Sloppy Game Results in Victory

The Bears continue to win ugly as they defeated the Cardinals 20-13 improving their record to 3-1. For a second straight week the defense scored a touchdown off a fumble. R.W. McQuarters 69-yard run back in the third quarter turned out to be the winning margin.

"It was not pretty but we will take it," said Dick Jauron. "I am very happy with how hard we played for the whole 60 minutes. Our execution went a little downhill in the second half, particularly on the offensive side, but our defense played another outstanding football game."

The Bears dominated the first half, but much like last week Chicago only led by a touchdown at the half.

The defense took Jake Plummer out of the game early; he went 0-3 on the Cardinals first drive, so Arizona turned to their running gain to move the ball. Michael Pittman and Thomas Jones moved the ball inside the Bear 40, but the drive stalled resulting in a Scott Player punt.

The Bears took over on their 11 and began a 13-play drive, which took 7:32 off the game clock. Chicago mixed three and four receiver sets to open up the field for James Allen and the running game. Allen had two first down runs and carried the ball 5 times for 28 yards on the opening drive. Jim Miller completed all four of his passes for 33 yards. A 46-yard field goal by Paul Edinger capped the drive and put the Bears up 3-0 with 2:42 left in the first quarter.

Cardinal running back Michael Pittman came out of the game with a mild concussion, but returned later in the drive. Without Pittman, Plummer went to the air. He completed passes of 10, 23, 10 and 7 yards to put Arizona within field goal range. Early in the second quarter Bill Gramatica hit a 40-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3.

Chicago has been getting all the breaks this season and their luck continued against the Cardinals. Following the Gramatica field goal the ensuing kickoff hit Glyn Milburn in the facemask sending the ball bouncing forward, but Jerry Azumah scooped it up and brought it out to the 31.

Jim Miller used the playaction pass to throw the ball deep completing a 17-yard pass to Dez White. He then followed with a 25-yard completion to Marty Booker giving the Bears first and goal from the 10. The Bears kept the ball on the ground on first down gaining two yards on Allen's carry. Miller found tight John Davis for seven yards setting up 3rd and goal from the one. With Daimon Shelton leading the way Allen plunged into the endzone for his first score of the year and just the second rushing touchdown of the season for Chicago. The drive took 7:11 and gave the Bears a 10-3 lead with less than six minutes before halftime.

A turnover led to the Cards second scoring opportunity. An under thrown ball by Miller to Marcus Robinson was picked off by cornerback David Barrett, who started for the injured Corey Chavous.

After the interception Arizona took over on Chicago's 36. Arizona was unable to move the ball against Chicago's attacking defense. Once again forcing the Cardinal's to settle for a Gramatica field goal. He hit from 47 yards out cutting the lead to 10-6 with 3:18 left in the first half.

The Bears started their fourth drive of the half on their 31 with 3:09 left in the second quarter. Anthony Thomas had consecutive runs of 7 and 8 yards, which brought the game to the two-minute warning. Chicago went to the no huddle, but continued to keep the ball on the ground, as James Allen gained 15 yards, which is his longest run of the year, to the Cardinal 32.

Allen then caught a nine-yard pass. On the next play Miller fumbled the snap and dove on the ball. However, he was never touched and tried to advance the ball, but he was ruled down resulting in a 9-yard loss. The offense was not able to convert on 3rd and long and Paul Edinger kicked a 43-yard field goal to end the half with Chicago leading 13-6.

Allen's production in the first half alone was better than the three previous games. He had 13 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown in first half.

The Bears looked to have the momentum coming into halftime, but Milburn fumbled the second half kickoff after a hit by Coby Rhinehart. Arizona recovered the ball at the Chicago 30.

As was the case all day the Cardinals offense wasn't able to capitalize on great field position. The Bears defense stood their ground and consecutive holding penalties forced Arizona to punt.

Chicago's offense was not existent in the third quarter gaining just 21 yards. Even when it looked as if they had a big play it was called back. On 3rd and six Miller threw a lob pass to Marcus Robinson for a 29-yard gain, but the receiver was called for offensive pass interference which negated the play. The drive resulted in Brad Maynard's first punt of the day.

