The Bears had their Chances Against the Colts

CHICAGO _ Lance Briggs didn't take the easy out or make the easy catch. <P> After Sunday's 41-10 loss to Indianapolis, the Bears' weak side linebacker was asked what effect the interception and near-certain touchdown return he dropped during the first quarter might have had on the game.

His easy retort would have been that the score would have been 41-17. Briggs had a different opinion.

"It was probably big," Briggs said. "It was probably big. It's just that as an emotional team, you make a big play and everybody rallies around it. It could have been a spark.

"Sometimes that's what you need. A lot of times that's what you need is maybe a spark."

Briggs had guessed right on a short pass to the wide side of the field. He jumped a route to wide receiver Marvin Harrison and had the pass in his hands with no one in front of him, but bobbled it several times before dropping it.

"I made a good read, made a break on it, had it in my hands and I was thinking touchdown and couldn't hold on to it."

The Colts then scored a touchdown on that drive.

After a Paul Edinger 51-yard field goal, the Bears had one other big play slip away. Colts kick returner Dominic Rhodes fumbled after a hit by Adrian Peterson, and the ball popped free along the sidelines in front of Bears safety Todd Johnson, who had open sidelines ahead of him, and at the very least, could have given the Bears the ball in field goal range.

Johnson bobbled it as he leaned for ward to pick it up and run and lost it out of bounds, so the Colts retained possession.

"It was a game where we had some opportunities early, we missed some plays and from there it snowballed," Bears coach Lovie Smith said.

Big talk by the Bears' defense definitely found its way to the Colts.

Colts offensive line coach Howard Mudd posted the quote Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris made that the Bears had the best defensive line in football on the Colts' locker room bulletin board. Also posted was a comment by Bears linebacker Lance Briggs guaranteeing victory.

"Sometimes, I know you have a bad day at work and we had a bad day at work also," Harris told reporters after the loss. "I still feel that we're one of the best or the best in the NFL, but I feel that we have another chance. We have six more games to redeem ourselves."

Briggs said he heard what the Colts thought of his guarantee of victory from former college teammate Makoa Freitas after the game.

"I don't regret that at all," he said. "The words were put in my mouth, which is fine and dandy. If the question was presented again, I'd say the same thing."

Smith didn't mind the comments even after the loss.

"I like our players being confident is what I like," Smith said. "Tommie Harris is playing good football. He's an honest guy and I guess that's what he thought. I would like for the guys to say what they feel and then kind of back it up from there."

The problem Sunday was the backing up part.

Edgerrin James' 204 rushing yards were the third-most ever given up by the Bears and the most since Ricky Williams had 216 against them Dec. 9, 2002. It gave him 1,081 yards on the year.

The Colts' running attack did this with both starting guards on the bench and rookies replacing them.

"We couldn't tackle or we made mistakes," Briggs said. "It was the same thing in all the games we lost this year, it was the same story.

"We weren't in our gaps and we weren't making tackles."

Wide receiver Bobby Wade suffered a right shoulder sprain while guard Ruben Brown had a shoulder stinger. Neither injury was regarded as serious and both players came back to the field. . . . Edinger's 51-yard field goal was his 12th over 50 yards, leaving him four short of Bears record holder Kevin Butler. . . . Tackle Marc Colombo saw his first action with the offense since his November, 2002 knee injury and got flagged for holding to negate David Terrell's first touchdown pass of the year. . . . It was the fourth straight game Peyton Manning has thrown four TD passes.

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