ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Last year, Ken Mastrole played in the minor
leagues of Arena ball, while holding down a part-time job helping
kids in Florida. He was making $200 a week.
This year, Mastrole is trying to make the Chicago Bears. He took
a small step closer to proving himself Friday night by leading the
Bears to a come-from-behind 19-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams. "I'm just happy to be here,'' Mastrole said, "and I'm really
grateful that the Bears gave me the chance to show what I could.'' Mastrole, a fourth-stringer out of Rhode Island, entered the
game with 2:17 left and the Bears trailing 19-13. He directed an
81-yard drive, capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass to Kenny
Christian with 55 seconds left. "I knew I'd get open,'' Christian said. "They made a little
bit of a mistake and I capitalized.'' The key play for the Bears (1-1) was a 52-yard completion from
Mastrole to Christian that put Chicago at the Rams' 16. Mastrole
was 3-for-7 for 68 yards on the drive. "It was great they gave me a chance to play,'' Mastrole said.
"It's tough to perform well when you don't get many reps in
practice. I got my shot and I made the most of it.'' Chicago coach Dick Jauron said he appreciated Mastrole's play.
"He did a nice job and showed some real poise,'' Jauron said. "I
liked the way he handled himself on the field.'' The Rams (0-2) played without halfback Marshall Faulk, who sat
out his second consecutive game. Faulk is healthy, but coach Mike
Martz didn't want to take any chances with him. Halfback Trung Canidate rushed for 89 yards on 21 carries and
caught two passes for 50 yards. Kurt Warner played four series, completing 4 of 8 passes for 52
yards. He was sacked once. "This was an important game for us,'' Chicago linebacker Bryan
Knight said. "The Rams are a very good team that will no doubt
challenge for the race in the NFC. Our defense showed it could play
with them.'' Bears starting quarterback Jim Miller directed two scoring
drives before giving way to veteran backup Chris Chandler. Miller
was 6-of-8 for 78 yards. He was sacked twice. Rams rookie running back Lamar Gordon had 49 yards rushing on
six carries. He caught four passes for 50 yards before spraining
his left ankle late in the second quarter. X-rays on the ankle were
negative. The Rams snapped a 10-all tie on a 26-yard touchdown pass to
backup tight end Brandon Manumaleuna with 12:32 left in the game.
Third-string quarterback Mark Bulger found Manumaleuna in the end
zone to end the four-play, 56-yard drive and give St. Louis a 17-10
lead. However, Nate Jacket returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards to
the St. Louis 8. Ronald Rogers, a cornerback, made the
touchdown-saving tackle by leaping and grabbing Jacket's ankle. On
third down, Jamin Elliott dropped a pass in the end zone that
Chicago challenged but lost. Jon Hilbert kicked a 33-yard field
goal, cutting the Rams' lead to 17-13 with 10:51 left. Bulger finished with 189 yards on 13-of-19 passing. Bulger was
sacked seven times. The Bears jumped out to a 10-0 lead before the Rams came back.
With 4:48 left in the first quarter, Warner engineered an
eight-play, 71-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard TD catch by
tight end Ernie Conwell. The score came on 4th-and-1.
Rookie CB Travis Fisher started in place of Aeneas
Williams, who suffered a bruised left leg while hit in practice by
receiver Yo Murphy on Wednesday night ... The matchup was just the
fourth in the preseason between the two clubs. Chicago leads 3-1
... Rams rookie SS Steve Bellisari sustained a left knee sprain. He
will be evaluated Saturday.