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posted: 9/9/2012 7:34 PM

As advertised, Bears offense carries the day

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  • After a slow start, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler finished with 333 yards passing in Sunday's victory over the Colts.

      After a slow start, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler finished with 333 yards passing in Sunday's victory over the Colts.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 

There are no bad wins in the NFL.

Only bad losses.

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Any victory is a good one. You win the games you're expected to win, and at the end of the season you get to play bonus games with a chance in the tourney to capture the big prize.

So the Bears did just what they were supposed to do Sunday, win a game against a weak opponent with a rookie quarterback who has a lot of ability -- but even more to learn.

The home team started predictably slow in a new offense with a shaky offensive line, but the Bears got it together quickly and coasted to a 41-21 victory over Andrew Luck's Colts at Soldier Field.

That does not, however, mean there wasn't plenty to be concerned about after a blowout victory against a team the Bears were supposed to blow out.

"We left a lot of plays out there, especially in the running game," said veteran center Roberto Garza. "We have to get better with our technique. We have to get better with our adjustments. We have to get better."

The offense was just about what you figured it would be, very potent and able to move at will behind Jay Cutler (333 yards passing), Brandon Marshall (9 catches for 119 yards) and Matt Forte (120 combined yards), while also susceptible to pressure because of an unconvincing offensive line.

Cutler's best work often came when he was flushed from the pocket and running for his life, searching for his pal Marshall, whom he targeting 15 times, or 9 more than any other receiver.

"It was really good. We took what they gave us," Marshall said. "It's going to take a lot of hard work, but we're going to get a lot better. We left a lot of plays out there today. And the start wasn't what we wanted."

Yeah, the start. Cutler was sacked on the first play. There was a penalty before the second. He ran from danger on the third after a bad snap and threw a poor pass incomplete.

The fourth was Cutler's first completion of the season, a perfect throw to Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman, who walked 4 yards into the end zone for a 7-0 Indianapolis lead.

"I would have rather started out hot and continued hot," Cutler said. "But it's never a bad thing when you're able to overcome it."

On the next possession, it didn't look much better when he was hit hard on second down. But on third-and-10, Cutler again escaped the rush and found Marshall on the run for 13 yards and a first down.

After an incomplete pass on the next play, Forte slid around left end for 32 yards and the Bears never looked back. The drive went 80 yards to tie the game, the team settled down and it was a cakewalk from there.

"I expected it to be like that, with a lot of first-game jitters," Forte said of the sluggish start. "It's a work in progress, but we can score a lot of points. And we left a lot of plays out there."

Yes, that was theme for the offense. Rough start, got it rolling, put up 428 yards and missed on several plays that would have easily put the Bears over 50 points in the first real action of the season.

"If they keep doing that, if our offense keeps doing that," said Brian Urlacher with a smile, "we're going to be pretty good."

That is hardly a surprise considering the collection of offensive talent, but the defense wasn't particularly sharp against a rookie QB until the offense secured a big lead.

"We did some good things," said Julius Peppers. "We did some not-so-good things. It's one game. We won't get too high. Short week. Green Bay up next."

One can imagine what an angry Aaron Rodgers will try to do to a Bears defense probably missing Charles Tillman (leg injury) and with Urlacher at far less than 100 percent.

Luck managed to go 23 of 45 for 309 yards, with a TD, 3 interceptions and a 52.9 QB rating, eerily similar to Peyton Manning's first career game, when he was 21 of 37 for 302 yards, with a TD, 3 picks and a 58.6 rating.

"It was a learning experience," Luck said. "Three picks and a fumble for me. Hard to win when you do that."

It was the Colts' misfortune that they got the Bears in Game 1, and the Bears' good luck that they got a rookie QB while working through some of their own issues.

But as openers go, the Bears will take a lot of confidence out of this game, knowing they can be much better on both sides of the ball, which is a scary thought for NFC teams.

It remains to be seen whether they can improve significantly on defense, but with more reps they should get considerably better on offense.

Just wait until they stop leaving plays out on the field.

brozner@dailyherald.com

•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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