Step Forward

Although, coaches say the preseason isn't about the final score the Bears were happy to leave with a 19-17 comeback victory over the Rams Friday night.

The game ended in dramatic fashion. Trailing 17-13 Chicago took the ball at their 19-yard line with no timeouts. That's when fourth string QB Ken Mastrole entered the game. After avoiding a blitz he connected with Kenny Christian on a 51-yard bomb bringing the ball to the Rams 15-yard line. Three plays later the Bears hadn't moved forward and faced 4th and 10. Mastrole went back to his new found favorite target. This time Christian caught 15-yard TD pass, which turned out to be the game winning score, with 55 seconds left.

"It's always good to win," said head coach Dick Jauron. "Kenny (Christian) did a great job at the end. He made two terrific catches and won the game."

With then a minute on the clock and leading 19-17 Jauron decided to go for two points to avoid an overtime scenario. The Bears conversion failed, but thanks to three sacks on St. Louis QB Marc Bulger Chicago held on to win.

John Shoop came out aggressive throwing on five of seven plays during the Bears opening drive. The result was more productivity on the possession (66 yards) then in the entire game against the Broncos (44 yards). Jim Miller went 4/5 on the possession including a 21-yard pass to Dez White that moved the Bear's in Ram territory. Miller continued to go to White, who caught four passes for 59 yards on the drive. A 26-yard TD pass to White, which gave Chicago a 7-0 advantage and capped the seven-play drive.

White caught 45 balls last year, but none of them went for a touchdown.

"It was important to get Dez (White) involved," said Miller. "The pass was scheduled to go to David down the middle, but I saw Dez abuse Dre' Bly."

The Bears defensive starters continued to impress. The unit forced the Rams high-powered offense into consecutive three and outs to begin the game. St. Louis was held to –14 yards of offense over that span thanks in part to a Roosevelt Colvin sack of Kurt Warner.

In all, Chicago sacked Rams quarterbacks eight times including five by a pair of rookies. Linebacker Bryan Knight had three sacks, while DE Alex Brown added two.

The Bears offense began to mix the run and pass on their second drive. Anthony Thomas carried three times for 22 yards. White caught his fifth ball of the game, which gave him 70-yards receiving. A 36-yard Paul Edinger field goal extended the Bears lead to 10-0.

In two series Miller went 6/8 passing for 78 yards and one touchdown.

It took the Rams more than ten minutes to get a first down. However, once the Bears starters went to the sidelines St. Louis began to pick up their play. A 19-yard run by Trung Canidate sparked the offense. A flurry of passes from Warner to Torry Holt for 16 and 23 yards respectively moved them downfield. On 4th and 1 from the four the Rams went for it and scored on 4-yard TD catch by TE Ernie Conwell, cutting the score to 10-7.

The Rams fumbled on their next two possessions that stopped mounting drives. Karon Riley forced the first turnover as he knocked the ball from the grasp of Canidate. LB Mike Caldwell recovered the ball.

Then third string running back Lamar Gordon was running toward a score but Larry Whigham went headhunting knocking the rookie's helmet off and jarring the ball lose. Bobbie Howard recovered the ball just outside the end zone. The helmet to helmet hit could result in a fine for Whigham.

A 36-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins tied the game at ten going to the half.

The Bears second offense followed their poor performance against the Broncos with a similar showing for most of the game.

The return game continues to be strength early in the preseason. Following a Rams go-ahead touchdown pass from Bulger to TE Brandon Manumaleuna, Knight was flagged for a personal foul. The kickoff was moved to the 45 and was sent five yards deep into the end zone by Wilkins, but instead of taking a touchback Nate Jacquet brought the ball out and cut across the field finding nothing but open field. Despite being tripped up from behind Jacquet's 95-yard kickoff return gave the Bears first and goal from the eight-yard line.

However, the Bears couldn't capitalize on the field position. A false start by Marc Colombo pushed the team back five yards. Then LB Courtland Bullard sacked Henry Burris. On 3rd and 15 it looked as if the Bears tied the game on a TD catch by rookie Jamin Elliot in the back of the end zone, but the play was ruled incomplete.

Jauron challenged the call and it looked like there was enough evidence to support his claim. Still, the play stood and the Bears had to settle for a 33-yard field goal by Jon Hilbert, which cut the lead to 17-13 with 10:51 left in the game.

Chicago had a chance to trim the deficit on their next possession, though a 46-yard field goal by Edinger went wide right.

Joe Tafoya, who had two sacks in the game, tackled Canidate behind the line of scrimmage on third and two forcing the Rams to punt.

Mastrole's game winning drive followed.

"It was all I had so I might as well make the most of it," Mastrole said referring to being inserted with just over two minutes left in the game and trailing 17-13. He doesn't have long to enjoy his first game action of the year.

"I'll bask in it for now, but it'll be time to get back to work next week."

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