INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Jimmy Clausen outplayed Jay Cutler in the red zone Saturday night.
Their performances aren’t raising any red flags in Chicago, though.
After Cutler led the Bears to three field goals in a mistake-prone first half, his backup, Clausen, made amends for one big mistake by leading Chicago to two second-half touchdowns and a 23-11 victory at Indianapolis.
“I thought we made progress tonight in all phases,” first-year coach John Fox said after his second straight preseason win. “But by no means have we arrived.”
Certainly not under the circumstances.
Cutler’s touchdown run was called back because of a penalty, the Bears twice settled for field goals after moving inside the Colts 10-yard line, and Clausen’s interception late in the first half set up Adam Vinatieri’s 25-yard go-ahead field goal.
Clausen was better in the second half.
He wiped out the Colts’ 11-9 halftime lead by throwing a 12 -yard TD pass to Joshua Bellamy midway through the third quarter, and watched with delight as Jeremy Langford ended the next Chicago series by breaking a tackle and scoring on a 2-yard run to make it 23-11 with 2:00 left in the third.
“We were just taking care of the ball and moving the chains,” Clausen said. “We had some penalties early on, and the interception. We just got back into the swing of things and moved the chains.”
Cutler finished 8 of 9 for 69 yards and was sacked once in the return to his home state. Clausen was 6 of 9 for 54 yards with one TD and one interception. Langford ran nine times for 80 yards, and Matt Forte had eight carries for 24 yards in his first game action.
That was good enough against the exhibition-challenged Colts.
The Colts have lost seven straight exhibition games since beating Cleveland on Aug. 24, 2013. The Colts also lost their fifth consecutive August game to the Bears, a streak that dates to 1995. And that wasn’t even the worst part.
First-round draft pick Phillip Dorsett, the small, speedy receiver from Miami, left in the third quarter with what coach Chuck Pagano described as a bruised right knee.
Andrew Luck finished 5 of 9 for 71 yards, was sacked once, scored on a 5-yard run and completed a 2-point conversion pass to Andre Johnson to give Indy an 8-6 lead.
Sheldon Price’s interception set up Vinatieri’s field goal, but that was all the Colts could muster on a night rookie Josh Robinson rushed 13 times for 61 yards.
“We’re going to have a hard time winning football games when we’re beating ourselves,” coach Chuck Pagano said.
Observations from the game:
Forte wasn’t the only big-name guy returning to action Saturday. But he was busy. Forte touched the ball on six of the Bears’ first nine plays after sitting out last week. Receiver T.Y. Hilton missed Indy’s preseason opener for personal reasons, and set up Indy’s first score with a 45-yard catch Saturday. Hilton wound up with two receptions for 52 yards.
MAKING HIS CASE
Langford, No. 3 on the depth chart, had Chicago’s two most spectacular plays of the night. On Chicago’s first TD drive, he found a gap in the middle and made safety ColtAnderson miss on a 46-yard run. Then, after breaking another tackle, Langford reversed field and got around the right side for a 2-yard score that actually covered about 30 yards.
Dorsett, running back Frank Gore and receiver Andre Johnson all made their home debuts Saturday. Gore had two carries for 10 yards, giving Colts fans a glimpse of what they might expect this season. Johnson officially had one catch for 8 yards, but also caught the 2-point conversion pass. Dorsett had three receptions for 21 yards.
In addition to Dorsett, the Colts lost cornerbacks Greg Toler (strained neck) and Eric Patterson (concussion) and linebacker Daniel Adongo (cramps). None of the four returned to the game. Bears receiver Marquess Wilson (hamstring) left in the first half. Fox said it didn’t appear to be a serious injury. Chicago also played without receivers Alshon Jeffery (strained calf) and first-round draftee Kevin White (shin).