For second-year Bears coach Matt Eberflus, it was his first preseason loss and it came in game neither of the expected headliners — Richardson, the fourth overall pick in April’s draft, or Justin Fields, the Bears starting quarterback — played. Most of the starters for both teams also sat out after the teams held two joint practices in central Indiana earlier this week.
But on a day Jake Funk’s 4-yard TD run and subsequent 2-point conversion run gave Indy (1-1) the lead with 4:28 to play, it was three quarterbacks — Minshew, Ehlinger and Bears undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent — who were most impressive.
“I felt great, feeling super comfortable in Shane’s offense,” said Minshew, who was with Steichen in Philadelphia the last two seasons. “I’ve been in it a little while and I feel really the guys they have around me.”
Ehlinger was 9 of 14 with 124 yards and led the team with 60 yards rushing on eight carries, including a 5-yard scoring run that cut the deficit to 17-13 midway through the fourth quarter. And while he couldn’t convert the 2-point conversion pass, he did set up Funk’s go-ahead score with a 22-yard completion to D.J. Montgomery.
Bagent was equally impressive after replacing Bears backup PJ Walker in the second quarter.
Chicago looked as if it might pull away after Cairo Santos broke the tie with a 50-yard field goal in the third quarter and Nathan Peterman hooked up with Daurice Fountain on a 35-yard TD pass to take a 17-7 lead with 13:47 to play.
Peterman drove Chicago to Indy’s 24-yard line in the final minute but was sacked on the game’s final play.
Colts running back Jonathan Taylor remains on the physically unable to perform list following offseason ankle surgery and is still mired in a contract dispute that includes a trade request.
While team owner Jim Irsay has said he will not trade the 2021 NFL rushing champ, he tried to smooth over the spat during the team’s game-day telecast.
“I respect any time people are, they’re trying to fight for their position, for their families and all those things,” he said. “We’re really excited to support him and embrace him because he’s a great young man. I know (general manager) Chris Ballard is going to work hard to try to get the waters as calm as he can.”
In 2020, Fountain was on the Colts active roster and practice squad but caught only two passes for 23 yards. He then signed with Kansas City Chiefs in 2021 before joining the Bears last October.
It’s a 2-hour, 45-minute drive from Lucas Oil Stadium to Soldier Field, but Saturday’s matchup was only the sixth preseason meeting between the franchises since 2000.
While most preseason games remain staggeringly forgettable, the impact of their last one remains glaring. On that night, Aug. 24, 2019, during the second half, word leaked that Andrew Luck was retiring. He was booed as he left the field. The Colts called an impromptu postgame news conference to announce the decision.
Indy’s three-time All-Pro linebacker Shaquille sat out Thursday’s practice and did not dress for Saturday’s game. Indy also lost linebacker Jo Jo Domann (calf) during the game. Bears cornerback Jaylon Jones walked off the field midway through the fourth quarter which what appeared to be a left leg injury. Chicago center Cody Whitehair didn’t play after hurting his right hand in practice this week..
Bears: Host Buffalo next Saturday in the preseason finale for both teams.
Colts: Head to Philadelphia for another joint practice before closing out the preseason against the Eagles on Thursday.