of the second quarter.Eventually, the defense and energy showed up, they forced empty possessions for Ukraine, and the talent won out. Team USA went on a 19-5 run to close the first half and lead by 12. The Ukraine played a virtually even third quarter with the US before succumbing to the inevitable in the fourth.There was also a bit of a scary moment late in the game when Irving hit the floor hard and walked off the court to the locker room.
Three stars:   1. Stephen Curry gets rolling from deep. Curry had been struggling with his shot in the first four games of the tournament. He entered the fifth game making just 35.3 percent of his field goals and 36.3 percent of his 3-pointers. That’s not very Curry-like on a basketball court. All of that changed against Ukraine with Curry scoring 14 points on six shots in 19 minutes of action. He hit 3-of-4 from downtown and went 5-of-5 from the free throw line (he hasn’t missed yet in the tournament). Team USA will need Curry to help stretch the floor and be that trailing threat in transition. Seeing him getting hot or progressing back up to his own historical mean is a great sign. 2. James Harden hunted for less contact and was more effective. Harden is a hunter now. He’s always been a player that draws a lot of contact and gets to the free throw line, but since he joined the Houston Rockets, it almost seems like he’d rather get contact and draw a foul than get the quick score. There’s a value to it because it gets the defense in foul trouble when it works, but it also can ruin the tempo and pace of your team’s game if it’s not going smoothly. Harden appeared to hunt for less contact against Ukraine and he seemed to have a more evident impact. He had 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field and attempted just five free throws in 24 minutes. Harden also forced a couple of turnovers and dished out five assists.  3. Klay Thompson had a phenomenal showing off the bench. The game and energy started to turn around with Thompson checking into the game early on. His on-ball defense was superb and he moved the ball really well. You won’t see an incredible stat line in his box score, but his seven points, five rebounds, and four assists in 23 minutes felt pretty important. He’s mostly there to stretch the floor, so if you can get him making the extra pass and setting teammates up on that end of the floor, it opens up the possibilities for this offense to expand even more. That’s a scary/fun thought.

NOTES—Team USA faces Mexico on Saturday in Barcellona. Mexico went 2-3 in Group D play and finished as the fourth team in the group.

GROBBER’S WEEK ONE NFL PICKS(NOT against the spread)

KANSAS CITY over Tennessee
New England over MIAMI
NY JETS over Oakland
PITTSBURGH over Cleveland
ATLANTA over New Orleans
San Francisco over DALLAS
Carolina over TAMPA BAY
PHILADELPHIA over Jacksonville
HOUSTON over Washington
DENVER over Indianapolis(Sun Nite)
ARIZONA over San Diego(Mon Nite)
SEATTLE over Green Bay(Thur Nite)
ST.LOUIS over Minnesota
DETROIT over NY Giants(Mon Nite)
BEARS over Buffalo


USA starts slow agin before blowing out Dominican to clinch Group C

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SEVILLE—Team USA started slowly yet again, but coasted to a 106-71 victory over the Dominican Republic in the FIBA World Cup on Wednesday. It was only a 25-22 lead after one quarter, but Team USA did what it had to do later on to create the sort of separation everyone expected. The win means they’ve clinched first place in Group C.Considering that the Dominican Republic sat Francisco Garcia to rest his sore ankle before facing Turkey on Thursday, Team USA could really have won by more. In an exhibition game a couple of weeks ago, Team USA beat this team by 43 points.Kenneth Faried finished with a game-high 16 points and six rebounds, and Anthony Davis had 10 points, seven rebounds and five blocks. Team USA’s starters, particularly the frontcourt, have been unstoppable so far in the tournament. Guard Victor Liz led the Dominican Republic with 15 points.There are some areas of concern here, despite the steady stream of blowout victories. Team USA has been consistently sloppy early in games, and they’re going to need to clean things up for when the competition gets stiffer. The final score obscured some silly offensive miscues and poor defensive decisions. Team USA deserves credit for upping its intensity later on — they went on a 22-0 run! — but it’s fair to want to see them play a full 40 minutes that way. They’ll need that against Spain.Derrick Rose still hasn’t had that breakout game. He didn’t look bad in this one, but we’re all waiting for him to assert himself more. In 13 minutes, he had six points and three assists. There was a lot of talk during training camp about him slowing down and picking his spots. So far that’s manifested in some nice passes, but that’s about it.
Three stars:  1. I’m getting a little tired of praising Kenneth Faried, but he deserves it. Faried shot 8-for-11, bringing his total to 29-for-36 in the World Cup. How crazy is that? Most of his offense comes off putbacks or in transition, but he also had a nice spin move in the post. That’s the sort of stuff he was showing in Denver toward the end of last season.
2. DeMarcus Cousins is giving his all. Yeah, he’s making mistakes on defense, but he’s been active and as aggressive as possible. Cousins had 13 points, five rebounds, two assists and six steals in just 12 minutes. He made all five of his field goal attempts.
3. DeMar DeRozan may be earning himself some more playing time. He entered the game in the first quarter and ended up with 11 points (on 5-for-8 shooting), two rebounds, two assists and three steals. DeRozan showed patience and an ability to pick his spots on offense, though he did turn the ball over five times.

