First Quarter: When in doubt, run punter
Injured defensive tackle Ted Washington was in the Bears' locker room before Monday night's game, offering encouragement. The Bears could have used the 365-pound Washington on the field in the opening quarter, however, as the Rams marched 65 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead. St. Louis converted three third-down plays during the drive, a 17-yard pass from Marc Bulger to Lamar Gordon and a 21-yard pass to Isaac Bruce before tight end Ernie Conwell burst into the end zone on a 1-yard inside reverse.
Marshall Faulk was inactive for Monday's game because of a strained tendon in his left foot that kept him out of practice last week. But Gordon, in his first career start, acquitted himself like a veteran in the early going.
The Rams appeared on their way to another easy TD starting from their own 8-yard line. Bulger hooked up with Conwell on a 52-yard completion, and the Rams picked up another 15 yards on a personal foul against R.W. McQuarters. Following a 14-yard gain by Torry Holt on a reverse, the Rams were in business at the Bears 11. Two plays later, Bulger was sacked by Rosevelt Colvin to force a fumble and Alex Brown recovered.
The Bears resorted to a razzle-dazzle play with a fake punt on their next possession. Brad Maynard faked a handoff behind his back to running back Rabih Abdullah, then took off for a 20-yard gain that advanced the Bears into scoring position.
First quarter MVP: Ernie Conwell
Second Quarter: Warner squashed in cameo
The reward for the Bears' innovative first-quarter fake punt was a 37-yard field goal by Paul Edinger to make the score 7-3.
With Marc Bulger tending to a sore finger, Kurt Warner began warming up. After the Rams forced the Bears to punt, Warner took the field with 9:47 left in the second period. Warner was sacked on his first play when he rolled right and 340-pound Keith Traylor landed on top of him.
Edinger added a 48-yard field goal with 6:15 left in the period to pull the Bears to within 7-6. Edinger's second three-pointer of the evening gave him 16-of-19 conversions this season, including a career-high 12 straight spanning eight games.
Bulger replaced Warner on the Rams' next possession. An apparent 15-yard pass play from Bulger to Ernie Conwell was contested by coach Dick Jauron and the Bears won the challenge, returning the ball to the Rams' 31-yard line.
Mike Brown intercepted a deep pass by Bulger on third down. It was Brown's third interception of the season.
The Rams cashed in on their next possession, however, as Bulger tossed a soft pass to Lamar Gordon, who eluded Brian Urlacher and Larry Whigham for a 22-yard TD play and a 14-6 advantage with :42 left in the half. Bulger completed four passes for 86 yards on the drive.
With 0:17 remaining, Bears first-round draft pick Marc Colombo, the starting left tackle, dislocated his left kneecap while trying to pass protect for Chandler.
Second quarter MVP: Marc Bulger
Third Quarter: Channel surfers go on hold
The Bears managed to keep "Monday Night Football" fans from changing channels early in the quarter as quarterback Chris Chandler engineered an 11-play, 64-yard march that resulted in a 13-yard scoring burst by Anthony Thomas. Paul Edinger's extra point pulled the Bears to within 14-13.
Thomas entered the game ranked 18th on the Bears' all-time career rushing list with 1,777 yards. After running for 99 yards on 21 carries last week against New England, he surpassed Rashaan Salaam (1,682), George McAfee (1,685) and Bill Osmanski (1,753) and he needed 70 yards Monday night to move past Beattie Feathers' four-year total of 1,846 yards.