Here we go again. Another Monday night experience for the Bears.
Players always say Monday Night Football is a chance to prove something to your peers, a chance for the entire country to watch you play. This Bears team is out to prove they're not one of the worst editions in franchise history by avoiding an eighth straight loss.
The Bears already have caught a break. In case you haven't heard, Marshall Faulk's ankle isn't up to it and he'll sit out the game. That means the running duties fall to rookie Lamar Gordon. Quarterback Kurt Warner is out, too. But this isn't good news because his backup, Marc Bulger, has led the Rams to four straight victories, putting up Warner-esque numbers in the process.
ABC's sports promotion department had to dig deep to come up with something nice to say about the Bears in commercials leading up to this game. They went with: "The resurgent Rams (true) take on Brian Urlacher and the tough Bears defense (a stretch).
The Rams take the kick and start on the ground with Gordon, who doesn't get much. ... The Bears pressure Bulger on second and he throws it away. ... Third down, Bulger finds Gordon, who picks up 17 yards.
I love how all the Ohio State guys have to stress the "the" in the player introductions. As in "Orlando Pace, The Ohio State University." Of course the Bears' R.W. McQuarters became the first guy in the history of Monday night intros to over-stress the "the" in Oklahoma University. R-Dubs.
OK, Gordon picks up a yard on first down and Bulger goes deep to Torry Holt but it's over-thrown. Jerry Azumah got his feet tangled with Holt but no flag. ... Gordon fires one to a wide-open Isaac Bruce for a first down. Ladies and gentlemen, they're not booing, they're saying "Bruuuuuce" ... Bulger hits Bruce again to the 3 and Rams fans are Brucing again. ... First and goal and Gordon slips a Brian Urlacher tackle and gets back to the line of scrimmage. .... Gordon dives into the pile and gets to the one, bringin up third down. ... Bulger fakes to Gordon inside and then hands it to tight end Ernie Conwell, who dives into the end zone. That was a cool play. Conwell came in motion from his spot on the line and took the handoff in stride. ... Whoa, five yards on me for excessive italics. Sorry about that. It's fixed.
Rams 7, Bears 0
More football after the obligatory beer commercials.
Ahmad Merritt takes the kick, bounces off a few guys and is tackled at the 25.
This coming back from commercials just for the kickoff and then going to another two minutes of ads has to go. David Letterman does this sometimes. Of course, they don't have a kickoff, but they show the band for five seconds and then go back to commercial.
Here we go, Chris Chandler throws on first down and hits Marty Booker at the 50. I don't have the stats handy but that had to be the first time the Bears threw on the first play of the game in two years. ... Anthony Thomas runs for a couple on second and Chandler throws incomplete, intended for Booker. The Bears are flagged for 12 men in the huddle. Too bad they couldn't have gotten away with that. ... On third and 11, the Rams' ends come hard and Chandler has to unload an ugly pass that's almost intercepted by a defensive tackle. Al Michaels says the Bears have gone 10 straight games without scoring on their opening possession. That sounds about right.
The Rams start at their own 8 and Bulger finds Conwell on first down for a big gain. Conwell just knocked Mike Green out of the way with a hand. A 52 yard gain and tack on 15 yards for a personal foul against McQuarters. ... Gordon gets nothing on first down, but Holt takes an end around with Bulger out front blocking and gets to the 10. The 10. Seriously. You get the feeling the Bears will be lucky if they cover. ... Hey, Rosevelt Colvin strips Bulger at the 15 and the Bears recover. Let's see. The 15. That means the Rams should get the ball at midfield after the Bears punt.
