Chicago overcame another mistake-prone outing by its starting quarterback, scoring 17 straight points in the first half and 10 more after the break as the Bears beat the Colts 27-24 Monday night, Indy's first home game since winning the Super Bowl.
But this wasn't merely about a win or a loss.
For Grossman, it was another opportunity to prove critics wrong, but all his frustrating adventure did was provide more fuel for his doubters.
In 26 plays, he fumbled three times, double-clutched another snap, threw an interception deep in Chicago territory and was sacked once. Even his one good moment, a 1-yard touchdown run, came with an unusual twist: he carried two times for minus-1 yard on the drive.
During a sideline interview, Grossman blamed the fumbled snaps on a miscommunication and said the ball hit a sweaty spot. He didn't even try to explain away the other fumble, which came when Robert Mathis swatted the ball away as he sacked Grossman.
Grossman finished 9-of-11 for 59 yards and had a sub-par passer rating of 51.1.
In contrast, Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning looked like his usually efficient self – albeit briefly. He finished 5-of-8 for 97 yards and led the Colts to one touchdown in 16 plays, numbers that would have been better if not for a couple of drops.
Colts running back Joseph Addai carried seven times for 24 yards and scored on a 4-yard touchdown run to open the second quarter, a play that looked like his winning score against New England in last season's AFC championship game.
Cedric Benson, Chicago's new starter, ran 10 times for 24 yards.
Billed as a Super Bowl rematch, the game provided a few similarities to February's title game.
Danieal Manning set up Chicago's first score, a 32-yard field goal, with a 72-yard kickoff return that rekindled images of Devin Hester's kickoff return for a TD on the opening play of the Super Bowl. Hester struck on the next kick, returning Hunter Smith's punt 50 yards before getting tripped up at the Colts 24. Two plays after Grossman fumbled the snap on the 1, he hung on long enough on the quarterback keeper to score to make it 10-7.
The Colts found themselves in another jam when T.J. Rushing fumbled the ensuing kickoff as he went down at the Indy 24. Mike Hass recovered for the Bears, and four plays later, Brian Griese hooked up with Bernard Berrian on a nifty 9-yard TD pass that gave Chicago a 17-7 lead.
Then it started to look more like a preseason game, at least in terms of the names.
With Manning and Co. on the bench, Jim Sorgi – who didn't play in the Super Bowl – led the Colts on a 69-yard drive late in the half, finding Aaron Moorehead for a 9-yard TD pass to make it 17-14. Sorgi managed the clock perfectly on the last series of the half, getting the Colts in position for a 36-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri as time expired.
Chicago quickly took control in the second half.
That was all Chicago's usually tough defense needed against the Colts' backups.
Indy did manage a late score, getting a 4-yard TD pass from Josh Betts to Craphonso Thorpe. But for the Colts, it was a familiar result. They have lost three straight preseason games, including both this season, and 11 of 12 overall.
The Bears have won both of their preseason games this season, matching their victory total from last year. Both wins have come on the road.
Chicago receiver Brandon Rideau left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury and didn't return.
Sorgi finished 11-of-18 for 107 yards. Griese was 10-of-17 for 131 yards and a touchdown.