It was an interesting Saturday night in Indianapolis as the Chicago Bears put on their best performance of the preseason thus far, beating the Colts 27-17 in Lucas Oil Stadium. But the game itself was completely overshadowed by the surprise announcement that Andrew Luck was retiring from the NFL.
Luck's shocking decision aside, the Bears put on a clinic as head coach Matt Nagy's team was effective in all three phases of the game — on offense, defense, and even special teams. And this well-rounded performance didn't include any contributions from the starters and numerous key backups. Here are the four biggest takeaways from Chicago's third preseason game.
Despite the fact that the starting unit — and most of the second string — sat this one out, Chuck Pagano's defense gave those who watched a preview for what the regular season may hold. The Bears' first touchdown of the night came courtesy of an interception by safety Deon Bush, who picked off Colts quarterback Chad Kelly and returned it 91 yards to the house. Linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe recovered an Indianapolis fumble and returned it 22 yards for a fourth-quarter score, and the defense finished with three takeaways on the night.
The Bears also were credited with six sacks, 10 tackles for a loss, and held the Colts scoreless in the second half. They certainly gave Colts fans some reason to be concerned in the aftermath of Luck's retirement announcement. But more importantly for Chicago, this game provided some much-needed momentum heading into the regular season.
2. Eddy Pineiro
The Bears' recently minted starting kicker was certainly up to the task against Indianapolis. He shrugged off any talk about the team bringing another kicker as he converted both of his field goal attempts, from 21 and 58 yards. The 58-yarder had to be a pleasant surprise for both the Bears coaches and players, as well as their fans, as Pineiro showed off his leg strength and his accuracy (3-for-3 on PATs too). He'll have one more opportunity to prove himself against the Tennessee Titans this Thursday night (Aug. 29) at home. But at this point, Pineiro spot on the depth chart appears fairly secure.
3. Tight ends lead the way
Undrafted rookies Ian Bunting (only caught 29 passes in college) and Jasper Horsted (a converted wide receiver) made the most of their opportunities against Indianapolis. They were the Bears' top two receivers, combining for five receptions and 70 receiving yards. Horsted towered over two Colts defenders to grab a fourth-quarter touchdown pass, while Bunting hauled in a 25-yard catch. Dax Raymond also showed that he can block when needed and lined up at both the tight end and fullback positions. The Bears will have some tough choices to make at this position come final cuts over Labor Day weekend.
4. Tyler Bray
The third-string quarterback behind Mitchell Trubisky and Chase Daniel, Bray made his case for the team to keep three signal-callers on the 53-man roster. Bray had his best game of the preseason against the Colts, completing 11-of-16 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown. Bray showed better accuracy this time around and held his own in the pocket in the face of an aggressive pass rush. Bray will get one more chance to impress the coaches when he goes up against the Titans.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of www.chicagobears.com)