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Thursday, February 22

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Bears Mon Sep 10 2012

Bears Handle Colts in Season Opener

Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngThe most exciting fact for the Bears after yesterday's games should be how their division rivals played. Sure, the Bears looked dominant at times during a 41-21 trouncing of the visiting Indianapolis Colts, but that outcome was anticipated.

What they didn't expect to see was the division rival Packers losing at home to the 49ers - a team that many prognosticators believed would regress from their NFC Championship appearance last season (though the 49ers look like the real deal to me). They also didn't expect to see the wild-card Lions barely escaping a home meeting with the hapless Rams on a late touchdown, or the Vikings (with nobody expecting them to be good) needing overtime to beat a five-win Jaguars team.

The outcome could've ended up a whole lot different if the sequence of events that took place during the first two offensive series continued throughout the game. A sack on a missed block by Kellen Davis, a false start by Gabe Carimi, a short run by Matt Forte on 2nd and 24, and a shotgun snap that rolled to Jay Cutler on third down made for an awful first drive. But it was nothing compared to the ill-advised throw Cutler made to start the second possession that ended up being a pick six.

Thankfully football games last longer than five minutes. The offensive line settled into a groove we haven't seen in quite some time (partially because of All Pro Dwight Freeney making an early exit), and the Bears offense looked nearly as potent as the one employed by their neighbors from the North from previous seasons thanks to fresh faces brought in during the offseason, combined with smart play calling.

Brandon Marshall had the type of monstrous game that Bears fans have dreamed about for years. Despite two drops (one where he heard footsteps, and the other where the defender blinded him from seeing the pass all the way through), the nine catches, 119 yards and one touchdown in 15 targets was one of the most dominating single game receiving performances in team history. Six more games like yesterday and Marshall will crack the Top-30 in Bears history for catches in a season. As inept as the quarterback position was in Chicago for years, receiver might have been even worse. Not anymore.

Rookie wideout Alshon Jeffery didn't miss his opportunities either. The 42-yard touchdown from Cutler was part of an 80-yard performance that will give defensive coordinators nightmares. Not only do they have to deal with the Pro Bowler Marshall, now they have to gameplan for another playmaking receiver opposite of him, not to mention third down favorite Earl Bennett and the ever dangerous Devin Hester.

Michael Bush came in and did what the team paid him to do - punch in touchdowns at the goal line. And Evan Rodriguez laid out a number of defenders with beautiful blocks to break Forte and Bush into the open field. The new guys surely did their jobs.

The old faces on defense had a couple of standout performances from Julius Peppers (fumble recovery and countless pressures) and Tim Jennings (two interceptions plus a tipped pass that led to a third). Unfortunately, the unit is going to be far from 100 percent come Thursday.

Brian Urlacher was removed in the second half after the game got out of hand - a smart move by the coaches, but only if you agreed with starting him in the first place. He looked slow in deciphering plays, and wasn't as helpful against the running game as he typically is. Despite his poor performance, his presence against Green Bay is a gross necessity. Backup linebacker Nick Roach was burned on a number of occasions in the Cover Two scheme by heralded rookie Andrew Luck, and will get brutalized by Aaron Rodgers if he's required to play extensive minutes against the Packers on Thursday.

Charles Tillman left the game with a leg injury, and it's unknown if he would've returned had the game been closer. His recovery time is unknown, and a Thursday game gives him little time to get healthy. The Packers are tough enough to cover with a full state of corners, it'll be nearly impossible if the Bears are missing their best guy.

The Bears were supposed to start 1-0. They played the NFL equivalent of a BCS school taking on a lower division opponent. It's the perfect opener, especially compared to what the Packers had to face heading into a short week. The questions now are whether or not key defenders will be well enough to play, and whether the same success can be had against a worthy adversary?

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