9:08 AM PDT, September 9, 2012
CHICAGO - A new era began with abundant sunshine and October-like temperatures.
It was a picture-perfect day that greeted the beginning of Andrew Luck's National Football League career and the start of the Chuck Pagano segment of Colts football.
Across from them was the opposite, the Chicago Bears. With their injury drama of Brian Urlacher behind them, the "Monsters of the Midway" were looking to take their current era of football to the next level.
But in the end it was the Bears who looked more Super Bowl worthy than the Colts an upstart contender, beating Indianapolis 41-21 at Soldier Field.
In his debut, Luck was 23-of-45 for 309 yards with a touchdown but was intercepted three times and fumbled once.
"I think trying to take a lot of learning experiences out of it," said Luck of his first game. "When you’re responsible for four turnovers, it’s hard to win, it’s hard to be productive as an offense.
"Three picks and a fumble for me, those are killers."
The Colts fall to 0-1 on the season and lose their opener for the third consecutive season while the Bears offense lived up to their solid pre-season billing. Quarterback Jay Cutler was 21-of-35 for 333 yards and two touchdown with an interception.
"Credit to Chicago, they played extremely well today," said Pagano. "We certainly can't come in and shoot ourselves in the foot and have five turnovers and have those kinds of things happen to us.
"Obviously bright spots our out there.
The biggest was from the defense and ironically it was on a turnover. Early in the first quarter Jerrell Freeman picked off a Cutler pass and returned it a quick four-yards for the score to make it 17-0.
After that, Cutler got the Bears offense into rhythm. Led by over 50 yards rushing by Matt Forte, the Bears tied the score on the next possession thanks to a one-yard touchdown run by Michael Bush. Another long catch by Forte led to a Cutler touchdown pass to Marshall from three-yards out to make it 14-7.
Cutler was connecting on a number of occasions in the second quarter and got the Bears a field goal to push the lead to 17-7.
That's when the Colts made a quick charge behind their own running back Donald Brown, who had two long rushes including one for a touchdown to make it 17-14. The Bears responded again late in the half, getting another Bush touchdown to push the lead to 10.
Things didn't get any better for the Colts in the second half who watched the Bears march down the field and scored on a six-yard Forte touchdown run. On the ensuing kickoff, returner Levon Brazil has the ball knocked out of his hands and it was recovered by former Colts defensive back Kelvin Hayden.
Gould added his second field goal of the day to make it 34-14 Chicago.
"We had a few opportunites and gave up a few big plays and then they scored the touchdown on us, it made it tough," said Pagano of the early second half stretch. "But the guys hung in there and kept fighting."
Luck finally got his first touchdown pass of his career in the fourth quarter on a quick out to Donnie Avery from five yards out. I didn't translate into a rally as the Bears scored on the next possession when Cutler hit Alshon Jeffery with a 42-yard touchdown pass.
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