Rookie Alex Brown recovered that fumble. Leon Johnson runs on first down for a yard. ... Grant Wilstrom hit Chandler from the blindside as he unloaded to Booker for a short gain. ... Chandler goes to Booker again for a first down. The Rams are called for a 15-yard facemask. John Madden is already ripping the Bears. "It's too bad Marty Booker doesn't have better players around him." ... Chandler throws deep to Marcus Robinson but it's way overthrown--and out of bounds. ... Chandler fakes to Johnson and keeps it himself for six yards. Is that a designed play? ... Chandler trips on center Kevin Dogins' foot, gets up and is sacked. Here comes the punt. ... Fake punt straight out of the '40s. Maynard put the ball behind his back, kicks in the air and runs for the first. Old skool. ... Speaking of which, Thomas runs hard on first down for a first down. ... Chandler is sacked again, this time by the extra cornerback. ... Chandler is almost sacked again and draws a roughing the passer call. First down the hard way. The Rams are blitzing every other play, trying to get to Henry Burris, no doubt. ... From the 11, Thomas gets nothing. ... Chandler rolls left and is sacked by Wistrom at the 23. Penalty on "Big Cat" Williams for something. A chop block, I believe. End of first quarter.
Third and 20 and John Madden is imploring the Bears to take a shot at the end zone. Of course the Bears run the dreaded wide-receiver screen to Robinson for nothing. I thought Gary Crowton was in Utah. ... Paul Edinger's kick is good.
Rams 7, Bears 3
Two questions: Why do the Bears continue to go with this wide-receiver screen in long-yardage situations and how does Rob Schneider continue to get movie roles?
I believe John Shoop is behind both.
Melissa Stark reports Bulger's hand is hurting. That just means Kurt Warner would come in. How unfair is that?
ABC comes out of commercial bumping to St. Louis native Nelly over shots of the Rams cheerleaders. Of course they edited out the part of the song about taking off all your clothes. Hey, this ain't Fox.
Urlacher stuffs Gordon on a third and 4 and the Rams will have to punt. I'm not sure what happened in the two previous plays. I was thinking about the video for that Nelly tune.
Johnson runs on first down for a couple yards. Bulger left to have X-rays. Here comes Warner and possibly many shots of his silver-haired wife, who has to be related to Cloris Leachman. ... Chandler hits tight end John Davis for 10 yards. ... Chandler lofts one to Booker but instead it's right to Dre' Bly. Bly drops the ball and immediately drops to the turf and does 20 push-ups. I believe Mike Brown used that move last season. ... Johnson runs for a couple on second, bringing up second and 2. ... Chandler throws long, unforunately it's to the fullback Stanley Pritchett, who flat out drops the ball. No tricker here: Maynard's punt is fielded at the 15.
Can someone please explain what a HEMI Magnum is?
Here's Warner. He rolls right on first down and is sacked by Big Ol' Keith Traylor. ... Warner throws incomplete to Holt. Maybe Warner's pinky is still hurting. He throws out of the end zone to Holt but it's short of the first down and a rare three and out for the Rams.
Johnson busts the return into St. Louis territory.
The commercials-to-plays ratio has to be 20/1.
The Bears start at the 35 and Thomas runs for four. ... Thomas picks up a few on second and quickly the Bears face a third down and Chandler is sacked for the fourth time. Bulger is throwing on the sideline. Edinger is good from 48 yards.
Rams 7, Bears 6
Warner puts the headset back on, a sure sign Bulger will be back.
The Rams are called for holding on the kickoff, which negates Terrence Wilkins' nice return. They'll start from the 18. ... Gordon takes a screen pass for five yards and then finishes the job with a run up the middle for a first down. ... Bulger hits Conwell on the right sideline for 15 yards. The Bears are challenging if Conwell was inbounds. The replay shows he is not. A replay finally goes the Bears' way. Why is Gerry Austin taking so long to make this call? Finally, Austin announces the call is reversed. ... So, it's second and 10 and Bulger throws it out of bounds. ... On third down right guard Adam Timmerman is called for false start and then Bulger takes a timeout, which means more commercials.
Bulger throws long intended for Bruce and it's picked off by Mike Brown at the 29. As good as a punt.
Thoms runs three times and gets the first down. The Bears trot out the Marty Booker option play and Booker throws incomplete. He avoided a sack, too. Can you run the same trick play every game?
I'm starting to believe the two-minute warning is just another excuse for more commercials.
