Kyle Orton, making his first start – and taking his first snap in a regular-season game in two years – finally shook off the rust late in Monday night's loss to the Vikings, but it wasn't enough to make up for a mostly ineffective performance in a 20-13 loss.
Orton completed four of five passes for 38 yards, but the drive stalled at the Vikings' 39 when he was called for intentional grounding on a 3rd-and-9 play, which was typical of an offensive performance by him and the offense as a whole that was too conservative and too inconsistent.
The third quarterback wasn't a charm for the Bears, as Orton struggled to complete anything other than short flips to running back Adrian Peterson, who caught seven of his first 13 completions but for only 33 yards.
Orton completed 22 of 38 passes for 184 yards, and although offensive coordinator Ron Turner said immediately after the game that he would remain the Bears' starter, head coach Lovie Smith hedged on that Tuesday afternoon.
"We're deciding on all of our positions on who's going to start," Smith said when asked specifically about Orton starting Sunday against the Packers. "But some of the positive things that Kyle did ... for his first game to play, it's a tough environment [at the Metrodome]. I thought he made a lot of good decisions as far as checking the ball down. We didn't have a lot of turnovers, and in a situation like that you want to play just good steady ball and not lose the game making some bad plays. Kyle missed some passes we would like to have back, but I thought for the most part he played and we played as an offense as a whole OK but not good enough to win."
Orton's only interception came on his final play, a desperation heave into the end zone that was stolen by Darren Sharper with 1:38 remaining.
QB Kyle Orton
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
"I didn't throw it far enough," said Orton, who finished with a 59.5 passer rating and declined to cite any positives in his return. "We lost the game, so I don't think there are any positives. I felt comfortable. We just didn't make enough plays, and I put that on me."
Nevertheless, Orton's performance seemed to be more than enough to earn the final two starts based on Turner's and Smith's postgame comments.
"He showed great poise in a hostile environment," Turner said. "We as a team didn't give him an opportunity to have success."
Smith also seemed satisfied.
"I thought he did a decent job up until that last pass," he said.
Conventional wisdom says Orton will be under center when the Packers come to Soldier Field. Smith's wishy-washy endorsement Tuesday is more than likely the latest ploy in the silly gamesmanship that the entire organization has grown fond of this season. Backup Brian Griese has shown that he's exactly that – a decent backup. And Rex Grossman is not capable of playing with a sprained MCL, even though the Bears will probably continue to list him as "doubtful" or maybe even "questionable," another one of the tactics they use to – supposedly – keep opponents guessing.
As if it matters to the Packers who the Bears start at quarterback.
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