Arizona once again had good field position starting at their 46. Arizona moved the ball inside the Bear 30 when Mike Brown forced Pittman to fumble. The ball took a perfect hop into the hands of R.W. McQuarters, who returned it 69 yards for a touchdown. The score put the Bears up 20-6 with 7:33 left in the 3rd. The play was reminiscent of Brian Urlacher's fumble return last week. McQuarters picked the ball up and outran Plummer for the score.

McQuarters' touchdown was his second as a Bear. He returned an interception 61 yards for a score in the last game of the 2000 season at Detroit.

"Mike Brown made a good tackle on Michael Pittman and got a hand on the ball," McQuarters said. "The ball popped out as I was running toward the ball. I got a good bounce and did not have to break stride."

On their following possession Arizona got a 32-yard completion from Plummer to Frank Sanders, which brought them to the Chicago 36. Consecutive penalties then put the Cardinals in 1st and 22. Keith Traylor hit Pittman hard on a 9-yard reception. Then on 3rd down and 13-yard screen pass to Pittman was stuffed by Brian Urlacher for a 1-yard loss forcing another Arizona punt.

"You're not going to win ball games like that in this league especially with the five penalties we had in the third quarter," said Arizona head coach Dave McGinnis. "The third quarter really was the turning point in that ball game." The teams traded punts ending the third quarter.

A 41-yard punt by Maynard, which was downed at the one-yard line by Larry Whigham, looked like it would end any chance of an Arizona comeback.

However, for the first time all-day the defense couldn't stop the Cardinals. Arizona began a 13-play 99-yard drive. Plummer moved the team methodically down the field. The new generation "Captain Comeback" completed 7 of 10 passes for 89 yards. His seven-yard TD pass to Sanders brought the Cardinals within one score with 2:52 left in the game.

"No one likes a 99-yard drive, but I feel pretty good right now," Jauron said. "I'll take the win and go home and enjoy it for 24 hours and then we'll get back to work and see where we made our errors and try to get them corrected. "In some ways there's good reason to play the way we played at the end. That being said, you don't want them to drive down the field, but you also don't want them to get back into the game with one play. You want to make sure you bleed the clock if they do score."

Trailing 20-13 McGinnis decided to kickoff rather than go for an on side kick. The Cardinals had one timeout left and the two-minute warning to stop the clock. The strategy backfired as Arizona took their last timeout after an Anthony Thomas one-yard gain one first down leaving 2:41 on the game clock. However, if Arizona hadn't called the timeout Chicago would have had to snap the ball before the two-minute warning. The mistake cost the team about 30 seconds.

Plummer, who had engineered a comeback in Philadelphia with 1:04 to go and no timeouts, found himself in the same situation against the Bears defense.

The Cardinals took over on their 37 with 1:02 to play. Plummer's pass on first down was deflected by Phillip Daniels. Then on second down Bryan Robinson sacked Plummer after he fumbled the snap, thus ending any chance of a comeback.

"I face them everyday. I know how good they are and can be," said Miller. "They bailed us out so many times today when our offense was stalling and they made play after play. Mike Brown is an unbelievable player and Brian Urlacher is all over the field. The guys up front are doing their job in Bryan Robinson and Phillip Daniels. You cannot go through our defense and see a weak link right now."

The win improves the Bears record to 3-1 and gives Chicago a three game winning streak for the first time since 1995. The team is in second place in the division trailing Green Bay by one-half game.

"It's a great feeling to finish a quarter of our season and be 3-1," Jauron said. "It's very early in the year and that just gives us an opportunity to keep climbing. It's a happy locker room, I'll tell you that.

"It's great for us to have three wins now stacked back-to-back and without a week off in between. This is what a good football team has to do consistently throughout the year. We are so young and we have such a long way to go, but we'll keep working."

Despite the win veteran Blake Brockermeyer knows the team can play better and will have to in order to sustain a winning season. "We should have put them away a lot sooner than we did," Brockermeyer said. "You never know in this game, they could have tied us up and we would have went to overtime."

The way the Bears are playing it will be difficult to catch any team by surprise the rest of the year.

"Being 3-1 you cannot really sneak up on anyone," Brockermeyer said. "Until we beat a top-tier team, like Baltimore, there will be a lot of doubters."

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