With 15 minutes left to go it was a typical Sunday in Chicago. The Bears were in a close game that could go either way, but a 21-point fourth quarter explosion brought the Bears a step closer to getting back in the playoff hunt.
The defenses best performance of the year sparked a 28-3 victory over Arizona. The unit forced three turnovers (2 interceptions and one fumble recovery) and held the Cardinals to 197 yards of total offense.
"They did an unbelievable job," Coach Dick Jauron said. "It started up front, but it never ended up front. You say the game is won and lost up front, well it's won and lost in 11 spots but it always starts right up there."
Coming into the game Arizona's biggest offensive threat, Anquan Boldin, was one yard away from becoming the 12th rookie in NFL history to surpass 1000 yards receiving. The Bears secondary paid extra attention to Boldin and it paid off as he caught four balls for 33 yards, three of which came on the final drive of the game when the Bears were playing soft in coverage.
Defensive coordinator Greg Blache admitted that his unit probably played their best game of the year and his reason why was simple.
"Well, guys made plays," Blache said. "We were able to get off the field on third down. We had them in third and long as opposed to one or two."
On the other side of the ball, the absence of Anthony Thomas due to viral pneumonia meant Brock Forsey received his second career start. The rookie exceeded all expectations rushing for 134 yards with one touchdown on 27 carries. The total is the highest by a Chicago running back this season.
"Brock is the man of hour," said fellow rookie Charles Tillman. "With "A-Train" down right now I think Brock came in and did a great job."
The Bears took the lead on their opening possession. For most of the day Kordell Stewart looked like the quarterback the Bears thought they signed to be their starter including 4-of-4 for 85 yards to start the game. A 24-yard completion to Bobby Wade converted a third and 6 inside the Bears 10. Two plays later Stewart threw up a deep lob to Justin Gage and as he was hand fighting with an Arizona defender, the cornerback went to the ground as the ball popped up. Gage stayed on his feet and was able to come up with the ball and continue running. The play turned into a 57-yard completion, which is the longest of the season for Chicago. Two plays later Stewart rolled right out of the pocket and found Marty Booker in the southwest corner of the end zone for a two-yard score.
The Cardinals got on the board with their ensuing possession. A 28-yard completion from Jeff Blake to TE Freddie Jones set a 32-yard field goal by Neil Rackers that just stayed inside the left upright for three points.
The Bears had several chances to extend their lead as the game progressed, but field goal attempts of 43 and 44 yards by Paul Edinger came up short into a strong wind.
Before the end of the half the Bears were pinned deep in their territory. For the majority of the year the philosophy has bee to run out the clock in similar situations, but the Bears but after two Stewart incompletions the quarterback took off for a 12-yard gain and a first down. From there the Bears moved down field with completions to Booker, Gage and Desmond Clark. With a potential 50-yard field goal unlikely, the Bears went down field to Gage. This time the receiver came up with an apparent 33-yard touchdown grab, but was flagged for offensive pass interference nullifying the score and pushing the Bears out of field goal range.
"I don't know about the call, but from the sideline I thought they (the referees) could call it," Jauron said of the penalty on Gage. "As soon as the flag was thrown I said ‘that could easily be on us.' I felt the defender had a hold of him early I thought they might have called it that way, but I saw his (Gage's) arms extend and those are long arms so they're not hard to see extend when that happens."
Despite having a 33-yard gain taken away, Gage still finished with 100 yards receiving on just four receptions.
The Bears carried a slim 7-3 advantage into the fourth quarter that's when they put the game on the back of the defense.
An interception and 29-yard return by R.W. McQuarters gave the offense the ball at the Arizona 12.
Stewart, who went 22-for-37 with two passing touchdowns and another running, no interceptions and a season-high 284 yards, connected with Dez White for a 10-yard score extending the lead to 14-3.
Following a three and out by the defense a 22-yard punt return by R.W. McQuarters gave the offense good field position.
"Once again a great contribution returning punts and the interception is maybe the play that turned the game around," Jauron said.
The offense turned to the ground game to move the ball and eat the clock. Forsey carried the ball 6 times on the 8-play drive for 33 yards. However it was Stewart that put the another tally on the board with an 8-yard scramble midway through the fourth quarter.
"Kordell had an outstanding game," Jauron said. "That's what we want from Kordell Stewart. He hurts you with the run at critical times. Not planned runs, he comes out of that pocket and you're in trouble."
With desperation settling in Jeff Blake scrambled out of the pocket trying to make something happen when Michael Haynes stripped the quarterback from behind. Alex Brown recovered the ball and gave the Bears the ball deep in Arizona territory.
"I was going inside and all of the sudden the quarterback broke contain and I was like oh crap here we go," Haynes said. "I literally put my head down and started running and try to catch him off at the pass. I noticed when I was running for the tackle he was carrying the ball on that side so I took a swipe at it."
The Bears capped the day by converting another turnover into a touchdown. This time it was Forsey's turn, a 9-yard scamper put the game out of reach and gave the Bears their fifth victory of the year.
With Green Bay and Minnesota both losing in Week 13 Chicago is a game back of the Packers and two behind the Vikings with four to play. The Bears trip to Lambeau will be followed with Minnesota coming to Soldier Field.
"We've been playing better the past few weeks and we put it all together today," said Brian Urlacher. "We knew this was a big game for us to get us to 5-7 we still have a chance to do something."