Cardinals roll past Bears

Matt Trowbridge

The ball lay on the Arizona 5-yard line after Alex Brown sacked Kurt Warner.

Arizona guard Mike Gandy got to it first. Warner then threw a 24-yard pass on third-and-25, followed by a 56-yard punt and a dropped 43-yard pass by Chicago’s Johnny Knox. The Bears’ chances for a miracle win evaporated as quickly as everything else in Sunday’s 41-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

“That was big,” coach Lovie Smith said. “That entire sequence. When you get yourself back in position at home, normally with momentum, good things happen. But that’s the way our day went. In critical situations, we didn’t make a play.”

The Cardinals (5-3) had dominated so thoroughly in building a 34-7 lead they pulled Warner, who threw five touchdown passes, and put in backup Matt Leinart. But a bad Leinart interception and Jay Cutler’s second and third TD passes to tight end Greg Olsen brought the Bears to within 34-21 with more than nine minutes to play.

“There was a glimmer of hope there,” said Cutler, who threw for 369 yards, seventh-highest in Bears’ history.

The glimmer grew larger after the Cardinals put Warner back in and he fumbled at the 5 with eight minutes left. But the Bears (4-4) then went back to playing the way they did the first 50 minutes, starting with Arizona picking up a blitz and coming within inches of converting a third-and-25 play.

The Cardinals had started the game 8-for-8 on third down in building that 34-7 lead.

“You’ve got to get off the field on third down,” Smith said.

“Every down,” corrected defensive end Adewale Ogunleye. “Every down we weren’t able to stop them in the first half.”

Warner, who had a 135.9 passer rating a week after throwing five interceptions, threw a 23-yard pass to Steve Breaston on third-and-10 on the third play of the game. On the fourth play, defensive tackle Tommie Harris was ejected for sucker-punching Arizona guard Deuce Lutui as he lay on the ground.

And then it just got worse, as the Cardinals duplicated the Bengals’ feat against Chicago of scoring on their first six possessions, including all five in the first half. Warner threw TD passes of 11 yards to Larry Fitzgerald, 6 yards to Ben Patrick, 17 yards to Fitzgerald and 15 yards to Anthony Becht.

Chicago couldn’t even stop Arizona with 22 seconds left. After Antrel Rolle returned a partially blocked Robbie Gould field-goal attempt to the Chicago 49, Warner threw two passes for 24 yards, then spiked the ball to set up a field goal at the buzzer for a 31-7 halftime lead.

“They scored every … single … possession that first half,” Alex Brown said, pausing between each word for dramatic effect. “Every one. They had 40 seconds or something before the half, and they scored.

“We’re better than that. But there’s going to be a lot more games like that if we don’t start playing better.”

Chicago’s third loss in four games, interrupted only by a win over woeful Cleveland, left the Bears searching for answers.

“I don’t know what the (heck) is wrong, but we’ve got to change it,” Brown said.

Smith said the Bears “have some soul searching to do” after allowing 320 yards in the first half alone, and triple Arizona’s rushing average (182) for the game.

“Anybody who doesn’t feel bad after that shouldn’t be here,” Brown said. “That’s horrible. We stunk up the place.

“I don’t really know what to do. We keep saying go home and soul search and look at yourself, but I don’t know, there might be something more.”

Smith, as always, tried to remain positive.

“We know things have to change,” Smith said, “but if they do, we still can accomplish our goals.”

Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at 815-987-1383 or