Rose little factor, but USA routs Kiwis 98-71

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SEVILLE—Coming off a slight scare against Turkey (about as big a scare as you can imagine a 21-point victory would be), Team USA got off to a fast start in its third game of group play Tuesday at the 2014 FIBA World Cup and mostly coasted to a 98-71 victory over New Zealand.After a lackluster first half effort against the Turks on Sunday, coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad came out focused against the Kiwis, building a 22-point halftime lead that allowed them to pretty much cruise the rest of the way. Anthony Davis led the Americans with 21 points, nine rebounds, two steals and one block while Kenneth Faried followed up with 15 points, 11 rebounds, one steal and one block.It’s ironic that Team USA’s biggest concern coming into the tournament was the frontcourt but so far, Davis and Faried have looked like the Americans’ two best players. However, USA Basketball’s guards also regrouped from underwhelming performances against Turkey to help blow New Zealand out early.James Harden led the guards with 13 points, four assists and two steals, while Stephen Curry finally had a good outing with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting to go with five rebounds and three assists. Klay Thompson had 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting off the bench and Kyrie Irving added 10 points, four rebounds and four steals. The Kiwis were led by 11 points from B.J. Anthony.Derrick Rose once again struggled from the floor, going 1-for-6 from the field, but he didn’t look physically worn down despite playing his third game in four days, which is really all that Bulls supporters and NBA fans in general care about at this point. He was also pesky on the defensive end and looked quick on his feet. Rose finished with three points, two assists, one rebound, one steal and one block in 17 minutes.Team USA’s three-point shooting has been an issue through three games at the FIBA World Cup, but the Americans were a little bit better against the Kiwis, going 6-for-16 from downtown (38 percent). They shot 51 percent from the floor and assisted on 21 of their 35 field goals.

