With rookie Cedric Benson still a holdout, Thomas Jones was kept out of the contest to ensure he remains healthy. It was also to let the coaches find out more about Adrian Peterson, in the event they need to rely on him as their second string running back entering the season. Peterson (14/60, TD, 1- minus 2) led the other Bear backup running backs in stomping all over the Colts. Peterson displayed his usual punishing style to break tackles, and showed excellent vision finding holes. Zack Abron added 50 yards and Antoineo Harris another 42 and a late touchdown run to put the game on ice.
Bobby Wade (2-14) finally showed why he was one of college's best punt returners at Arizona. Wade made several people miss on his way to returning a punt 54 yards for a touchdown. Mark Bradley (3-49) continues to look like the Bears' best receiver outside of Muhsin Muhammad (3-38). He made two excellent catches along the sideline. Roberto Garza started at center for Olin Kreutz (illness) and was a key in opening holes for Peterson. Place kicker Doug Brien drilled a 50-yard field goal in the beginning of the third quarter.
The Bears' starting defense passed a big test, limiting Edgerrin James to four yards on six carries. Peyton Manning (8-13-80, TD) was continually harassed by the Bears' front four. Adewale Ogunleye was especially disruptive, continually spending time in the Colt's backfield. He and Tommie Harris stripped James for fumbles the defense was able to recover. The tackles stood out nearly the entire game. Alfonso Boone, Ian Scott, Tommie Harris, and Tank Johnson were constantly creating a push up the middle. Scott and Boone registered sacks. Tank Johnson's quickness off the ball was present on a play where he beat the guard to his inside to get to the quarterback. Alain Kashama and NFL Europe standout Greg White had sacks late in the contest. Jerrell Pippens (7 tackles, PD) had a solid game as nickel back and Marcus Reese (5 tackles) had one of his best showings with the reserve linebackers.
The injury bug bit again. Backup safety Bobby Gray suffered an ugly knee injury when he was blocked below the waist. Marcus Reese re-injured his shoulder. The Bears have a lot of depth at safety. Chris Harris and Todd Johnson put some good hits on people, but both of them need to do a better job of wrapping up. Ron Turner's offense was held under 300 total yards against the Colts, who were missing several of their starters and aren't known for their defense. The focus was on running the ball, which worked well. However, the recent loss of Rex Grossman screams for more repetitions needed in the passing game. Under Chad Hutchinson, the starters were clearly lacking a sense of timing when it came to passing. Speaking of needing more reps, Justin Gage caught his first preseason pass. It was his only one of the day. Free agent acquisition Fred Miller (starting right tackle) had a difficult day in pass protection and committed a penalty.
Chad Hutchinson (5-8-40, 2 Int) was painful to watch. His windup, delivery, and constant patting of the ball made for some especially poor passes from a timing perspective. His decision-making wasn't good, either. His first interception was thrown into a crowd of defenders. On top of all that, his accuracy and pocket awareness left a lot to be desired. He was too high on several passes, and threw behind his receivers in the flat. He looked like a career backup, an anointed starter by attrition. Bear fans were hoping to see someone stepping up and breaking through. It was a stark contrast to Kyle Orton (6-10-67, Fumble), who's performance and poise look more and more like a future starting quarterback working off the green from behind his ears.
Qasim Mitchell is doing everything he can to miss the final roster cuts. Whether it's missing snap counts or blocking assignments, his number is getting called too often for all the wrong reasons. Mitchell played right guard on Saturday. He's likely to be battling for a roster spot with quiet and steady Steve Edwards, who is counted out every year only to wind up playing most of the season at one of the guard positions.
The Bears have two more preseason games to sort out their quarterback situation. They'll next face a stiff challenge against Buffalo's defense and the rejuvenated ground game.