‘Bad mistake by me’: Inexperience shows in Bears’ loss to Colts

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Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (being tackled by Bears cornerback Jacoby Glenn) caught 10 passes for 171 yards and a 35-yard touchdown in the Colts’ 29-23 victory Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS — Bears cornerback Jacoby Glenn was dejected, almost disconsolate, after getting burned by Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton for the winning touchdown Sunday. But he owned up to it.

“I don’t really want to talk about it. Probably another day,” Glenn said after dressing quietly and turning to face reporters in the Bears’ locker room after a 29-23 loss at Lucas Oil Statdium. “Bad mistake by me — that’s what it was. My fault. I got beat.”

You didn’t need to look at the film to know that Glenn was the culprit on that fateful play. Tight end Jack Doyle’s corner route drew safety Adrian Amos and left Glenn in single coverage. And Hilton — a Pro Bowl receiver in 2014 and 2015— beat him on a post route for a 35-yard touchdown that gave the Colts a 26-23 lead with 3:43 left in the fourth quarter.

Obviously not Glenn’s finest moment, but the difference-making play was more emblematic of the challenge the Bears’ face in re-buidling their defense than it was an indictment of Glenn. When it mattered most, the Bears were too young, too inexperienced, too injured and relying too much on overachieving undrafted free agents and late-round draft picks in their secondary to win the battle against Andrew Luck.

In a key moment, the Bears had an undrafted free agent who had been benched the previous week working against Hilton. Glenn was playing in place of Bryce Callahan, another overachieving undrafted free agent who was playing pretty well before he suffered a hamstring injury. Chris Prosinski, a back-up safety, was in for Harold Jones-Quartey, a second-year starter — yet another undrafted free agent — who was benched in nickel situations Sunday. 

“We really didn’t have breakdowns. We just didn’t make the plays we should have made,” said Amos, a sixth-round draft pick in 2015. “We were in certain coverages that sometimes put the corner on an island [and] they just made the plays we didn’t make.”

Not that the Bears aren’t making progress under Vic Fangio. But they’re learning the hard way right now. After allowing 243 yards and 7.1 yards per play in the first half, the Bears reeled in Luck and the Colts offense in the second half. They allowed just 54 yards and 3.2 yards per play — with three three-and-outs — on the Colts’ first four possessions of the second half.

When the Bears rallied to take a 23-19 lead on Brian Hoyer’s 24-yard touchdown pass to rookie running back Jordan Howard with 7:04 to play, the stage was set: the Bears’ defense with all the momentum, ready to put the hammer down vs. the indomitable will of Andrew Luck.

It was no contest. Luck needed just six plays to drive 77 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The never even reached a third down. It was as if Luck’s laser focus carried his offense to a higher level. Luck was 5-of-9 for 53 yards and a 72.9 passer rating in the second half until his team was behind. He was 5-of-5 for 74 yards and a a touchdown for a perfect 158.3 rating on the Hilton touchdown drive. Hilton finished with 10 catches for 171 yards — the third most receiving yards against the Bears in the last 15 seasons. 

“He was the No. 1 overall pick for a reason,” Bears cornerback Tracy Porter said. “I have much respect for him, for what he’s accomplished. He’s a guy that when the game’s on the line, he’s not going to back down or be fearful. I’m not saying we were fearful. He just happened to make plays when we were out of position.”

The Bears don’t want to blame it on inexperience — All these young guys can play,” Prosinski said. “That’s not really an excuse.” But in reality they can only hope that it is. At least then they can expect to learn from their mistakes — which is becoming the real challenge of this season.

“You never want to lose the momentum at such a crucial moment of the game. But it happened to us,” Porter said. “It’s definitely deflating. But we didn’t give up. We tried to fight through it. And unfortunately, we were unsuccessful.

“We’re setting here 1-4 — that’s not a fun place to be. But those are the cards that we’re dealt now. All our names are on it.  It’s up to us to dig out of this hole and push forward and turn this thing around.”

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