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That deliriously diehard Bears fan? The one who has high hopes, high as a pie in the sky hopes no matter how bad the vast majority thinks his team will be? Even that guy was blown away by the Bears Sunday night. Even that guy didn't envision the Monsters absolutely manhandling the Colts and delivering a "We Are Back" statement that reverberated through the NFL.
So many highlights!
* During offensive coordinator Ron Turner's great, great play-calling performance, one call clearly stood out. You wanted the Bears to go for the jugular as they drove into Colts territory with a nine-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but you totally understood Turner playing it close to the vest. It had worked awfully well up until then and with just a one-yard, third-down run they would have earned a first down well inside Robbie Gould's preferred field goal range. Such a kick (for a 12-point lead) would have forced the Colts to score two touchdowns to win. But Turner eschewed the safe play. Desmond Clark broke free deep and Kyle Orton, standing strong in the face of a heavy rush, didn't miss him.
* The Bears didn't blitz as often as Madden thought they did and while Peyton Manning was clearly rusty, it wasn't as much of a factor in the outcome as the Bears' suffocating scheme, a fact Madden and partner Al Michaels too frequently overlooked. But overall it was a pleasure to take in the game with these guys. It never fails that a couple times a game, Michaels is on top of a rules interpretation or a bit of unusual strategy that most play-by-play guys simply miss. His explanation of why Lovie's challenge of the call on the fumble on the kickoff return had no chance was just the sort of thing he does much better than any other announcer.
And there was some even-better-than-usual stuff from Madden. He was sharp whether he was talking about Orton getting better the closer he got to the end zone or revealing that he'd had an unusually revealing chat with Lovie at some point this week regarding Mike Brown. It wasn't exactly rocket science, but Lovie noted that while Brown is awfully good coming up in run support, that's also where he keeps getting hurt. So he'll be staying back in a deep zone for the foreseeable future. Not a huge revelation from the average coach, but for the Bears' rigorously reticent head coach it was an amazingly frank exchange.
* Great to see Big-Play Peanut Tillman (does that draw a flag for illegal nickname procedure?) in a return engagement - the veteran cornerback's game-changing capabilities were rarely seen last year as injuries took their toll. But Tillman, who warmed up in the first half by absolutely leveling Reggie Wayne on an ill-advised Peyton Manning pass into the flat, made the defensive play of the game when he slapped the ball out of Marvin Harrison's hands with the Bears clinging to a two-point lead late in the third quarter. Lance Briggs, who was also a major physical presence on D, especially in the second half, smoothly scooped up the fumble and ran it all the way back for a huge touchdown. It was just the way the head coach, who not only preaches the importance of turnover creation but also exhorts his players to turn those turnovers into immediate points (i.e. trying to scoop up fumbles to get a big return going rather than just falling on them), would have drawn it up.
* The Bears neutralized Colts freak-of-nature safety Bob Sanders at least 90 percent of the time. Sanders reminded one and all of his frightful power despite his diminutive stature (he stands barely 5 feet, 8 inches tall) with a huge hit on Matt Forte late in the first half. If the Bears weren't running when Sanders was back in pass coverage and passing when he came up near the line, they were popping linemen free to at least shield him away from ball carriers all night.
* After a shaky start (his first kickoff was low and not terribly deep), Robbie Gould pounded a couple great ones (strong hangtime while carrying all the way to the goal line or beyond) in the second quarter and after the intermission. When the Colts committed an obvious penalty on the one late in the first half after the Bears first field goal, rookie draft steal Marcus Harrison followed with his huge sack (Welcome to Chicago big guy!). Then Adewale Ogunleye, who had a great game other than that brutal, head-butting personal foul late, tackled Joseph Addai for the safety.
* Even when Devin Hester makes a mistake, it is an extraordinary mistake. His decision to try to take the second-half kickoff out of the end zone after waiting a few seconds to try to convince Colts he had downed it was . . . wait for it . . . ridiculous! One can't help but see that sort of play and wonder if the lack of football smarts on display as Hester was then tripped up inside the five is also the reason he still seems not to have mastered the wide receiver position. But hey, the season is just getting started, right? There's plenty of time for him to make his mark on offense. Then again, given how well Clark went deep in the fourth quarter and how smoothly Greg Olsen proceeded down the sideline on his way to hauling in the Bears' second-biggest pass play of the night at the end of the first half, maybe this team will revolutionize the receiver position. Maybe tight ends Clark and Olsen will line up wide, Rashied Davis will return to the slot and Hester will go back to specializing in returns.
* In conclusion, let's all do something together. Let's all repeat a mantra ten times and then maybe a few more people will remember it when training camp rolls around next year. "Pre-season games mean nothing. Pre-season games mean nothing . . . Pre-season games . . . " Well, you take it from here. The Bears certainly will.
Jim Coffman brings you the city's best weekend sports roundup every Monday. It's always a pleasure, isn't it? You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.More from Beachwood Sports »
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