Cutler, Forte lead way, Bears beat Colts, 41-21

Associated Press Modified: September 10, 2012 at 4:17 am •  Published: September 10, 2012
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CHICAGO (AP) — The way Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall connected, it seemed like they'd never been apart.

As for Andrew Luck? Call this a rough welcome.

Cutler threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns, Marshall added 119 yards receiving with a TD, and the Chicago Bears spoiled Luck's debut, beating the Indianapolis Colts 41-21 Sunday in the season opener.

Cutler joked he and Marshall needed to make a good impression. After all, big things are expected.

"We knew if we didn't, you guys would have a field day," Cutler said. "We started off slow. I think that was a little bit of concern on my part. My feet were all over the place, missing some balls."

Once Cutler settled down, the offense found its rhythm. The defense did its job against Luck, too.

Matt Forte ran for 80 yards and a touchdown to go with 40 yards receiving. Newcomer Michael Bush added two TD runs, and with Luck held in check, Chicago wound up with a lopsided win.

The rookie was 23 of 45 for 309 yards with a 4-yard TD pass to Donnie Avery early in the fourth. But Luck also lost a fumble, got sacked three times and threw three interceptions — two to Tim Jennings — in an up-and-down start for a rookie with huge shoes to fill. All he has to do is prove the Colts were right to take him with the No. 1 pick in the draft and part with Peyton Manning after he missed last season with a neck injury.

"There will be a lot of positives, a lot of negatives, we'll try to learn from it," Luck said. "I'm still disappointed fresh off what happened but we'll get over it."

Reggie Wayne, one of Manning's old targets, caught nine passes for 135 yards. But it was a familiar result for a team with new management and a new coach in Chuck Pagano after winning just two games.

Then again, it was hardly a surprise.

The Bears expect to contend in the NFC, and they wound up with their highest point total since they scored 48 in a win over Detroit on Oct. 4, 2009.

With their Pro Bowl running back and strong-armed quarterback leading the way, they racked up 428 yards — 287 while building a 10-point halftime lead — in their first game with Mike Tice as coordinator.

Forte's 6-yard run early in the third quarter and Robbie Gould's field goal after LaVon Brazill fumbled away the ensuing kickoff made it 34-14.

Cutler shook off a rough start and completed 21 of 35 passes. He got sacked by Robert Mathis for a 12-yard loss on the game's first play from scrimmage, a familiar site for the Bears, and had an interception returned 3 yards for a touchdown by Jerrell Freeman on the second possession. But Chicago caught a big break when the Colts' Dwight Freeney left with a sprained an ankle in the first quarter.

The Bears believe they are poised for a playoff run after injuries wrecked a promising season a year ago, sending them to an 8-8 finish. New general manager Phil Emery revamped the roster and brought in a go-to receiver, reuniting Cutler with Marshall, his old friend from Denver, in that blockbuster trade with Miami.

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