From his own 38, Chandler flips to Davis for eight yards and then calls timeout. More commercials? No, a little video montage of Chandler getting sacked. On third and one Leon Johnson is stuffed and the Bears will have to punt.
The Rams will have one timeout and 1:32 to go 81 yards. ... The Bears rush three and Bulger finds Troy Edwards for nine yards. ... Bulger has all day and threads it to Bruuuuuce who runs out of bounds at the Bears' 34. Todd McMillon didn't even put his hands up to defend. ... The Bears are called for encroachment and then Holt is called for offensive pass interference on McMillon in the end zone. So that brings up first and 15 at 45. ... Bulger finds Holt at the 22. ... Bulger lofts one to Gordon, two Bears defensive backs run into each other, and Gordon struts into the end zone. Urlacher missed Gordon and took Larry Whigham out in the process.
Rams 14, Bears 6
Will this Gary Glitter song ever die?
Reader Steve Lacey explains a HEMI Magnum is "a retread motor from Chrysler from the '60s. Great for takeoffs and speed but awfully inefficient. And by the way, third and 1 and again we run wide?"
OK, all joking aside Marc Colombo just had his knee rolled and the replay is reminiscent of Joe Theisman. He's carted off the field.
Back to football, third and 12 and Leon Johnson is tackled by six Rams defenders. He losses his helmet and Leonard Little throws it. Flags fly.
Gerry Austin: "We've got a personal foul, throwing the helmet."
It's fourth and forever and the Bears snap it right to Booker, who scrambles and throws out of bounds. Halftime. What's for dinner?
Merritt fields the second-half kickoff at the goal line and makes a nice return to the 36.
Melissa Stark, sporting a new haircut, reports Marc Colombo dislocated the patella in his right knee.
Chandler throws to Booker on first down for a short gain and then Thomas runs up the middle for the first down. ... Chandler takes a two-step drop and fires to Dez White for an eight-yard gain. ... Thomas picks up the first down. ... The Bears have thrown on two straight first downs. Make that three, but this time it's behind Marcus Robinson. On second and long, Chandler hits Booker on a nice play-action sideline pass for a first down. ... Chandler throws it away and it's second and long again. ... A short dump to Robinson nets five yards. ... Chandler hits Pritchett in stride and it's a first down at the 15. Huh, so this is what happens when you throw the ball. ... Chandler hits Pritchett again but for only a yard. The Rams blitz; the Bears counter with a draw play to Thomas, who runs through a huge hole and into the end zone. What has gotten into John Shoop? The Bears go for 1 and Al Michaels is questioning that move. Gotta agree there. Two points ties the score.
Rams 14, Bears 13
That is the best the Bears have looked offensively in a long, long time. They threw on first down. They threw on second down. They sniffed out a blitz, ran a draw play and scored. It took them 10 games to figure this out?
Do they have to vacuum in here now?
Bulger took a pain-killer shot at halftime and is playing with a numb throwing hand. Numb hand and all, Bulger hits Conwell for a first down. ... A delay of game penalty makes it third and 12 and Mike Caldwell breaks through for a big sack.
I apologize if the play by play is lacking, but I'm trying to eat this very spicy Thai food as fast as I can. I'm glad no one's here because I feel like George Costanza eating that sundae at the U.S. Open.
Thomas loses a yard on first down and then Chandler hits Davis for six. ... Chandler is dropped for the six time. Third-down sacks are killers. Not that I'm telling you anything you don't know already. The Bears punt and Todd McMillon runs into the returner before he has a chance to make the catch. That's a 15 yard penalty and the Rams will start at midfield.
Gordon runs left, spins and breaks one down the sideline for a 30-yard gain. ... Bulger takes a shot at the end zone but Bruce is double covered and the ball is under-thrown.
Again with the vacuum. There can't possibly be that much carpet in this place.
Urlacher, lined up at end, comes unblocked and sacks Bulger. Mike Martz clearly has no confidence in kicker Jeff Wilkins because the Rams forego a 49-yard field goal attempt and punt.
