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Tough Crowd, but Bears Gain Some Respect

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Defensive end Alonzo Spellman made a tackle and was booed. Linebacker Bryan Cox sacked the quarterback and was booed. Backup quarterback Rick Mirer merely entered the game. More boos.

So much for home-field advantage.

Despite such nasty treatment from their fans--those who showed up, anyway--the Chicago Bears played their best game this season in defeating the Buffalo Bills, 20-3, Sunday.

“It’s tough here in Chicago. If you have a winner, this is the best place in the world to play. But like anybody, no one wants to see mediocrity,” said Erik Kramer, who atoned for two first-quarter interceptions by passing for 270 yards and two touchdowns. “I don’t blame them for not wanting to see it.”

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Chicago (3-11) has allowed 380 points, the most in its 78-year history, but played well defensively for the second time in three games. Buffalo (6-8) got only 160 total yards.

The Bears were bolstered by the return of Spellman, who missed nine games because of a shoulder injury. During his absence, Spellman was suspended by the team for refusing to undergo recommended surgery and suspended by the NFL for failing to take a steroid test.

Cox was booed by fans who consider him an overpaid troublemaker. Mirer, a bust since being acquired in an off-season trade, got razzed when he trotted into the game in the fourth quarter to mop up for Kramer.

One of the fans’ favorites, Raymont Harris, rushed for 59 yards before leaving in the third quarter with a broken left leg. He finished the season with 1,033 yards, becoming the seventh Bear player to run for more than 1,000.

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Paid attendance was 66,944, but that included 27,160 no-shows, perhaps fitting for two non-contenders playing in freezing weather at Soldier Field.


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