8:00 PM ET, August 18, 2006
Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Bears carried over the tradition they established last year: Score early and often, just not on offense.Brian Urlacher showed why he was the NFL's defensive player of the year, intercepting a pass on the game's third play from scrimmage and returning it 64 yards for a touchdown. Then, near the end of the opening quarter, Rashied Davis took a kickoff the length of the field, going 100 yards for another TD.The two plays got the Bears off to a fast start and they beat San Diego Chargers 24-3 Friday night."He just threw it right to me," Urlacher said of Philip Rivers' errant pass intended for Antonio Gates. "I caught it and went into the end zone."Chargers running back Michael Turner broke three tackles on a tough 45-yard run around the right side before Nate Kaeding kicked a 43-yard field goal to cut the Bears' lead to 7-3.But on the ensuing kickoff, Davis bounced off a scrum at the 20, broke outside, put a nice fake on Kaeding and outran Terrence Kiel to give the Bears a 14-3 halftime lead."I just ran in the hole where I was supposed to hit and it clogged up. I bounced off, saw something to the right," Davis said."At that point you try to find something to make something happen. When I got around the corner or through the hole or whatever, I noticed it was just me and the kicker."Dealing with an aggressive Chicago rush and taking some hard hits, Rivers played the first quarter and more than half the second before he was replaced by Charlie Whitehurst.Rivers completed nine of 14 passes for 75 yards and made one of the best plays of the first half. Shaking off two tacklers, he rolled left and threw a 21-yard pass to Malcom Floyd on the sideline.But Urlacher's interception was still on his mind after the game."Obviously there was one particular play that was really poor," Rivers said. "But at the same time, I'm not going to dwell on it. It's easy to correct. I threw it right to the guy. It's going to happen. You'd rather have it happen tonight than down the road."Rivers was 15-of-21 for 169 yards and one touchdown last week in a win over Green Bay."They have a terrific front unit and they put more pressure on us than obviously we saw a week ago," Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "We're going to have to step up to that because the level in which we're looking to go, that's the defensive level you're going to face."Bears quarterback Rex Grossman, a shaky 3-for-11 in the preseason opener last week against the 49ers, looked sharp late in the second quarter by hitting passes of 24, 14 and 10 yards to drive the Bears to the Chargers 24. But when he tried to hit Gabe Reid in the corner of the end zone, Marlon McCree cut across for the interception."I wish I had it back," Grossman said. "I forced it."Grossman finished 7-of-14 for 83 yards. Brian Griese took over in the second half, played two series, completed two of four passes for 16 yards and threw a touchdown pass before Kyle Orton entered the game."It was better. Not great, but better," Grossman said of his performance. "I don't know what happened last week."A pair of rookies helped the Bears increase their lead to 21-3 in the third. Devin Hester returned a punt 42 yards and P.J. Pope had a 14-yard run on a fourth-and-1 from the Chargers 29, setting up Griese's 9-yard TD pass to Justin Gage.Rookie Jamar Williams recovered a San Diego fumble, leading to a 49-yard field goal by Robbie Gould early in the final quarter. Jason Harmon intercepted a Whitehurst pass in the end zone with just under seven minutes remaining to stop a Chargers' scoring threat.Neither team's top running backs played. Chargers' star LaDainian Tomlinson rested and the Bears' Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson are injured.There were 15,220 no-shows at Soldier Field in the Bears' preseason home opener.
Whitehurst completed 11-of-19 passes for 97 yards. ... The Chargers were hurt by 11 penalties for 90 yards. ... Bears leading receiver Muhsin Muhammad didn't play, either, so he could rest nagging injuries.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||5.1||3.6|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|TD||1:31||Brian Urlacher 64 Yd Interception Return (Robbie Gould Kick)||0||7|
|FG||13:41||Nate Kaeding 43 Yd||3||7|
|TD||13:57||Rashied Davis 100 Yd Kickoff Return (Brad Maynard Kick)||3||14|
|TD||5:42||Justin Gage 9 Yd Pass From Brian Griese (Robbie Gould Kick)||3||21|
|FG||0:51||Robbie Gould 49 Yd||3||24|