Stewart lets his passing speak for itself

Kordell Stewart refused to take the bait. <P> Stewart had a perfect platform for arguing he should be the Bears' starting quarterback again over Chris Chandler after passing the team to a 28-3 victory Sunday over the Arizona Cardinals. He didn't.

"Once again, Chris is the starter," Kordell Stewart said after throwing for 284 yards, his fifth-best passing total ever. "He hurt his shoulder and he's been given the job and it was my responsibility as a backup to just come in and do what I was supposed to do.

"That's just the way it goes."

Chandler's sore right shoulder prevented him from playing, but his availability against Green Bay Sunday hasn't been ruled out.

Bears coach Dick Jauron was asked the same question about Stewart.

"We'll see, but off of that performance, we'll have to see how Chris is," Jauron said. "He (Stewart) had a terrific day today."

Stewart, who completed 22-of-37, hadn't thrown for this many yards since he completed 20-of-31 for 333 yards in 2001 for Pittsburgh against Baltimore. His only yardage totals higher came in three games in 1997 when he first became the Steelers' starting quarterback.

It was the most Bears passing yards since Jim Miller threw for 353 in Week 5 against Green Bay last year.

In Denver last week, Stewart hadn't completed a fourth-quarter pass as offensive coordinator John Shoop continually moved him around in the pocket or called bootleg passes and quarterback runs.

Stewart enjoyed the fact Shoop ran move of a conventional offense Sunday like the Bears used when Chris Chandler played, after the Cardinals started bringing defensive ends, linebackers and defensive backs off the edges to prevent any rollout or bootleg action.

"It was exactly the way it's been over the past few weeks with the three-step and five-step drops and sometimes seven steps," Stewart said. "It was the Bears' offense is what it was.

"It wasn't trying to make everything conducive around what I do, in a sense."

Stewart threw deep for 57 yards to Justin Gage on the first series to set up a TD, hit Bobby Wade for a 23-yard slant on that series and found Dez White in the fourth quarter for a 29-yard completion to set up the Bears' final touchdown.

Shoop said it wasn't just Stewart that ignited the passing attack. Receivers were open for a change.

"They did a good job of getting today," Shoop said. "And for the next four games, and next week, they've got to do another good job of getting open.

"There were some guys that were wide open today. We need that next week, too."

Although he wasn't petitioning for the starting job, Stewart certainly wouldn't turn it down if it comes his way.

"I had an opportunity individually and took advantage of it," Stewart said. "And as a team we played well.

"I'll just let the forces that be take over and do what they want to do."


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