Bulger and ESPN's Andy Katz have to be related.
The Bears return to their old ways and run on first and second down succession. They'll face a third and long when we start the fourth quarter.
The vacuum has stopped but the acid reflux has kicked in. Pass the Gaviscon.
Chandler throws a four-yard pass to Marcus Robinson. Unfortunately the Bears needed six yards. Punt.
Rabih Abdullah hit returner Terrence Wilkins so hard it knocked him back five yards and around 180 degrees.
Keith Traylor bats Bulger's pass right back to the quarterback. Bulger gets the completion and the reception. That makes it third and 5. ... Bulger finds veteran Ricky Proehl just beyond the first-down marker. ... To the air again, Bulger hits Bruce for a big gain to the Bears' 38. Bulger just eclipsed 300 yards. ... Under pressure, Bulger unloads incomplete. ... So third and long and Edwards comes back to the ball and stretches for the first down. It'll be close. The Rams get a good spot and it's a first down by the length of the football. ... Second and 10 from teh 28, Bulger hits Bruce, who shakes Azumah and is tackled at the 15. Much Bruuucing after that catch and run. ... And just like that Bulger hits Proehl on a crossing pattern at the goal line. Touchdown.
Rams 21, Bears 13
Another car question but our we supposed to know who Harley Earl is in these new Buick commercials?
Chandler throws an incompletion has a ball batted down and is nearly sacked on third and long. He picks himself up and limps off the field as the punting unit comes on.
I Googled Harley Earl. Turns out he's considered "the father of automotive design." Here's to Harley.
The Rams go three and out on three Bulger incompletions.
Chandler hits Booker for eight yards and then finds Pritchett in stride down the sideline to the 29. Timeout Bears. The Rams are challenging the questionable spot. Pritchett stepped out of bounds at least twice before he was forced out. The refs move the ball back to the 35. ... Thomas runs up the middle and the Bears are called for holding, which moves them out of field-goal range. ... Bly knocks down a Chandler pass attempted to Booker. Booker is down and they're looking at his ankle. He got tangled with Bly on the play. He's walking off the field. Meanwhile I feel like I've been sitting here for a week. It's 11:15 and there's still over 5 minutes remaining. I'm going to miss the Leonids. ... Second and 20 is a great situation to run the ball right up the gut, so the Bears do and get three yards. Third and 17. ... Chandler hits Dez White on a short slant. Is it me or do the Bears settle for field goals on first down and then, like a high school team, run a few plays to get the ball in the middle of the hash marks. Edinger's kick is good.
Rams 21, Bears 16
The Rams think the Bears will try an onside kick and bring everyone up, but the Bears kick it deep and there mass chaos. Bly hustles back and fields it and is tackled by Leon Johnson. ... Gordon runs right on first down and is stopped for no gain but stays in bounds. ... Bulger throws incomplete and that stops the clock. ... Bulger rolls right and hits a sliding Holt, who stays in bounds and gets the first down. Huge play there and it forces the Bears to burn a timeout. ... Gordon runs up the middle and the Bears call their final timeout. ... Gordon runs for about six and this will take up to the two-mintue warning.
ABC just flashed a graphic comparing the first four games of Warner and Bulger. They were both 4-0 and had thrown for about 1,500 yards. The Rams find guys like this in Iowa IGAs and the Bears draft Cade McNown.
Mike Green stops Gordon short of the first down and the Bears will get the ball back--with no timeouts. Maybe the Rams will lend them Warner for the final series. A huge punt pins the Bears back. They'll have to go 76 yards in just over a minute.
Chandler dumps one low to Booker who can't hang on, prompting this gem from Madden:
"In this situation, I think you have to throw passes beyond 10 yards."
Chandler is sacked and then throws behind Dez White and it's almost picked off by Dre' Bly. Fourth down. This is it. Bears have to get a first down. And they don't. Incomplete. That's eight straight losses, people.
Bulger ends up on Madden's silly horse trailer and the Bears will fly back to Chicago in silence.
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