Bears give Andrew Luck a rude welcome
BY NEIL HAYES email@example.com September 9, 2012 9:36PM
Bears lineman Israel Idonije applies pressure to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck in the third quarter of the Chicago Bears 41-21 win over the Indianapolis Colts Sunday September 9, 2012 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: October 11, 2012 6:19AM
If Andrew Luck thought the preseason was fast, then Sunday’s game was unfolding at warp speed in a blur of navy blue jerseys, especially early on.
The new face of the Indianapolis Colts eventually adjusted to the unaccustomed speed. Peyton Manning’s heir apparent was overwhelmed early, when pressure from the Bears’ defensive front had him hopping around as if his shoes were aflame. By the end of the half, he was coolly leading his offense into field-goal range in a two-minute drill.
Of course, by that time, the Bears had a comfortable 10-point lead that would bloat to 20 midway through the third quarter of a 41-21 victory at Soldier Field.
“It definitely was kicked up another notch, especially against a defense with Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, Henry Melton and [Brian] Urlacher,” Luck said. “They have a lot of speed out there. They’re a fast team. There was a noticeable difference.”
Luck completed 23 of 45 passes for 309 yards with one touchdown, three interceptions and a fumble — not unlike Manning’s debut with the Colts. He threw for 302 yards and had three interceptions and one touchdown in his first NFL game.
Debuts are never easy, and the Bears did all they could to make Luck’s miserable. They sacked him three times, although two came during slop time. They forced him to rush passes.
Peppers inadvertently punched him in the throat late in the first quarter. How’s that for a welcome-to-the-NFL moment?
“He kept his poise no matter what the situation was,” said veteran receiver Reggie Wayne, who caught nine passes for 135 yards while serving as Luck’s security blanket. “He had some tough times. Guys were in his face. We as an offense have to help him out.”
Wayne was open down the right sideline when Luck threw a pass he could get away with in college but not in the NFL. He threw the ball so high, Tim Jennings had time to leap in front to make the first of his two interceptions. Luck thought Israel Idonije was offside, so he assumed it was a free play.
“I should never assume anything,” he said. “It was a bad ball as well. It was underthrown.”
He was trying to thread the ball to Wayne in the end zone between two defenders in the third quarter when a diving Jennings deflected it to safety Chris Conte, who returned the interception 35 yards.
His final interception was the result of a bad throw in the final moments.
“I do not have too many fond memories of [this] opening loss,” Luck said.