Awful start costs NU bad loss to lowly Cal in opener

EVANSTON—Jared Goff threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns, Jalen Jefferson had a key interception, and California hung on to beat Northwestern 31-24 Saturday in the season-opener.The Golden Bears looked like they were on their way to an easy victory up 31-7 in the third quarter. Instead, they had to sweat this one out.Northwestern got two touchdowns in a 25-second span late in the third to pull within 10. Jack Mitchell added a 24-yard field goal with 5:18 left in the game to make it 31-24, and the Wildcats were threatening to score again when Jefferson came up big.With Northwestern on the California 27, he sacked Trevor Siemian for an 11-yard loss. On the next play, he picked off a tipped pass that was intended for Pierre Youngblood-Ary at the 15, and the Golden Bears came away with the win after dropping 16 straight to FBS opponents.The late rally aside, it was a rough afternoon for Northwestern.The Wildcats are trying to steer attention toward their play after being engulfed by the unionization debate with former quarterback Kain Colter leading the movement, and this was not what they had in mind.Coming off a 5-7 season, they couldn’t slow Cal’s up-tempo offense or get anything going when they had the ball.Goff, who threw for more than 3,500 yards as a freshman, was 21 of 34 with an interception.Trevor Davis caught a 76-yard touchdown. California racked up 414 yards to come away with the win after going 1-11 in coach Sonny Dykes’ first season.Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian, who shared the quarterback job with Colter the past two years, threw for 229 yards.Cameron Dickerson had a 54-yard touchdown reception, but the Wildcats came up short after making things interesting down the stretch. It started with that 25-second stretch late in the third, when Justin Jackson scored on a 7-yard run and Siemian hauled in a 17-yard pass off a flea-flicker from Jayme Taylor following an interception by Collin Ellis. That made it 31-21 with just over 2 minutes left in the third quarter. Until then, Northwestern got dominated.Cal asserted itself right from the start, going 79 yards for a touchdown on the game’s opening possession.Goff, who threw for 450 yards and two scores in last year’s loss to the Wildcats, hit Bryce Treggs on fourth down at the 1 to make it 7-0. And things just mounted from there.Northwestern was then threatening to score when Warren Long got stopped on fourth-and-1 at the Cal 22, and the Golden Bears responded with another touchdown.This time, Goff hit a leaping Kenny Lawler in the end zone for a 7-yarder that made it a 14-point game, and the Golden Bears continued to pour it on.Cal started its next possession early in the second quarter on the Northwestern 29 after a short punt out of the end zone by Chris Gradone off a bounced snap. That led to a 20-yard field goal by James Langford to bump the lead to 17-0.NU finally broke through when Siemian connected with Dickerson on a short slant for a 54-yard touchdown with 6:26 left in the half. But any thoughts of a rally got squashed on the next play from scrimmage, when Goff found an open Davis for a 76-yard touchdown, making it 24-7.

Irish open season with 48-17 rout of Rice as Golson sparkles in his return

SOUTH BEND—Everett Golson looked better after a year off than he ever did in helping Notre Dame get to the national championship two seasons ago.In his first game back after missing last season for academic impropriety, Golson threw touchdown passes of 75 and 53 yards and became just the third Notre Dame quarterback to run for three touchdowns in a game as the Irish beat Rice 48-17 on Saturday.

“Everett Golson was electric,” coach Brian Kelly said. ”He kept his eyes down field. He knew when to run. He knew when to throw it.”

Golson was 14-of-22 passing for 295 yards and ran for 41 yards on 12 carries. He threw the ball away on purpose three times and three other times Irish receivers dropped passes. His only big mistake was a pass early in the second quarter that Rice safety Gabe Baker should have intercepted but dropped.Golson said it was the type of comeback he envisioned while spending a semester away from Notre Dame.

”That’s what inspired me through all the training and all the days of me just working out by myself. I think that’s what helped me get through it,” he said.

Because of privacy laws, Notre Dame never disclosed why Golson was suspended from school. Golson said he used ”poor judgment on a test,” but never elaborated.Golson’s most exciting throw was a 75-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller that traveled nearly 60 yards in the air. Fuller was in a full sprint and wide open and needed to slow down to catch the pass near the 25-yard line. Fuller then made Rice safety Julius White miss as he raced into the end zone. It was the longest TD pass for Notre Dame since 2010.The 53-yard touchdown pass was a little better timed as Golson scrambled and threw a perfect pass to a wide-open C.J. Prosise in the end zone with 5 seconds left in the half, giving the Irish 28-10 lead. Golson was hit hard just after throwing the pass.Rice coach David Bailiff said Golson is amazing in his ability to extend plays.

”We left our corner on an island for too long and he got separation. Because that’s what great quarterbacks do,” Bailiff said.

Golson scored on an 11-yard run on a planned keeper, a 14-yard scramble and a 4-yard run on a blown handoff.Kelly said Golson had shown a lot of confidence in recent days.

”There’s a lot of things that he will tell you that he’s got to continue to improve on, but there’s a confidence that he carries with him that is starting to emanate, and that’s going to only get better and better as he gains more confidence,” Kelly said.

Driphus Jackson, making his second career start at quarterback for Rice, was 13 of 24 passing for 163 yards and one touchdown and the key interception.

”I’ve just got to be better managing the ball, and understand it’s OK to throw the ball away,” Jackson said. ”I don’t have to try and make plays all the time.”

