Say goodbye to the Detroit Lions and San Diego Chargers. Real football returns to Soldier Field this Sunday as the Bears play host to the St. Louis Rams.
The Bears have had success against the run at times this season, but today clearly is their biggest test to date. Marshall Faulk returns from injury just in time to drop the Bears down the NFL run-stopping rankings.
Kordell Stewart. Any questions?
So where's Rex Grossman, you ask? The rook has been listed as the team's No. 3 QB, which means the Grossman era still is on hold.
The Bears hope the former Greatest Show on Turf will be slowed a bit by the wet grass in Chicago. Unfortunately the Bears have to run on the same slippery stuff. The weather on the lake is misty. The top of the skyline normally visible over the north-east corner of the stadium is mostly obscured by the low-hanging clouds. If it's not windy, it's raining. It's often both. Welcome to fall in Chicago.
Coin toss: Rams call heads. They win the toss and take the ball. The PA guy cranks "Bawitdaba" as they Bears kick. I thought we left Kid Rock in Detroit.
Marc Bulger goes to work. Scratch that. Faulk goes to work. A gain of 2. Faulk again. Runs right for 5 yards to the 31. On third and short flags fly, fingers point. False start on the rams. Make that third and long. Here we go again: Bulger's pass is tipped at the line by Bryan Robinson and the ancient Sean Landeta will punt. McQuarters takes the punt sideways for a return of zero yards.
Chandler hands to Thomas, who runs through a big hole, makes a guy miss and gets to midfield. Twenty-one yard gain. Thomas picks up 2 more. Thomas gets another 2 to bring up third-and-6. Chandler's pass intended for Desmond Clark hits a Rams linebacker in the butt. Brad Maynard's punt bounces at the 5 and Ahmad Merritt makes a great play leaping into the end zone and batting the ball back into the field of play where it's downed at the 3. Let's see the replay on that one. Guess not. Instead they show a car commercial. OK, here's the replay. Merritt was a yard in the end zone. Bad call but Mike Martz decides not to replay.
Good call. Bulger hits Isaac Bruce and the Rams are out to the 20 anyway. Bulger goes to a wide-open Torry Holt for 10 yards. Jerry Azumah played that poorly. He was running up field long after Hold curled back towards the line. After Faulk ran for no gain, Holt moved early and the Rams face second-and-15. Bulger finds Dane Looker for 7 yards. Bulger looks for Holt, but Charles Tillman steps in front of the pass and grabs his third interception of the year. Tillman really got physical with Holt there. He basically knocked him out of his route.
The Bears start at their own 49. Chandler lofts one long to Terrell. It's badly under-thrown and Jerametrius Butler takes this one away. Rams' ball at the 18. Bryan Knight has replaced Lance Briggs at the strong-side linebacker. It's looks like Briggs may be having some sort of equipment problem. Faulk runs twice for short gains. Bulger hits Bruce for 8 yards and a first down. Bulger hits Holt at midfield. The receiver stiff-arms Tillman and a flag flies. May be face mask. Wait. No foul. First down after the 23-yard gain. Bulger looks for Holt on a crossing pattern. Tillman is flagged for interference. Good battle here between Holt and Tillman. First down at the 37. Gain of 9 on the penalty. Bulger lofts one to Faulk towards the end zone but it's incomplete. Faulk pleads for a flag. Tillman on the coverage. Bulger lobs one to the same spot, this time to Bruce and Bobby Gray breaks it up. Rams use their first timeout.
Hey, solid celeb sighting: Jonathan Winters walking down the hallway. He's on the Rams' honorary advisory board, along with Bill Cosby, Dick Gephardt and Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Do the Bears have one of these?
OK, a Briggs update. He's having back spasms and his return is "questionable." Remind me not to drink any more coffee.
Back to football. Third-and-15, Bulger tries for Faulk but puts too much on it. Decent defensive stop by the Bears. Punt coming; downed at the 10.
Thomas is stacked up at the line. Chandler's pass is batted up in the air and Clark snares it for a 5-yard pickup. Justin Gage drops the third-down pass and the Bears will punt. Pass was behind hm a bit, but he should've held on. Maynard's punt is short and the Rams start at the 42.
Bulger finds Holt for 11. Then to Bruce, who is brought down after 2 yards by a nice tackle by Tillman. Some sort of wacky reverse is sniffed out by Keith Traylor and Urlacher takes down Cameron Cleeland in the backfield. Bulger hits Holt on a crossing patter. Holt picks up a block and is finally taken down by Mike Brown. Gain of 11 yards but not enough for the first. Fourth-and-one. Bulger doesn't like what he sees and calls timeout. Instead they'll kick. The 41-yarder is good. Briggs was out there on special teams.
Rams 3, Bears 0
The Rams kick it away from Azumah. Rabih Abdullah fields the kick and takes it to the 31.