CHICAGO – Bears coach Lovie Smith was not looking for a hug when he told Brian Urlacher to remain on the sidelines as the defense took the field early in the third quarter Sunday.
Good thing. Smith didn’t get one.
“Brian wanted to play the entire game,” Smith said with an understanding smile after the Bears’ 41-21 win against the Indianapolis Colts. “When we told him he was coming out, it’s not like he told us that it was a great idea.”
The move prevented an unnecessary setback for Urlacher, who has practiced only twice since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in mid-August. He finished the game with two tackles and a pass break-up before giving way to Nick Roach with the Bears enjoying a 20-point lead, 34-14, with about 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Urlacher, 34, said he did not expect to be pulled early but followed his coach’s orders.
Part of the reason for the Bears to rest Urlacher likely was a quick turnaround for Week 2. They will visit the Green Bay Packers on Thursday at Lambeau Field.
“He knows that there’s a big picture,” Smith said. “We wanted to get him a little bit of work. It’s his first action. It’s like in a preseason game, you’re not going to let a guy go that entire time unless you have to, and we didn’t have to [Sunday].”
Up and down: Colts quarterback Andrew Luck passed for 309 yards in his NFL debut, but he also made a fair share of mistakes with three interceptions and a fumble.
Luck, 22, said he battled nerves before the opening kickoff.
“Definitely a little anxious,” Luck said. “Some butterflies. It takes sort of that first play to say, ‘I remember how to take a snap. Good. I can hand the ball off. Good.’ ”
But Luck said his overall performance was bad against the Bears.
“Three picks and a fumble for me, those are killers,” Luck said. “A lot of credit goes to them for making those plays. Not too many fond memories I think of [with] an opening loss.”
Staying power: Long snapper Patrick Mannelly set a franchise record by appearing in his 15th season with the team.
Mannelly, 37, surpassed longtime linebackers Doug Buffone (1966-79) and Bill George (1952-65), who each played 14 seasons on the lakefront. The Bears selected Mannelly in the sixth round of the 1998 NFL draft after his college career at Duke.
Mannelly has played in 216 games for the Bears, which is also a franchise record.
Bears bits: Matt Forte gained 120 yards from scrimmage (80 rushing, 40 receiving), which moved him past Gale Sayers for fourth place in franchise history with 6,338 total yards. … The Bears scored three rushing touchdowns for the first time since Oct. 4, 2009, against Detroit. … The Bears’ inactive players included receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and punter Ryan Quigley.