Bears-Colts: Chicago Spoils Indy's Stadium Opener
It wasn't quite Super Bowl XLI, but the Bears/Colts matchup in the 2008 season opener for both teams was quite the opposite from what we saw on that early February night.
Indianapolis unveiled their brand new Lucas Oil Stadium, but the game didn't go as expected for Tony Dungy's crew, as the Bears pulled off a 29-13 victory.
The Bears' running game, nearly non-existent for the last few years, was back, with rookie Matt Forte in the backfield. Forte became the first rookie running back since Walter Payton in 1975 to start a regular-season game for the Bears.
And Forte wasted no time in backing up what the Bears have told us all preseason, by breaking a 50-yard run in the first quarter for a touchdown. He finished the game with 123 yards on 23 attempts and a touchdown.
The Bears' game of quarterback roulette landed on Kyle Orton this year, and Orton lived up to his reputation of "managing" the game well. He completed 13 passes on 21 attempts, with no touchdowns or interceptions.
But maybe even a bigger surprise than Forte's performance was that of the offensive line. Criticized by fans and "experts" last year, the holes were aplenty for young Forte and backup Kevin Jones.
The defense was as good as they said they would be, at least for one night. With a healthy unit for the first time since the opening quarter of last year's season opener, Peyton Manning and company had few answers for Bob Babich's guys, holding Manning to 257 yards on a whopping 49 attempts. Joseph Addai picked up just 44 yards on 12 carries.
Manning, playing in his first game since last year's playoffs, looked uncomfortable all night and didn't seem to find many answers as the game went on. The Colts entered the red zone a few times, but they had to settle for two field goals, which gave Chicago momentum and took the crowd out of the game.
The play of the game may have come from the defense, when Charles Tillman forced a fumble by Marvin Harrison, which was recovered and run back for a touchdown by Lance Briggs.
The Colts' offensive struggles shouldn't continue much longer, at least not with the offensive threats they have, but the defense for Indy needs to play better if they are going to compete at the level of past years. If they struggled against a Bears offense that hasn't had much to brag about the past few years, how will they match up against the strength of the AFC's best.
The Bears executed very well, at least for one night. It remains to be seen if this team, expected by many to finish well below .500, can keep up this play for an entire season. But the promising showing by the rookie running back from Tulane, and the play from backup-starter-backup now starting quarterback from Purdue, are good signs for Bears fans.
Talk around Chicago will be upbeat when talking about the Bears, at least until next Sunday.
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