Rice backup quarterback Tyler Stehling threw a 53 yard TD pass to James Mayden later.Notre Dame was playing without five players on its roster, including three starters. The group is being investigated for possible cheating. But the Irish haven’t let it affect them, Kelly said.

”They care about their teammates. That’s clear. But they also know that they are here at Notre Dame to get a degree and to play for Notre Dame and represent Notre Dame on the football field. So they have been really focused on their job and going out there. They have been really purposeful every single day.”

USA routs Finland in World Cup debut

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A quick look at Team USA’s 114-55 win over Finland in the opening game of the FIBA World Cup for the United States.What happened: A lot of destruction. Finland didn’t play terribly in the first quarter. They were a little amped with a massive home crowd behind them, and airballed a few shots, but overall, they managed to keep it respectable, trailing only 15.Then things got bad. Very, very quickly. In the second quarter, Team USA went on a 29-2 run. Yes, you read that right. The two points for Finland came on free throws. They did not score a field goal for the entire quarter. That was all she wrote. Finland played a bit better in the third quarter but still trailed by 50 after three.Klay Thompson led all scorers with 18, while Anthony Davis added 17, and Derrick Rose 12. DeMarcus Cousins finished with 10 rebounds and was very active in extended minutes.Finland’s guards were actually fairly effective, but between the presence of Anthony Davis deterring them and the pressure applied by the USA guards, there just weren’t any options. It’s a testament to the team’s defense that it clamped down as effectively as it did. James Harden was active and aggressive (no, really) and Davis (more on him later) was just a monster presence inside. But DeMarcus Cousins was also a huge muscle inside when Davis sat.You saw a lot of good things from Team USA, but the athleticism gap was still the largest problem for Finland. There will be some problems against better shooters and perimeter creators but Team USA can also play better than they did, which is scary since they won by nearly 60.
Three stars:
1. Anthony Davis (17 points, four rebounds) was the biggest impact player in this game. He had no blocked shots, but his presence inside kept sending Finland’s guards scurrying back out of the paint. Meanwhile offensively, he couldn’t be stopped. He had the mid-range jumper going and was bursting through two defenders with ease to get to the rim. Davis doesn’t looked like the most polished player on Team USA. But he did look like the most impactful.
2. James Harden (15 points, three rebounds, three assists) set the tone. Harden played with focus and intensity, creating steals at midcourt and getting to the rim, driving hard to create contact, and playing great defense. For a guy so maligned for his poor defensive work, it was great to see Harden sprinting to get to the shooter as he closed out. He was the most put-together player for the team, and it showed why he’s been singled out as a leader by coach Mike Krzyzewski.
3. Derrick Rose looked spry. He attacked and made plays. His defense was a little shaky and at points he would land and it looked like he was limping a bit, but then he’d turn around and make more plays. How Rose recovers will determine a lot about where he’s at, physically.
NOTES—Team USA faces Omer Asik and Turkey on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. CT. Turkey beat New Zealand 76-74 Saturday.

