Cutler, Gould highlight Bears first half against Colts


Cutler, Gould highlight Bears first half against Colts

This short-handed Bears offense found a way to move the ball, if not finish, in trailing 11-9 in Indianapolis at halftime.

And it may have become more short-handed at an already-thin wide receiver corps when Marquess Wilson tweaked a hamstring on the second series, came back to make an impressive 10-yard gain on a catch-and-stiff-arm in the third series, then went back to the sidelines for good.

As for Charles Leno Jr.'s audition at right tackle, he didn't provide anything better than what Jordan Mills has provided, with a hands-to-the-face penalty on a third-and-8 on the opening series. But after that three-and-out came a trio of field goal drives with 14 runs and eight passes, with Robbie Gould connecting from 50, 37 and 25 yards.

[MORE: Bears step way up in class trying to stop Colts, Andrew Luck]

As a matter of fact, every phase of special teams has been solid, with 29- and 22-yard punt returns by Marc Mariani and a 31-yard kick return by Senorise Perry providing solid field position. Matt Forte got his first game action of the preseason, with eight carries for 24 yards, but his 12-yard reception was the biggest play on the first field goal drive. Forte's 11-yard run on the second field goal drive also included Cutler going 4-for-4, twice to Martellus Bennett.

But concerns continued at tackle as the field got shorter, with pressure coming from the outside, not to mention a Kyle Long hold that wiped out a gutsy, helmet-removing 12-yard run by Cutler that would've set up fourth-and-goal from the 1.

But that line was winning most of the way on a nine-play, 51-yard drive, with Jacquizz Rodgers carrying six times for 28 yards.

There were steps made on defense, too, versus Andrew Luck, permitting just one first down the first two series'. Pernell McPhee had a sack and third-down pressure on the opening series. Jarvis Jenkins and Jared Allen (in a three-point stance) hurried Luck on the second series.

Luck found his rhythm and the Colts' line adjusted on the third possession, marching from their own 13 to a touchdown and two-point conversion - Kyle Fuller responsible for 45 of those yards on a 30-yard reception by T.Y. Hilton, followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct call.

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Once Luck exited, Matt Hasselbeck was victimized on an incredibly athletic downfield interception in man coverage by Terrance Mitchell. But Jimmy Clausen and Dante Rosario got mixed up on an ensuing interception by Indy, which turned into the go-ahead field goal at the gun, though not before a combo sack by Will Sutton and Willie Young.

Adrian Amos provided good support a couple of times and did not get exposed in moving into the starting lineup. Cutler wound up 8 of 9 passing for 69 yards.

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

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Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”