For a few fleeting moments Sunday at Soldier Field, all the changes the Chicago Bears made in the offseason on offense looked like window dressing.
Jay Cutler threw a bad interception near his own goal line for a pick-six, and the Bears new-look offense started out in a 7-0 hole. That all ended quickly after Matt Forte broke a 32-yard run and a cascade of big plays followed in a 41-21 Chicago victory against an Indianapolis Colts team that looks to have a major rebuilding season ahead.
The Bears scored more than in any opener since 1986 as Cutler threw for 333 yards. Nine of his 21 completions went to wide receiver Brandon Marshall for 119 yards. The turnaround from a 7-0 deficit was reflected in the Bears' offensive line, the team's biggest problem area heading into the season. They got Cutler sacked the very first play from scrimmage, but allowed only one more sack the rest of the game while making possible 428 net Chicago offensive yards. Over a 27-minute span of the game, the Bears outscored Indianapolis 34-7 following the quick-six pick.
The Bears' defense pressured rookie first-round draft pick Andrew Luck into risky plays and picked him off three times -- including two by former Colts cornerback Tim Jennings -- and was so impressive that coach Lovie Smith rested linebacker Brian Urlacher and his rehabbed left knee virtually the entire second half.
Luck threw for 309 yards in his first start on 23-of-45 passing, but his 52.9 passer rating for the game reflected the lack of weapons around him as well as his own inexperience.
When the game turned: The Colts' defense came out blitzing Cutler and scored a 4-yard touchdown return after Jerrell Freeman's interception on a short pass intended for running back Matt Forte. But the game turned 180 degrees after Forte broke a 32-yard run around left end behind a devastating block from rookie H-back Evan Rodriguez. After that point, Colts linebackers were less active worrying about the pass and it left room and time for Cutler to find Brandon Marshall or Earl Bennett. The game quickly turned into a rout.
Highlight moments: Forte's 32-yard run around left end that keyed an 11-play, 80-yard drive to the tying points with 7:19 left in the first quarter. ... WR Devin Hester's 29-yard catch deep over the middle that set up Marshall's 3-yard TD catch for the go-ahead points. The Bears never trailed after that. With coverage focused on Marshall, Hester had no one covering him. ... Rookie WR Alshon Jeffery getting behind the secondary for a 42-yard TD pass from Cutler in the fourth quarter to top off a three-catch, 80-yard first game. ... Cornerback Tim Jennings with a leaping interception in a jump ball situation 43 yards downfield at the Bears' 20 on a pass intended for Donnie Avery. It set up the Bears' offense for a drive to a Robbie Gould field goal and a 17-7 lead. ... DE Julius Peppers plucking a ball out of the air while laying on his stomach after DE Corey Wootton knocked it loose from Luck on a sack -- it was Wootton's second career sack, the first being the final play of Brett Favre's career.
Top-shelf performances: WR Brandon Marshall with nine catches for 119 yards. He was targeted 19 times. ... QB Jay Cutler, who went 21-of-35 for 333 yards with two TDs, one INT and a passer rating of 98.9. ... Cornerback Tim Jennings with two of his team's three INTs on the day. ... Running back Matt Forte, who gained 80 yards on 16 carries with one TD. ... Running back Michael Bush, who came on in short yardage and relief of Forte, and scored on two, 1-yard runs while gaining 42 yards on 12 rushes. ...
What they said about the way the game quickly turned after the Colts had gone ahead:
- WR Brandon Marshall -- "It wasn't the start that we wanted, but it was a great start to the season -- a bad start to the game, a great start to the season."
- Bears coach Lovie Smith -- "Through the course of the year you're going to have to fight through some adversity. You might as well get it out of the way early on to see what you're made out of. Things aren't going to be perfect for you and I thought they fought through it with no panic on the sideline or any of that."
- Bears QB Jay Cutler -- "I'd rather just start out hot and continue hot."
What Urlacher said about Smith pulling him after just over 30 plays: "I don't like coming out of the game. But that's the head coach. I do what he says."
What Andrew Luck said about throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble: "When you're responsible for four turnovers, it's hard to win, it's hard to be productive as an offense. Three picks and a fumble -- for me, those are killers."
What WR Reggie Wayne said about his rookie QB: "He kept his poise no matter what happened, and that's what he's been doing all preseason. We, as receivers, we have to make plays for him and give him that confidence. The offensive line needs to protect him to give him time to throw. We also need some kind of run game. It all feeds off each other."
Numbers you should know: Four of the last six Colts' possessions ended with turnovers and the first three ended with punts. ... The Colts' offense netted more than one first down on only two of its first eight possessions. ... The Bears had three sacks and forced a fumble off one.
Injury update: Cornerback Charles Tillman suffered what the Bears called a lower leg injury in the first half. He came out of the game and did not return. They will have more information Monday. Kelvin Hayden replaced him at right corner. ... Colts' linebacker Dwight Freeney suffered an ankle injury early in the first quarter and left the game for good. He was slated to undergo an MRI on the injury. Jerry Hughes replaced him for the remainder of the game. ... Starting RT Winston Justice left the game with a head injury and will be observed for possible concussion symptoms. He was replaced by Jeff Linkenbach.
Going forward: This was a game the Bears needed to win considering they have to go into Green Bay on Thursday night and have lost six of their last seven to the Packers. It's also big because Detroit won, as well. ... The Colts return for their home-opener against a Vikings team that is coming off a big overtime victory over Jacksonville.
Follow Bears reporter Gene Chamberlain on Twitter @CBSBears.