Lunt, Illini rally past stubborn Youngstown State 28-17

CHAMPAIGN—It took a while but new quarterback Wes Lunt delivered a come-from-behind 28-17 win Saturday for Illinois over Youngstown State in a season opener.Lunt threw three late touchdowns for Illinois. The second was a 15-yarder to running back Josh Ferguson that put Illinois up for good 21-17.Lunt finished the day 24 of 38 for 285 yards and four touchdowns. He used nine different receivers.Lunt’s highly anticipated debut after his transfer from Oklahoma State started slowly. The Illini had seven first downs by halftime and clung to a 7-6 lead.The Penguins took a 17-14 lead with 10:57 left in the game on a 2-yard Brian Ruiz touchdown and a 2-point conversion by quarterback Dante Nania.Ruiz finished with 32 carries for 116 yards and one touchdown. Nania was 11 of 24 for 177 yards.The game was hardly what Illinois wanted from its opener and the only FCS team on its schedule.The Illini defensive line struggled to control the line of scrimmage. The inexperienced group of receivers Lunt will rely on was tightly covered for much of the game. Illinois fumbled the ball three times, losing one. And then there were the penalties, seven of them for 55 yards.And Lunt, who hadn’t played a football game for more than a season, was occasionally rusty.But Illinois’ late salvation came on Lunt’s arm and two of those touchdowns.The first one required the kind of luck that might not come along too often.Leading 9-7 with 4:44 left in the third quarter, Youngstown needed less than a yard for a first down at the 50-yard line. The Penguins lined up to punt but punter Joey Cejudo rolled right on what looked like a fake. Apparently seeing no opening, the senior punter tried a low, rugby punt that hit a teammate in the back. The ball bounced back toward the goal line, rolling out of bounds at the Youngstown 35.The Illini had the break they needed.Lunt came out throwing, driving Illinois to the 8. From there he spotted freshman receiver Mikey Dudek running wide open in the right rear of the end zone for an easy touchdown, a lead and, finally, some relief.Illinois was up 14-9 with 13:58 to play, but only briefly.The Penguins struck back with a 61-yard pass from Nania to Andrew Williams. That set up a 2-yard touchdown plunge by Ruiz and a 2-point conversion by Nania that gave the Penguins a 17-14 edge.But Lunt went to work again, driving the Illini down the field before finding Ferguson in the end zone. Up 21-17, Illinois finally had a lead that would stick.

Ho Hum, Bears reserves fall to Browns 33-13–time now for REAL Football.

CLEVELAND—Brian Hoyer drove Cleveland’s starting offense to a rare preseason touchdown before turning things over to rookie Johnny Manziel in the Browns’ 33-13 exhibition win over the Bears on Thursday night.Hoyer and Cleveland’s offensive starters needed a boost after struggling in the preseason as they learn a new system. Hoyer went 6 of 8 for 69 yards on the opening drive against backups before Ben Tate scored on a 1-yard run.It was just the second TD for Cleveland’s first-team offense this summer and a confidence builder for Hoyer, who barely beat out Manziel for the starting job.Manziel threw a TD pass, finished 6 of 17 for 83 yards, ran for 55 and did some typical Johnny Football improvising.Bears wide receiver Santonio Holmes caught a 32-yard TD pass from rookie David Fales and returned a punt 30. Holmes only signed with the Bears on Aug. 16.Rookie running back Isaiah Crowell had a 48-yard TD and finished with 102 for the Browns (1-3). Billy Cundiff made four field goals.Browns coach Mike Pettine had little choice but to play his starters in the fourth preseason game following a horrific performance in a loss to St. Louis.Hoyer and Cleveland’s offense were desperate for a positive of any kind with the season opener against Pittsburgh just 10 days away. And although the early TD came against the Bears second- and third-stringers, the first unit’s 13-play, 85-yard march was something to build upon.On Wednesday, the Browns learned they’ll be without Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon, suspended for the season for another violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Cleveland loses its best player and only deep threat.The Browns could be forced to trade for a wide receiver. But Nate Burleson should help. He played for the first time in the preseason and caught a 27-yarder from Manziel, who was at his Johnny Football finest on the play in the second quarter.Manziel danced around in the backfield, dodging several Bears before throwing a strike to Burleson, who has been slowed by a hamstring injury. That play set up Manziel’s 1-yard toss to tight end Jim Dray.Bears coach Marc Trestman rested starting quarterback Jay Cutler and backup Jimmy Clausen, giving Fales, a sixth-round pick from San Jose State, a chance to convince the Bears they should carry three QBs.Fales made a good case for himself, finishing 13 of 24 for 146 yards.Holmes is trying to catch on with the Bears after four turbulent seasons with the Jets. He was released in March following two sub-par, injury-plagued seasons. The 2009 Super Bowl MVP with Pittsburgh hasn’t played a complete season since 2011, and made just 43 receptions in the past two seasons.Holmes, 30, showed he’s still got some breakaway speed on his TD grab. He hauled in a short pass from Fales, spun away from two Cleveland defenders, including rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert, and scampered into the end zone untouched for a 10-7 lead.Bears rookie running back Jordan Lynch, a star quarterback at Northern Illinois, had 18 yards on six carries. He’s a long shot to make the final 53-man roster.