It wasn't difficult to tell which team is coming off a Super Bowl title and which team finished last in their division when the Bears and Denver Broncos took the field on Thursday evening.
Despite playing without defensive stalwarts Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, the Denver Broncos registered seven sacks as they annihilated the Bears, 22-0, in Thursday's preseason opener. About the only positive the Bears can take away is they'll escape the first preseason tilt without any serious injuries and that Pat O'Donnell got about two weeks worth of punting reps.
From the onset the Broncos looked like a well-oiled machine as Mark Sanchez engineered a 10-play, 76-yard drive on the first drive of the game against a Bears defense minus two starters in cornerback Tracy Porter and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee. Sanchez capped off the drive when Broncos wide receiver burned Bryce Callahan for 32-yard touchdown reception.
The Bears first-team offense didn't fare much better than the first-team defense.
The Bears offensive line couldn't keep quarterback Jay Cutler upright as he was sacked twice on the team's first two possessions of the game. Cutler and the starters were pulled after three series that resulted in 13 total yards. Cutler finished his first preseason game by completing 3-of-4 passes for 16 yards. Starting wideouts Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White combined for two receptions for 15 yards, while starting running back Jeremy Langford was only able to manage seven yards on four carries.
Brian Hoyer, who signed a one-year deal to serve as Cutler's backup, got his first action in a Bears uniform when he took over in the second quarter. The protection issues didn't get any better for Hoyer as he was sacked three times in the first half. Hoyer accounted for one of two Bears turnovers when he overthrew Deonte Thompson and the ball found the outstretched arms of Broncos cornerback Lorenzo Doss.
The Bears' special teams unit got in on the uninspiring effort when rookie defensive back DeAndre Houston-Carson allowed Bennie Fowler to get around him and block O'Donnell's punt attempt. Broncos linebacker Zaire Anderson scooped the ball in the end zone to give the Broncos a 20-0 lead just before the first half came to a conclusion.
The Broncos tacked on two more points in the third quarter with a safety of Bears third-string quarterback David Fales.
The last time the Bears were shut out in a preseason game came at the hands of the Broncos in 1975.
The Bears continue their preseason schedule when they head to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots next Thursday night.