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Bears fall short to flawed Colts, 29-23, in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS — With 57 seconds left, the Bears offense was finally stopped.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-8 and the Bears trailing by six, and the Bears lost, 29-23, Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

To take the lead, quarterback Andrew Luck marched the Colts 82 yards on six plays, finishing the drive with a 35-yard pass over the middle to T.Y. Hilton.

The Bears had scored less than three-and-a-half minutes earlier, when rookie Jordan Howard caught a pass over the middle and ran for a 21-yard touchdown. The rookie paced an offense Hoyer steered, again, with few mistakes. Starting his third-straight game for Jay Cutler (thumb), Hoyer completed 33 of 43 passes for 397 yards and two touchdowns.

The Bears'  Jerrell Freeman tackles  Colts running back Josh Ferguson Sunday. (AP)

The Bears’ Jerrell Freeman tackles Colts running back Josh Ferguson Sunday. (AP)

Given a chance to reply after Hilton’s catch, second-year receiver Cam Meredith, who started for the injured Kevin White and played well, fumbled after catching a 12-yard pass, giving the Colts the ball at the Bears 30 with 3:29 to play.

The Colts managed only an Adam Vinatieri field goal, though, to go up six with 2:28 to play.

A Bears pass rush left short-handed by Leonard Floyd — whose calf injury placed him on the inactive list — struggled to sniff Luck, who before Sunday led the NFL by being sacked 16 times, in the first half.

Though they were unable to force a first-half punt, the Bears did mitigate damage, forcing three Adam Vinatieri field goals — of 54, 53 and 26 yards.

The Colts’ first touchdown came at the end of what could have been a goal-line stand. The Colts faced first-and-goal from the 5, but the Bears forced a three-yard pass, an incompletion and a 1-yard run. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Luck play-faked out of a tight I-formation and found Dwayne Allen wide open for a touchdown.

On offense, the Bears were betrayed by their own penalties. On their first possession, Howard was whistled for a facemask penalty while blocking on a screen that would have given the Bears the ball at the 1. In the second quarter, Kyle Long was flagged for holding on a completion that would have given the Bears first down at the Colts’ 17. In both cases, Connor Barth kicked field goals.

With 3:35 left in the half, Meredith scored his first career touchdown on a double move, catching a 14-yard pass from Hoyer.

The Colts parried with a field goal before halftime — but not before Luck was sacked on third-and-goal from the one — to go ahead 16-13.

Vinatieri added his fourth field goal about halfway through the third quarter on a drive extended by two third-down conversions: one on cornerback Bryce Callahan’s illegal contact flag and the other on a 19-yard pass to Chester Rodgers with Callahan trailing.

On the next drive, Connor Barth missed a 54-yard kick — only to be shoved down by T.J. Green. Given another chance, he missed the 49-yarder.

The Bears gave him a shorter attempt — a 24-yarder that he made — after fizzling after facing first-and-10 at the Colts’ 11.


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