Orton had thrown five interceptions his entire senior year at Purdue. On Sunday, the rookie had thrown that many by the time 10:08 remained in the third quarter. Five different Bengals came up with interceptions and they turned three into 17 points to run their record to 3-0.The Bears, meanwhile, fell out of first place in the NFC North at 1-2.
Only once in Bears history had a quarterback thrown more interceptions -- seven by Zeke Bratkowski on Oct. 2 in 1960 -- and no Bear had thrown for five in a game since Larry Rakestraw did it Sept. 22, 1968 at Detroit.
"Last week we won as a football team and everything went right for us," coach Lovie Smith said of the team's 38-6 win Sept. 18 over Detroit. "Today it felt like the total opposite; it was a team loss."
It's just that the offensive side of that team made more mistakes. Sunday marked the second straight week the Bengals' defense produced five interceptions, the first time an NFL team had done this in 34 years.
Bears wide receiver Bobby Wade also contributed a fourth-quarter fumble that killed a scoring threat.
"You can't have six turnovers," Smith said. "It doesn't matter what else you do. If you have six turnovers it's going to be along day for you."
A week after scoring a passer rating of 103.3, Orton had a Henry Burris-style passer rating of 14.7.
At halftime, he had completed four passes to the Bengals and four to his teammates as the Bears trailed 10-0. Safety Madieu Williams, cornerback Tory James, cornerback Keiwan Ratcliff and linebacker Brian Simmons each picked off first-half passes.
Orton finished 17-of-39 for 149 yards.
The Bears credited the Bengals with designing a defensive scheme perfect for facing an inexperienced quarterback.
"They did some confusing things," wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad said. "They tried to do some things, they gave us some different looks and they did good job today of doing just enough to try to create a hesitation or a little bit of doubt (in) Kyle."
The first interception was more physical than mental. Orton threw behind Justin Gage and Gage was hit by safety Kevin Kaesviharn as he tried to pull in the ball. It popped into the air and Simmons picked it off.
On the Bengals' first play from scrimmage after the pick, Carson Palmer threw a perfect strike to Chad Johnson between Bears defenders Charles Tillman and Mike Brown for an 18-yard touchdown only 1:09 into the game.
It was the first of three big passes Palmer threw for scores. Following a third-quarter Deltha O'Neal interception, he hit Chris Henry for a 36-yard score behind Tillman that make the score 17-0, and Johnson again behind Nathan Vasher for a 40-yard TD early in the fourth quarter to make it 24-7.
"The law of averages catches up to you and there's no way in this league, professional football, that you're going to win a game when you turn over the ball that much and when you give up three big plays the way we did," Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said.
The Bengals failed to move the ball consistently on the ground, averaging 2.4 yards per rush with 83 yards on 34 carries. Yet Palmer was as flawless in the face of a good pass rush as Orton was flawed.
Palmer completed 16-of-23 for a 130.3 passer rating, the sixth straight game he's been in triple figures for a passer rating.
"I don't think anyone in this locker room solely puts the blame on Kyle," Tillman said. "As a defense, we didn't make any plays. I gave up 14 points.
"I think the blame is on ourselves, the team, not just one particular person."
The Bears' defense gave up a critical score on Johnson's second TD catch, which came three plays after Orton, running back Thomas Jones and the offense had strung together a 14-play scoring drive.
Jones, who had 106 yards on 27 carries, ended the march with a 2-yard TD run to get the Bears within 17-7, but three plays later Palmer found Johnson for a 24-7 lead with 11:56 left in the game.
"The defense did a great job of keeping in it," Orton said. "It wasn't like I was out there playing scared. We still thought we had a great chance to win the game.
"Obviously we went in at halftime down 10 points and even when we were down 17 we still thought we had a great chance to win the football game. We kept on fighting and I tried to keep on fighting. Some bad things happened."
A lot of them happened. And now the Bears have a bye week and a full two weeks until they face the Browns to find ways to prevent them from happening again.