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Bears’ offense regroups in big way, blowing past Colts in opener

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) points as he calls play from line scrimmage against Indianapolis Colts during first half

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) points as he calls a play from the line of scrimmage against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: October 11, 2012 6:22AM



The Bears couldn’t have had an uglier start to the season.

The first five offensive snaps Sunday went as follows: sack, false start, three-yard run, incompletion and interception returned for a touchdown.

The Bears’ revamped offense looked like a lemon.

But the unit regrouped with an 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, and the offense steadily asserted itself, gaining 428 yards — the fifth-most under coach Lovie Smith — and showing off an assortment of weapons in a 41-21 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Solider Field.

“We did well. It’s a good starting point,” Bears safety Chris Conte said. “We need to ride this momentum into Green Bay.”

The Bears couldn’t have hoped for a better way to start the season, facing a quarterback making his first NFL start, even if Andrew Luck was the No. 1 overall pick.

While the Colts still have Pro Bowl players on their roster — receiver Reggie Wayne and pass rushers Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, to name a few — they aren’t vastly improved from the club that finished 2-14 last season.

The Bears’ offense lit up a defense that ranked 25th last season, and the Bears’ defense allowed two touchdowns — Jay Cutler tossed the pick-six — to an offense that was third-worst in 2011.

Afterward, Bears defensive players lamented the turnovers that got away, and offensive players bemoaned the porous start.

To win Thursday at Lambeau Field, though, the Bears can’t afford such mistakes.

“Big game coming up this week,” Bears defensive end Julius Peppers said. “It’s good to get this win, but we got to put it behind us and get ready for this next one.

“It’s nothing more than a good start. Whatever we did today, it’s what we did today. Next week, we’re going to have to do it again.”

Cornerback Tim Jennings keyed the defense with two interceptions and one deflection that Conte picked off. On offense, Brandon Marshall debuted with nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown; Jay Cutler competed 21 of 35 passes for 333 yards for a 98.9 rating; and running back Matt Forte finished with 120 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.

In addition, backup running back Michael Bush plowed his way for two one-yard touchdowns, and rookie Alshon Jeffery finished with three catches for 80 yards, including a gorgeous 42-yard touchdown.

“They have a lot of really good players on both sides of the ball and special teams,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “Credit to them for playing well.”



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