INDIANAPOLIS – Robert Mathis finally had an answer for the question he has been asked repeatedly during the offseason.
Playing his first NFL game in a standup position at outside linebacker, Mathis had two sacks in the Colts' 41-21 loss to Chicago on Sunday. Mathis wasted little time showing how he has made the transition.
After the Colts contained Bears wide receiver Devin Hester to just an 18-yard kick return to start the game, it was time for the Pro Bowler to make his impact.
Mathis sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler for a 12-yard loss on the game's first play from scrimmage and helped the Colts force a three-and-out.
The second sack for Mathis came in the second half with the defense trying to force stops and provide an opportunity for a possible comeback.
With the Bears facing a third-and-13 from their 29-yard line, Mathis had a seven-yard sack of Cutler. The takedown brought his 10-year career total to 85.5, the second-highest in franchise history.
The Chicago game marked the 20th time Mathis has recorded a multiple-sack game. Mathis trails only Dwight Freeney in club history in sacks.
"Robert obviously did some great things. To get those two sacks was positive for him in this new system," Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano said.
The Colts won the coin toss and deferred their choice to the second half, allowing their new 3-4 hybrid defense to get a crack at the Bears offense.
Following the three-and-out to start the game, the Colts defense recorded its first turnover of 2012.
Colts safety Joe Lefeged downed a Pat McAfee punt at the three yard-line, once again pinning the Bears up against their own goal line.
Linebacker Jerrell Freeman, making his NFL debut, picked off Cutler and returned it four yards for the Colts' first points of the season.
Freeman, who was starting in place of linebacker Pat Angerer, stepped in front of Bears running back Matt Forte and made the easy interception.
The turnover for a score was a part of a fast start for the Colts defense that held Cutler to one-of-10 passing to begin the game.
Early on Sunday, the Colts defense was able to get a good amount of pressure on Cutler, but unfortunately that production would not last.
Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney would exit the game early in the first quarter with an ankle injury.
"(Freeney) gets hurt I think on the first or second play of the game," Pagano said. "He gets an ankle injury and wasn't able to come back. Hopefully, it's not a serious one and we can get him back as soon as possible. That didn't help."
Without Freeney and by finding a rhythm, the Bears were able to control the ball for more 11 minutes in the second quarter and almost doubled the Colts in time of possession in the first half. Chicago used the first 30 minutes to build a 24-14 lead, and its lead never was by fewer than 13 points in the second half.
The Colts now return to Lucas Oil Stadium for the next three games, and Pagano and his staff are ready to make the necessary improvements.
"There were a lot of bright spots. We can always look to the positives. We're going to go back and look at the tape and find all the things that we need to correct," Pagano said. "We know that we have a long way to go."