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The schedule gods continue to look kindly on the Bears. The 1-6 San Diego Chargers have made their way to Soldier Field via Arizona and Champaign. They may actually be worse than last week's opponent, the Detroit Lions, who made the Bears and their rookie-laden lineup look like a playoff team.
The one thing the Chargers have going for them that the Lions didn't is LaDainian Tomlinson--one of the best young backs in the league. Tomlinson alone could make this a long misty fall afternoon for the Bears' shaky run defense.
Once again Kordell Stewart is the third QB, which means we may see Rex Grossman this week. The other inactives are receiver Marty Booker, defensive tackle Keith Traylor, running back Adrian Peterson, safety Mike Green, guard Corbin Lacina, defensive tackle Tron LaFavor and tackle Scott Sanderson.
Booker's absence means the two rookie receivers Justin Gage and Bobby Wade are active. The way these guys have played you get the feeling they've earned permanent roster spots. Also Anthony Thomas is back from his foot injury.
The Chargers are bad--really bad. To make matters worse they've been shacking up in Champaign this week because of the fires in California. A few days in Champaign would make anyone angry.
We'll have football soon.
Just asking but is Adrian Peterson the only backup running back in the league with his own commercial? Do they show these spots nationally or are they zoned regionally? Does anyone in the country have a clue who he is? Do Bears fans? He probably runs for more yards in that commercial than he has in his career (170).
I'm not sure the Bears have won a toss at home all year. Paul Edinger will kick and we're off to see some football. Anyone wondering what happened to Tim Dwight, I've found him. He's returning kicks for the Chargers.
Tomlinson runs left for a few before being stopped by Jerry Azumah. He tries the other side and is stopped by Bobby Gray after 9 yards and a first. Tomlinson runs again and is dropped for a loss of 4 by Lance Briggs. Drew Brees scrambles for a first but it's called back because of a hold. The Chargers punt and R.W. McQuarters brings it back to the 24.
Very rare appearance by the Bolts at Soldier Field. They've played here only twice, the first in 1981, which was my first Bears game. I remember John Jefferson's Recspecs goggles and Bob Thomas kicking a field goal to win it in overtime. Ah...youth.
Chris Chandler goes right to Gage down the sideline for a 24-yard gain. When's the last time that's happened on the first play? Thomas runs for a few and then Chandler hits Dez White for a first. Thomas again, this time for about 9 and the Bears are at the Chargers' 29. Thomas for 9 more and a first and the Bears are moving the ball, well, not like the Bears. Chandler overthrows a wide-open White in the end zone. But White had stepped out at the 3, so no matter. Thomas is stuffed at the line. Curious call on second and 10. Setting up the field goal early, I guess. Chandler again goes for White in the corner of the end zone but it's broken up and nearly picked. Here's the predicted field goal. By the way, Bobby Wade was wide open in the middle of the field there. Kick good.
Bears 3, Chargers 0
Dwight takes the kick 15 yards. Bryan Robinson tackles Tomlinson. Tomlinson catches a screen and runs for a first. Thomlinson again. He breaks loose, stiff arms Mike Brown but is dragged down. Nice tackle by Brown. Big third down here just in Bears' territory and Tomlinson dives for a first. The Chargers jump early, setting up a second and 11. Brees hits free-agent flop David Boston for 10 yards and then Tomlinson is stuffed by Phillip Daniels and Briggs on third down. Field goal attempt upcoming. Shank you very much, Steve Christie. Brutal kick there isn't even close. Almost looked like it was tipped. It was by rookie Joe Odom, apparently pumped up by Purdue's dismantling of Northwestern yesterday.
Look at Chandler go! The 38-year-old takes off for 11 yards. Thomas runs for a few and, drop everything, the dreaded wide-receiver screen to White picks up a first down. Quarter ends.
The Bears grind out a first down with three short passes down to the 30. Thomas is stuffed by safety Jerry Wilson for a loss. But Chandler comes back to find Wade for 11 yards, bringing up third and short. Thomas breaks through a big hole in the middle and picks up the first and nearly the touchdown. He's brought down at the 6 after a 15-yard run. Thomas squeezes through an opening and dives to the 1. Thomas again and he fails to get in the end zone. It was close. But not close enough. Third and a very short 1. The Chargers' Quentin Jammer is down and I'm up to get some more coffee. Here we go and Thomas scores easily.
Bears 10, Chargers 0
Edinger's kick is taken at the 20. Yes, the 20. Quite harry-high-school like.
Add a 18-yard return and the Chargers will start at their own 37. Tomlinson runs for a few. Brees goes deep to Boston but Charles Tillman picks it off over his left shoulder. His second pick in two weeks. The Bears take over at their own 12.
And Chandler goes right to Gage who makes a spectacular twisting catch down the near sideline for 28 yards. Chandler is then sacked for a loss of 3. Chandler is hit as he throws. If not for a trip by Gage the ball would've been picked off. The Bears get 7 back with a quick toss to White. Terrell then picks up 13 to bring up fourth and 3. Brad Maynard will punt. Eric Parker fumbles the punt but the Chargers fall on it at the 12.
