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Grossman throws INT, not TD, in loss
After the first exhibition game, Rex Grossman vowed to play better.
After the second, he swore that the first-team offense would score points.
The goal now must be to score a touchdown.
With the regular-season opener looming two weeks from Sunday in Green Bay, this isn't the time to be taking baby steps.
In the most important exhibition game on anybody's schedule, with starters playing into the third quarter, the Bears' first-team offense settled for two field goals in a 23-16 loss to Arizona on Friday night at Soldier Field.
Making matters worse, the first-team defense allowed its first two touchdowns of the preseason, one directed with ease by rookie quarterback Matt Leinart (15 of 21, 144 yards).
After saying this week he'd be "shocked" if the first-team offense didn't produce, Grossman and the first unit were booed off the field after several possessions by the crowd of 49,486.
"It's obviously no fun to be booed," Grossman said. "At the same time, it's a reminder we've got to get things done. They want to see points on the board, touchdowns. So do we.
"I don't like being booed. But I understand their frustration."
Grossman finished 13 of 21 for 117 yards, an interception and a passer rating of 57. His next touchdown pass will be his first.
"We moved the ball better, but the name of the game is scoring, and we've got to get in the end zone," coach Lovie Smith said.
In true Chicago fashion, where the backup quarterback always seems to be the most popular Bear in town, Brian Griese received the loudest cheers of the night when he entered to start a third-quarter possession.
Those cheers intensified when Griese directed a seven-play, 73-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Four Griese passes resulted in first downs, and he found rookie fullback J.D. Runnels for a 2-yard touchdown, his fourth TD pass of the preseason.
Griese finished 10 of 14 for 131 yards and a touchdown.
"I know things are going to come around," Grossman said. "I just have that feeling."
The emotional boost expected from the return of Thomas Jones never materialized. Jones rushed for only 3 yards on four carries as the Bears continued to struggle in establishing a ground game.
Grossman, with solid protection giving him time to throw, completed his first five passes on the opening drive. He converted two third downs with passes of 14 and 22 yards to Muhsin Muhammad, the first a pretty, diving catch. Working from the Arizona 32, Grossman then barely missed Muhammad at the goal line, throwing to the outside shoulder when the receiver looked in.
The Bears settled for Robbie Gould's 49-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Arizona took a 7-3 lead when Leonard Pope made an athletic grab of a 4-yard touchdown pass from Kurt Warner to cap a 14-play, 67-yard drive. Two of Arizona's six first downs came off penalties, including pass interference on Dante Wesley.
The Bears marched right back on a wild possession that featured four offensive penalties, three defensive and an overturned interception, settling for a 39-yard field goal from Gould.
The game turned late in the first half.
That's when Grossman directed a drive that started at the Bears 27-yard line featured three first downs, including a 15-yard pass to Muhammad and an 11-yard strike to Bernard Berrian. But Arizona wrapped up Adrian Peterson on a fourth-and-2 from the Cardinals' 14.
"We have to finish drives, especially in the red zone," Grossman said.
Leinart, looking wise beyond his years, then carved up the Bears' defense for a seven-play, 54-yard drive in 55 seconds. Neil Rackers' 49-yard field goal on the final play of the first half made it 10-6.
"We lost containment a couple times on third downs," Smith said. Berrian dropped a Grossman pass on the second play of the second half. Then Grossman threw an ill-advised pass to Berrian on a sideline pattern that Antrel Rolle intercepted. Leinart made the Bears pay, marching Arizona 42 yards in seven plays and finding Bryant Johnson on a 4-yard TD pass.
With the starters out, former Bear Nick Novak added field goals of 50 and 19 yards to make it 23-6.