Pro football

Bears' defense saves the day -- again

2012-09-23T21:00:00Z 2012-09-25T14:18:07Z Bears' defense saves the day -- againAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
September 23, 2012 9:00 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Stop us if you've heard this before.

In Sunday's unsightly 23-6 win over the St. Louis Rams, the Bears averaged 3.0 yards a carry, and Jay Cutler had a quarterback rating of 58.9.

NBA great Bill Russell often said he'd rather be lucky than good, and the Bears were all of that as their defense came to the rescue once again, galloping across Soldier Field with trumpets blaring.

"The Bears played good defense. They are very good up front. Very good," said Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who once played for Chicago.

St. Louis (1-2), with 16 rookies on its roster, was held to 12 first downs and 160 total net yards.

Of the Bears' 23 points, all but six were set up by either turnovers or costly penalties by St. Louis.

"We thought we had a chance to win during the entire game. We came in here expecting to win," Rams' middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said.

"This one is tough to swallow," weakside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar said. "It's going to bother me for a few days."

The Bears (2-1) were without leading rusher Matt Forte, also their No. 2 receiver, thereby putting a crimp in their short passing game.

But backup Michael Bush, eager to prove his starter's worth, couldn't wait to step into Forte's spot. He was decent enough, rushing for 55 yards and a touchdown.

"I made sure I prepare to be ready when it's my turn. I think I did a pretty good job," Bush said. "It was kinda ugly, but I got it done."

Chicago led 10-3 at the break, courtesy of two St. Louis penalties – roughing the punter, roughing the passer – that led to Robbie Gould's 54-yard field goal and Bush's 3-yard scoring run.

Held to 58 total yards the first half, the Rams' lone highlight was rookie Greg Zuerlein's 56-yard field goal.

Gould added kicks of 22 and 37 yards; Israel Idonije accounted for 2 1/2 of the Bears' six sacks, and Major Wright's 45-yard touchdown interception return was a game-breaker early in the fourth quarter.

"Our defensive line has played outstanding ball all year, and they set the tone today," Bears coach Lovie Smith said.

Cutler completed 17-of-31 passes for 183 yards and was sacked twice. As bad as he was, he did not scream or bump any teammates.

"The idea is to win. It's not a one-on-one tennis match," Cutler said. "Every position's got to improve, offensively, including myself."

In all fairness, the Hoosier native didn't get much help from his receivers as Devin Hester let a ball slip through his grasp in the end zone, and Brandon Marshall couldn't hang onto another at the Rams' 1.

"Yeah, it's frustrating," Cutler agreed. "We want to catch all the balls. I missed a few throws, though, so it's a part of the game." 

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