Tomlinson picks up 3 yards. A quick strike to Boston gets 5 yards. Mike Brown stuffs Tomlinson on third and 2 and the Chargers will punt.
The Bears are flagged for holding on the punt and will start things off at their own 14 as the sun makes its first appearance of the day. As fast as I write that, it's gone. Thomas picks up 2. Two minutes left in the half. Consider yourself warned. So, third and 5, Dez White lets a ball go right through his hands. Would've been a first. Odom nails Parker as soon as he catches the ball. Two words, son: fair catch.
The Chargers waste a lot of energy going no where but end the series on an entertaining play where Brees scrambled all over the joint before throwing a pass that McQuarters nearly picked off. R-Dubs also laid a lick on Kassim Osgood for good measure.
With under 50 seconds left, Chandler is sacked for a loss of 5 and then the Bears run the clock out. Halftime. Let's see what kind of sausages they have this week up here.
Azumah nearly breaks the second-half kick but settles for a 29-yard return. Italian sausage, by the way. Thomas runs for 14 yards across midfield. And the Bears stall there. Thomas is stuffed and a silly screen to Ahmad Merritt gets nothing. On third and 8, Chandler finds Terrell but White is called for false start. Dez not having one of his best games so far. Third and 13. Chandler finds Terrell and Terrell runs backwards. Maynard to punt.
The Chargers hang out near the south end zone for a good three minutes and go no where on a combination of incomplete passes and penalties. To make a long story short, they'll punt. The Bears take over in good shape at the San Diego 44.
White catches a pass for around 7 yards but then fullback Stanley Pritchett flat out drops a wide-open pass. The Bears will go for it on fourth and 1 and Thomas dives across the line for the first. Chandler lofts one to Desmond Clark, who makes an over-the-shoulder catch at the 10 before being tackled at the 2. Thomas is stuffed for no gain. And then stuffed in the backfield for a 2-yard loss. Third and goal from the 5. Dez White drops a touchdown. Hit him right in his hands. Just bad. Inexcusable. White's bad game just turned into a nightmare. Edinger kicks a consolation 22-yard field goal.
Bears 13, Chargers 0
After a nice return, the Chargers start at midfield. Brees throws to Dwight, but Tillman makes a nice play over Dwight's back to knock the pass down. Tomlinson catches a quick out for 3 yards to bring up third and 7. Brees misses a wide-open Dwight and the Chargers will punt. McQuarters makes a fair catch at the 11.
Doug Flutie is warming up on the sideline. Looks like Brees has gotten the hook.
Dez White actually holds on to a ball and picks up 18 yards out to the 33. Chandler goes right back to White and White lets it go through his hands. Drop No. 3. Thomas runs for a few and picks up five more when Kwamie Lassiter grabed his facemask. Thomas picks up 3 and then plunges a yard for the first at the 45. Thomas is dropped in the backfield as the quarter ends.
Chandler tries for Dez White, but it's picked off by rat-packer Sammy Davis and the Chargers stop that drive.
Ditka pet Doug Flutie is in the game. Here comes the comeback, folks. Flutie and Tomlinson move the Chargers down the field with relative ease to the Bears' 8. Tomlinson runs for 5 and a first and then powers 3 yards for the touchdown. The Chargers go 74 yards in eight plays in just over 4 minutes without needing a third down. Hello, Mr. Flutie.
Bears 13, Chargers 7
The Chargers squib kick and John Gilmore falls on it at the 30. Wade catches a Chandler pass, breaks a tackle and picks up about 20 yards. Thomas then runs for a few. But then Chandler throws an interception and had a pass tipped at the line. Maynard will punt and Tillman makes a great play to down the ball at the 1. Here comes Flutie with 99 yards in front of him.
San Diego challenges whether the ball touched the goal line. From this angle it appeared Tillman kept it out. Honestly, from this angle I can't tell a thing. Play stands.
Flutie throws twice to the fullback. Tillman clips Lorenzo Neal down and then Azumah takes care of him. Third and 2 from the 9, Flutie scrambles and is stopped by Azumah. Looks like he's short, no pun intended, but it'll depend on the spot. Questionable spot. First down.
Tomlinson runs for a few and then Flutie hits him with the shovel pass for a few more. Third and 5 from the 16. After an incomplete pass, the Chargers punt and McQuarters takes the kick running and nearly broke it all the way before being tackled at the 21.
The Bears need a few firsts not to mention a touchdown and this one's over. San Diego calls timeout. There's a first. Thomas powers for 11 yards and the Chargers call their last timeout. Thomas just went over 100 yards rushing. Two minutes left, second and goal from the 5 and Thomas runs for 3. Thomas can't get in and that brings up fourth and goal at the 1. The Bears let the clock run down and call timeout. The Bears are going for it and I don't understand this at all. With 21 seconds left it's about impossible for the Chargers to get 9 points. Anyway, Thomas runs it in for the touchdown. The refs will take another look at this one. Replay shows it's a touchdown. Let's get this over with.
Bears 20, Chargers 7
Flutie completes a pass out near midfield and then a short one across midfield and an incomplete pass as time expires.
That's it, everyone. The Bears have won two straight and next week they go to Detroit, where every teams goes when it needs a victory.