Chicago Bears: 2012 Week 1 coverage

Amid turnovers and loss, promise in Luck

September, 9, 2012
CHICAGO -- Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck may someday think back on his NFL debut and joyfully recall his first play, his first completion, his first touchdown and all the other firsts of his career.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck
David Banks/Getty ImagesAndrew Luck passed for 309 yards yards but threw three interceptions in his NFL debut on Sunday.
But on Sunday and likely for the near future, Luck isn’t going to smile when he remembers his first NFL experiences. All he can think about now is how his debut was marred by three interceptions, a fumble and a 41-21 loss to Chicago Bears.

“When you’re responsible for four turnovers, it’s hard to win, it’s hard to be productive as an offense,” said Luck, the No. 1 pick of the 2012 draft. “Three picks and a fumble for me, those are killers. Not too many fond memories of an opening loss.”

Luck couldn’t help but be narrow-minded when it came to his individual play. All he could see was the bad -- the turnovers and loss -- but his teammates, opponents and both head coaches saw the whole picture, which they believe included some good, too.

To go with his three interceptions and a fumble, Luck completed 23-of-45 passes for 309 yards and a touchdown, guided the Colts into the red zone four times against an experienced Bears’ defense and was noticeably more comfortable as the game progressed.

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Cutler's cure for early woes? Keep throwing

September, 9, 2012
CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler tilted his head to the side, and uttered two words to describe his method for breaking out of a 1-of-10 passing debacle early Sunday to light up the Indianapolis Colts for 333 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-21 victory.

[+] EnlargeJay Cutler
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesJay Cutler passed for 333 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts.
“Keep throwing,” he said.

That’s precisely what the Cutler did to overcome a mistake-riddled first quarter in which he handed the visitors a 7-0 lead by throwing an interception on a pass intended for Matt Forte that was returned by Jerrell Freeman for a 4-yard touchdown.

Freeman’s score punctuated an already shoddy start by Cutler and the Bears’ offense. Cutler suffered a sack on Chicago’s first play from scrimmage and threw incomplete to Alshon Jeffery on the second snap. Cutler’s third dropback resulted in the INT returned for the TD by Freeman.

Cutler responded to that by throwing incomplete on five of his next six attempts.

By the end of the first quarter, Cutler had completed 3 of 12 for 21 yards and a passer rating of 4.9.

“We started off slow,” Cutler said. “I think that was a little bit of a concern on my part. My feet were all over the place. (I was) missing balls.”

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Rapid Reaction: Bears 41, Colts 21

September, 9, 2012

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears unleashed the explosive offense they discussed all offseason in demolishing the Indianapolis Colts 41-21 in Mike Tice’s first official game as the club’s new playcaller.

While the unit looked shaky early on, it’s not out of the question to say that with some seasoning the Bears could develop into arguably the most dangerous offense in the NFC North with all the weapons the team has acquired to put around quarterback Jay Cutler.

Cutler shook off a 1-for-10 start to throw for 333 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 42-yard bomb to rookie Alshon Jeffery in the fourth quarter to put the exclamation point on an explosive Bears performance that also featured running backs Matt Forte and Michael Bush combining for 122 yards and three more TDs.

Here’s a closer look:

What it means: The Bears needed to start off with a victory because they face the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night. Minnesota and Detroit started off their seasons with victories, so it was important for the Bears to do the same to keep pace in a division that will be one of the league’s most competitive in 2012.

Shaky start: Cutler dramatically improved as the first half progressed, but the Bears know he can’t get off to such a slow start again Thursday night. Cutler completed only one of his first 10 passes, and threw an interception returned for a touchdown by Jerrell Freeman that gave the Colts an early advantage at the 11:23 mark of the first quarter. Cutler’s passer rating after 13 attempts was 0, and he finished the first quarter with a passer rating of 4.9 after completing 3-of-10 for 21 yards. Once Cutler stopped forcing passes to Marshall and the offensive line settled in, the quarterback finished the first half completing 15-of-27 for 228 yards and a touchdown and a passer rating of 80.5.

Andrew Luck makes history: Well, not really, but sort of. Luck starting against Chicago marked just the second time the Bears faced a starting quarterback making his NFL debut. The last time it happened, the Bears matched up against Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Scott Tinsley, who was playing his first NFL game during the 1987 strike season. Chicago smashed the Eagles 35-3 in that outing in front of 4,074 fans as Tinsley completed 7-of-22 passes for 65 yards. The Bears sacked Tinsley’s backup, Guido Merkins, 10 times. Obviously, Luck fared a little better by hitting on 23-of-45 for 309 yards and a TD.

Cutler milestone: Cutler’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall with 5:52 remaining in the second quarter moved the quarterback into sole possession of fourth place in franchise history in career TD passes. Cutler came into the game tied with Ed Brown and Erik Kramer for fourth with 63 TD tosses. Cutler finished the game with 333 yards and two touchdown passes. But Cutler still has plenty of work to do to catch franchise leader Sid Luckman (137 career TD passes).

Forte moves past Sayers: Forte entered the matchup with the Colts needing 46 yards from scrimmage to move past Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers for fourth most yards from scrimmage in franchise history. Forte passed Sayers in the first quarter when he gained 47 of Chicago’s 61 yards on two plays during one of the club’s two first-quarter scoring drives. Forte entered the game with 6,218 yards from scrimmage in 60 outings. Sayers had gained 6,263 yards from scrimmage in 68 games. Forte also became just the third player in Bears history to gain 4,000 career rushing yards and 2,000 receiving. Forte come into the game with 1,985 yards receiving and caught two passes for 32 yards in the first half to move into select company with Walter Payton and Neal Anderson, who rushed for 6,166 yards and gained 2,763 yards receiving during his career.

What’s next: The Bears face a short turnaround going into Thursday night’s matchup on the road against the Packers. So they’ll return to the practice field to work on Monday and Tuesday before using Wednesday as a travel day.