For the first time since the 1981 preseason, the Chicago Bears were shut out during an exhibition game, falling 22-0 to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.
The Broncos, looking to find a replacement for Peyton Manning at quarterback, handed the reins to Mark Sanchez to start Thursday's game, and he immediately made the Bears pay.
After several third down conversions, the Broncos turned away a blitz by the Bears and scored on a long touchdown pass. Sanchez found Demaryius Thomas over the top of the formation, with Bears corner Bryce Callahan giving up space in coverage, and Denver scored to make it a 7-0 game early in the first quarter.
The Bears' defense started to settle into a groove as the first quarter wore on, capitalizing on a turnover as Callahan tipped a Sanchez pass into the waiting hands of Jerrell Freeman for an interception. Unfortunately, the Bears' first string offense couldn't capitalize, and they went three-and-out on consecutive drives to end the first quarter.
As the second quarter got underway, former Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian took over at quarterback for the Broncos, and he marched them down the field. Rookie Bears cornerback Deiondre' Hall stopped the momentum single-handedly however, as he batted down two straight passes to force the Broncos to settle for a field goal and a 10-0 lead.
The Bears finally got some progress going down the field as Brian Hoyer and Deonte Thompson connected on two passes, but things died out again at midfield. With Cody Whitehair at center, Hoyer had to snag down two high snaps, and on the second one he was sacked and the Bears turned the ball over on downs.
The Broncos were able to move up the field into field goal range, and after some good coverage from Hall and deon Bush, they had to once again settle for three points to give them a 13-0 lead with three minutes to go in the first half.
As the Bears set up to punt late in the second quarter, things went from bad to worse. Bennie Fowler broke up the middle of the formation and blocked the punt off of Pat O'Donnell's foot, and Zaire Anderson recovered it in the end zone to give the Broncos a late 20-0 advantage.
The second half featured some strong defensive performances, but even that was good enough for the Broncos to score points. Dekoda Watson did the honors for the Broncos, sacking David Fales in the end zone to rack up a safety and give Denver a 22-0 lead that they would never relinquish.
The Bears will have the weekend to regroup before they head to New England to practice with the Patriots. They will then take on the Pats in an exhibition game next Thursday.