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Bears fall on last-second field goal
It wasn't exactly a no-hitter, considering the five turnovers the Bears defense and special teams forced.
But the struggling Bears brought their offensive problems home with them Sunday night as Phoenix squeezed out a 12-10 victory at Soldier Field.
A 41-yard field goal by Al Del Greco at the gun won the game for the Cardinals in front of a crowd of 55,513. The Bears' preseason record fell to 1-2; the Cardinals improved to 2-0.
"It was pretty much typically a preseason game," said Bears coach Mike Ditka. "It wasn't an exhibition in great kicking."
The Bears' Kevin Butler made 1 of 5 field goal attempts and Del Greco was 1 of 3, including a second-half miss from 22 yards.
"Certainly, when I missed the short one, I thought: 'There goes my chance of making the team,' " said Del Greco. "When I missed the second one (from 44 yards), I thought I was out of here for sure. The defense came through and caused a fumble (by P.T. Willis). It just seemed like I was destined to have another chance."
Ditka, who plans to make a number of cuts this week, chose to look at the bright side.
"I really thought they played hard," he said. "Everybody we put in the game tried. I was very impressed with the defensive hitting out there. That was the main thing we were trying to get out of it.
"There were way too many mistakes on offense and missed opportunities in the kicking game. But anytime you get five turnovers you should score more than 12 points. You can't put the burden on the defense at all."
The Bears gained only 41 yards on the ground, led by quarterback Jim Harbaugh's 15 yards on two attempts.
"We did not run the ball very successfully, and that bothers me because I think you have to run the ball effectively to win," said Ditka.
The Bears were without star running back Neal Anderson, who sat out the game with a bruised lower leg.
Backup quarterback Willis was sacked twice and completed only 5 of 15 passes for 83 yards.
"Hopefully, things will work out," said Willis. "I've never experienced this before. A couple coaches said I was just throwing the ball too hard. I'm not blaming anybody. I played terribly. I'm not going to make any excuses."
Cardinals quarterback Timm Rosenbach moved his team 70 yards in eight plays during the game's opening drive, culminating with an 11-yard TD pass to Ernie Jones for a 7-0 lead.
"We came out and just had a terrible first drive and let them push the ball into the end zone," said Bears defensive end Trace Armstrong.
After a 23-yard kickoff return by rookie Darren Lewis, the Bears passed their way to the Cardinals' 26. Harbaugh completed passes of 25, 7 and 22 yards to fullback Brad Muster. But Butler, in his first game after a long contract holdout, missed a 44-yard field goal attempt.
Willis mishandled the snap from center on the field goal try that wound up sailing wide right.
Bears safety Mark Carrier picked off a Rosenbach pass in the second period and returned it 46 yards to the Cardinals' 27.
After tight end James Coley dropped a pass over the middle that would have provided a first down, Butler trotted out and missed a 38-yard field goal that went wide left with 6:34 remaining in the half.
Another interception, this one by rookie free agent John Hardy, set up the Bears' next scoring opportunity. Hardy returned the pass 28 yards to the Cardinals' 11.
Lewis gained five yards before Harbaugh's pass intended for Wendell Davis in the end zone was dropped. Harbaugh then tossed a 5-yarder to Glen Kozlowski to set up a fourth and one from the two. Lewis burst through the right side of the line for the touchdown and Butler converted to tie the game 7-7.
Harbaugh completed 11 of 17 passes for 111 yards in his first-half stint. He was sacked once.
The Cardinals took a 9-7 lead in the third period when rookie long-snapper John Cook centered the ball over the head of punter Maury Buford and out of the end zone.
"He just threw it too hard," said Ditka. "He made a heck of a snap, if the guy was about 8 feet tall."
Backup Cardinals quarterback Tom Tupa passed over the middle to Derek Hill, who fumbled when hit by rookie Tim Lance. John Wiley recovered for the Bears with 2:30 left in the third period.
"I was impressed with Tim Ryan, (Chris) Zorich and Michael Stonebreaker," said Ditka. "I thought John Wiley made a couple of good plays out there. And John Hardy made a nice interception."
Del Greco made the most of his final field goal opportunity.
"The guy showed he had ice water in his veins. It says a lot about the young man," said Cardinals coach Joe Bugel.