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Columnist
Talk about misconceptions
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 9/8/2008 12:18 AM

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INDIANAPOLIS - All that bad stuff you heard here and elsewhere about the Bears during the preseason?

Stuff it.

The defense stinks? No, it's the reincarnation of the '85 Bears.

Kyle Orton can only manage a game? No, he's Joe Montana.

Jerry Angelo can't evaluate offensive players? No, he's a home run hitter.

Bears coordinators couldn't coordinate changing a light-bulb? No, they're geniuses.

Lovie Smith is too sleepy on the sideline? No, he's a raging ball of emotion.

It'll take a few more years for the Bears to overcome the Thomas Jones/Cedric Benson misjudgement? No, rookie Matt Forte is erasing that already.

The Bears regressed since losing Super Bowl XLI to the Colts? No, Sunday night they outhit, outsmarted and overall outplayed Indianapolis.

Any preconceptions of the Bears entering their regular season opener exited as misconceptions.

After looking awful going 1-3 during the preseason, the Bears looked awfully good upsetting the Colts 29-13.

"We hadn't had one like that in a long time, where we got soundly outplayed," Colts coach Tony Dungy said.

So for a week the Bears, not the Colts, are the Super Bowl contenders. Heck, having beaten Peyton Manning and with Tom Brady injured, maybe the Bears are Super Bowl favorites.

Surely I jest. Yes, surely I do. But the Bears are a week ahead of where they were expected to be in, say, December.

If nothing else, beating the Colts demonstrates an upside that skeptics like me didn't believe the Bears had. Remaining to be seen is how high is up, and for how long.

Next week the Bears go to Charlotte, and the Panthers pulled an opening upset of their own at San Diego.

But Week 2 can wait. Let the Bears and their fans enjoy the victory over the Colts for a day.

Let everybody savor the performance of Forte, who set the tone with a 50-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Savor Orton, who not only managed the game but he also made some excellent throws at prominent times.

Savor the patched offensive line that enabled Forte and Orton to indicate they were more than merely a rookie and a stopgap.

Savor Brian Urlacher and the rest of the defense, which never let the Colts' fabled offense get into their dominating rhythm.

"It's one win," said Smith, the Bears' coach. "You don't win championships the first quarter of the season. As much as anything, it's the way we played."

The easy conclusion is that the Bears simply took advantage of the fact Manning didn't take single snap during the preseason.

But concluding that the Bears played well because Manning didn't would be unfair to both.

The Bears were so good they even overcame themselves, or more precisely Devin Hester's brain cramp on the second-half kickoff.

The Colts eventually turned the mistake into a touchdown, but the Bears countered with Lance Briggs' return of a fumble for a touchdown.

After that the Bears never let up and never let Indianapolis up. If the Colts came in with questions, the Bears left with answers.

In beating opponents on the field and doubters off it, the Bears made this an interesting season at least one week longer than expected.

mimrem@dailyherald.com