Lackluster performance
Bears turn the ball over three times in first half
Bears turn the ball over three times in first half

Posted Aug 23, 2003


TEMPE, Ariz. _ The Bears' first-string offense on Friday ran the two-minute drill like clockwork in a 27-17 preseason loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Of course, there are still 28 other minutes in a half and not much else went right for the first string then. They went into the locker room with a 17-10 deficit in a game the Cardinals (3-0) completely dominated prior to the 90-yard Bears march to tight end Desmond Clark's 20-yard touchdown catch with eight seconds left in the first half.

"Penalties always cost you and it cost us in the first half," head coach Dick Jauron said. "Turnovers always kill you in any football game and we turned the ball over. Their points (were) all field-position points that we gave up on sloppy play."

In the first half, the Bears' first-team offense lost the ball on an interception, a fumble, suffered three sacks of Kordell Stewart and was called for a holding penalty. They converted only 1-of-8 third-down situations and ran for only 33 yards, 15 of those on a scramble by Stewart, who went 13-of-18 in the game for 139 yards.

"Kordell told me he felt like he was really pressing," Jauron said. "As he said it, `the harder I press the less that happens.' So when he got to the two-minute drive it was really good for all of us."

Bears starters weren't alone in turning over the ball. Quarterback Rex Grossman threw two second-half interceptions, including one on a pass right to Cardinals cornerback Robert Cromartie to set up a 37-yard Arizona drive to the winning touchdown. That TD broke a 17-17 tie and came on a 3-yard fourth-quarter run around left end by former Northwestern star Damien Anderson with 9:51 left to play.

Grossman's other pick came in the end zone on the ensuing series with 3:52 to play and Arizona converted that into the game's final points, a 50-yard Bill Gramatica field goal with 2:34 to play.

One of the Bears' four first-half penalties didn't cost them because it came one play before Clark's TD catch. They actually scored two first-half touchdowns, except David Terrell got flagged for offensive interference for shoving off of third-string defensive back Nijrell Eason in the end zone before making a 10-yard TD catch.

Then Terrell compounded his penalty by punting the football into the stands in celebration, thinking he'd actually scored a touchdown.

It was just one in a series of bad plays for Terrell on the night. He dropped the first pass thrown to him, and in the third quarter got flagged for holding downfield to wipe out a 22-yard run by Rabih Abdullah.

The Bears (1-2), however, came right back after Terrell's holding with a 37-yard, game-tying Chris Chandler TD bomb to Edell Shepherd to make the score 17-17.

The Cardinals turned an interception by Coby Rhinehart of Stewart into a 43-yard Tim Duncan field goal with nine seconds left in the first quarter for a 10-3 lead. They converted Adrian Peterson's lost fumble on a dump-off pass into a 12-yard Jeff Blake-to-Freddie Jones touchdown pass with 14:18 left in the second quarter for a 17-3 lead.

"It wasn't good," Stewart said. "I know I wasn't good the first quarter, the first quarter and a half. But when we finished with the two-minute drive there was some positive."

Even the Bears' defense had trouble holding onto the football. Defensive end Alex Brown deflected a second-quarter Jeff Blake pass into the air, intercepted it and turned it up field. But he fumbled when hit by Blake and lost it to Anquan Boldin.

"You're trying to score, but the most important thing is trying to keep possession of the ball and I didn't do that," Brown said. "So that's an overall bad play.

"I was running and I just think with the sweat, it just came out. Bad. Bad."

"We can't turn the ball over when we get it," Jauron said. "That was a huge play by Alex. He's just got to protect that football. We can't give the ball back to them when we take it away."

A Bears special team snafu helped make possible the Cardinals' other first-half score. Rookie Charles Tillman got called for interference when he nailed Boldin trying to field a punt. The 15 yards gave Arizona the ball at the Bears' 35 and teed up a TD drive, which ended in Emmitt Smith going in from 4 yards out for a 7-0 Arizona lead.

Prior to its two-minute drill, the Bears' first-team offense did sustain one drive of 29 yards to Paul Edinger's 51-yard field goal with 8:11 left in the first quarter. The kick cut Arizona's lead to 7-3.

Stewart played the entire first half. During the 90-yard TD march, he hit on 7-of-8, including eight straight.

"It was good to see Kordell executing the two-minute offense," Jauron said. "He can play better, but he also made some big plays. He made a big play on the (15-yard) run, throws the ball into the end zone (to Clark) at the end.

"He has a lot of confidence, the players have a lot of confidence in him and that's a big plus for us."

Stewart's only interception of preseason came on a play when he was blindsided just as he released the ball.

"We have two weeks where we've got to get back and get stuff done," center Olin Kreutz said of the line's blocking. "We're going to go to work. We've got to look better than that come Sept. 7 or were not going to be very good."


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RB Rabih Abdullah (profile)
DE Alex Brown (profile)
QB Chris Chandler (profile)
TE Desmond Clark (profile)
QB Rex Grossman (profile)
C Dick Jauron (profile)
WR Edell Shepherd (profile)
QB Kordell Stewart (profile)
WR David Terrell (profile)
CB Charles Tillman (profile)
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