Dress Rehearsal Gone Bad

INDIANAPOLIS - Chad Hutchinson had two safety nets working for him in his debut as Bears starting quarterback Saturday night. One was his defense and the other was the punt return unit, led by Bobby Wade.

In his first start as injured Rex Grossman's replacement, Hutchinson struggled against an Indianapolis Colts pass rush which produced four first-half sacks, and threw two interceptions to middle linebacker Gary Brackett but the Bears emerged with a 24-17 victory.

"Not good," Hutchinson said, summing up his 5-of-8 passing effort, which produced 40 yards and anemic passer rating of 35.4. "But I'm going to look at the film a couple days, get better, learn and it can only really go up from here.

"So, that's the positive part."

Adrian Peterson's 60 yards rushing as a starter in place of Thomas Jones, and a dominant defense made it possible for the Bears to take an early 17-7 lead.

"On the offensive side of the football, we can't turn the ball over," coach Lovie Smith said. "We have to win the turnover ratio each week.

"We had the ball on the ground and we had the two interceptions early. We didn't play as well as we need to on the offensive side of the football."

Hutchinson had little time to set up in the pocket as the Bears' offensive line looked its worst of preseason, but played without ill starting center Olin Kreutz. Roberto Garza, a guard by trade, replaced Kreutz in the starting lineup.

The Colts sacked Hutchinson on the Bears' third possession. On a third-and-eight play, he fumbled and the Bears retained possession for a punt. On his final series, Hutchinson got sacked twice in three plays to force a punt.

Hutchinson's problems weren't all his line's doing. The Bears' first possession of the game ended when the former baseball pitcher threw a high hard one that Muhsin Muhammad couldn't handle. It bounced up into the air and into Brackett's hands and the Colts' 35.

With 2:53 left in the first quarter, Hutchinson threw a second-and-nine pass over the middle to tight end Desmond Clark but it went right to Brackett for an interception.

"The good part is it's the preseason and I've got some games left to get better," Hutchinson added.

Despite problems by Hutchinson and the offensive line, the first team left the field with a 14-7 lead due largely to defense and special teams.

Bobby Wade returned a punt 54 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Chicago lead with 10:19 left in the first quarter.

"Special teams-wise I was really pleased with what we were able to do -- the return game," Smith said.

Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris stripped Edgerrin James of the ball and Brian Urlacher recovered at the Colts' 32 three plays before the end of the first quarter to set up an Adrian Peterson 4-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 Bears lead.

The first-team defense dominated Indianapolis' high-powered first-team offense early, holding Peyton Manning to 25 passing yards on 4-of-7 attempts in the first quarter and the Colts to one first-quarter first down.

They forced a punt after Brackett's first interception, and Adewale Ogunleye forced another James fumble that Charles Tillman recovered at the Bears' 34 late in the first quarter.

The Colts' first-team offense scored only after Urlacher committed a blunder on an overthrown incomplete third-and-19 pass from Manning to Dallas Clark. Urlacher decked Clark after the ball went past for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that gave Manning the ball at the Bears' 37 and set up a 25-yard TD pass to Dominic Rhodes.

"We've had glimpses of (great play), but we gave up a cheap touchdown there at the end (of the first-team's playing time)," Smith said. "Great defenses cant do that. We still have a ways to go."

The Bears' defense managed only one first-half sack but was in the face of Manning and backup Jim Sorgi repeatedly.

"It was amazing to be able to do that, to get that kind of pressure on the best offense in the league," Ogunleye said. "And to do that with no blitzing. We didn't blitz at all during the game."

The Bears' offensive line problems continued with rookie quarterback Kyle Orton on the field in the late second and third quarters. Orton, who finished 6-of-10 passing for 67 yards, lost a fumble on a sack and gave the Colts the ball at the Bears' 12. It allowed James Mungro the chance to tie the score at 17-17 with a 1-yard TD dive with 3:42 left in the third quarter.

Former Illinois running back Antoineo Harris bulled in from the 1-yard line with 13:05 left in the fourth quarter for a 24-17 Bears lead.

The Colts had battled back from a 17-7 deficit in the third quarter. Doug Brien had hit a 50-yard field goal for the Bears with 9:52 left in the third quarter for the 10-point lead, but Mike Vanderjagt countered with a 45-yard field goal for the Colts with 4:53 left in the quarter.

New Bears quarterback Jeff Blake saw action late in the fourth quarter after quarterback Kurt Kittner had also played. Kittner was 3-of-3 for 22 yards and Blake 0-for-1.

Bear Report Top Stories