|Bears Run All Over Colts In Opener|
|Written by mark|
|Monday, 08 September 2008 05:56|
Chicago's old formula got a new look Sunday night.
It still works.
The Chicago Bears relied on a strong running game to control the clock, scored on a turnover and took advantage of an Indianapolis offense that was out of sync, beating the Indianapolis Colts 29-13 in the first regular-season game at the new Lucas Oil Stadium.
``We've always been a running football team,'' Kyle Orton said. ``Any time you can do that, control the ball, you're going to have a good game. That's how we play football.''
While the strategy wasn't good enough to win the Super Bowl 19 months ago against Indy, the Bears' new starters executed the game plan to perfection this time.
Matt Forte, the first Chicago rookie to start at running back since Walter Payton in 1975, ran 23 times for 123 yards - 50 on a first-quarter TD run in which he broke a tackle and then outran Bob Sanders, last season's defensive player of the year, to the end zone.
Orton, who wrested the starting quarterback job from Rex Grossman, was 13-of-21 for 150 yards and had no turnovers.
The win ended Indy's remarkable streak of 21 consecutive victories in September and October, the NFL's longest pre-November streak since the Green Bay Packers won 23 in a row from 1928-32. It's the first time since 2004 that Indy won't start at least 7-0.
``It's sickening,'' Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning said. ``First game new stadium, fifteenth game of the season - same stadium. It's really disappointing to lose.''
But the Colts, and especially Manning working behind three new starters on the offensive line, weren't themselves Sunday. Losing tight end Dallas Clark with a knee injury in the first half and Joseph Addai with a head injury in the fourth quarter, didn't help, either.
The two-time league MVP burned timeouts to avoid penalties and didn't have his usually precise timing down with receivers. It was Manning's first game action since he had surgery to remove an infected bursa sac from his left knee in mid-July.
Other pieces weren't quite right, either.
The Colts defense, which allowed the fewest points in the NFL last season, allowed the Bears (1-0) to convert 10-of-16 third-down chances and couldn't get off the field.
Colts coach Tony Dungy lost both replay challenges - one on a safety when Addai was trapped in the end zone and the other when Marvin Harrison fumbled and Lance Briggs returned it for a touchdown.
The combination led to a predictable result.
``We had a couple of balls that we couldn't catch, we had a ball on the ground we couldn't get and they stripped one out and ran it back for a touchdown,'' Dungy said. ``It's been a long time since we've been beaten like that.''
Chicago's defense lived up to its reputation by limiting the Colts (0-1) to 53 yards rushing and forcing Manning to win it with his arm.
Manning finished 30-of-49 for 257 yards with one TD but had trouble connecting with receivers down the field and settled for field goals instead of touchdowns on the Colts' first two trips inside the Chicago 20.
The Bears couldn't have scripted it any better.
``It's kind of our mantra, attack up front,'' defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek said. ``We wanted to establish a new line of scrimmage, stop the run, put pressure on Manning. Everyone was flying around all over the place.''
Forte got things started by erasing the Colts' 3-0 lead with his TD burst.
But the Colts nearly recovered in the second half, after trailing 15-6 at halftime.
Devin Hester took the second half kickoff about 7 yards deep in the end zone, then waited a few seconds before coming out and getting tackled at the Bears 3.
When the Colts got the ball back in good field position, Manning converted with a 6-yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne, making it 15-13 with 9:18 left in the third quarter.
The Bears answered with - what else? - defense.
Charles Tillman slapped the ball away from Harrison at the Colts 21, and Briggs scooped it up on a bounce and rumbled 21 yards into the end zone. And after a fourth-down stop near midfield, Jason McKie closed it out with a 1-yard scoring plunge.
``In the Super Bowl, they ran all over us,'' Brian Urlacher said. ``We wanted to take away the run and make them pass. We have a good pass rush.''
Notes: Indy's last September loss came Sept. 9, 2004 at New England. ... The Colts opened the retractable roof and the sliding glass window before the game. ... NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who attended the game, called the stadium ``spectacular.'' ... No Bears receiver caught more than three passes. ... Wayne and Harrison combined for 18 catches and 162 yards.
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