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San Diego at Chicago

Bears' geezer (Chandler) bests Chargers' (Flutie) 20-7

SportsLine.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- After being idle the past two weeks, the A-Train is rumbling again.

Anthony Thomas ran for 111 yards and a pair of 1-yard scores to lead the Chicago Bears to a 20-7 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. It was Chicago's second victory in a row and third consecutive at home.

"We're trying to get a rhythm and momentum going for us," said Thomas, who missed the last two games with a sore foot.

Doug Flutie did his best to spoil the Bears' fun, though. Ten days after his 41st birthday, Flutie nearly pulled off another comeback after replacing Drew Brees in the fourth quarter.

He found Tim Dwight on a 22-yard pass and rushed for another 17 yards to set up LaDainian Tomlinson's 3-yard score that pulled San Diego within 13-7 with 9:13 to play.

San Diego's defense got Flutie the ball back with plenty of time left. But Bears cornerback Charles Tillman downed the punt at the 1, and Flutie couldn't get the Chargers beyond the 17.

"I was just excited about the opportunity to get on the field and do something," Flutie said. "When you don't play and contribute, you feel like you're on the outside looking in a lot, especially when you're losing. ... You just want to be able to help out and do your part."

Thomas ended any hope of a comeback with his own six-play, 21-yard drive, capping it with a 1-yard scoring run.

Chicago quarterback Chris Chandler was 21-of-30 for 224 yards. It was the 38-year-old's first 200-yard game since he threw for 423 yards on Dec. 23, 2001, when he was with Atlanta.

Flutie was 8-of-11 for 70 yards for the Chargers (1-7). His 19 yards rushing included that 17-yard scamper that was San Diego's longest ground gain of the day.

Tomlinson gained 61 yards. Brees was just 7-of-15 for 49 yards with one interception and had a passer rating of just 26.8.

The Chargers' QB switch "was a decision that was made to see if we could get a spark, and we got a bit of a spark. It did some more than that," coach Marty Schottenheimer said.

Schottenheimer hasn't decided who will start next week, but Brees has Flutie's vote.

"The bottom line is Drew's the starter and I'm his backup," Flutie said. "It's my job as the backup to come in, try to spark the team when I can, rally the troops.

"Being on the sideline, you sit back and you can just watch and see, and it's a lot easier to come off the bench after you've been watching what's been going on for a couple quarters," he added. "It's very difficult, week after week, to keep coming back and taking the loss. It just makes it a little tougher."

The loss was the latest blow for the Chargers, who haven't played at home since Sept. 21, and have been on an odyssey worthy of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. They were supposed to play host to Miami on Monday night, but the wildfires that have ravaged Southern California forced the game to be moved to Arizona.

Concerns over poor air quality also persuaded the Chargers to abandon their practice facility this week. They flew to Champaign, Ill., late Wednesday night and practiced at the University of Illinois for two days before coming to Chicago on Saturday.

But the extra time in Illinois didn't make the Chargers feel any more comfortable: They fell behind 13-0 to the Bears (3-5).

"I'm not smart enough to know that," Schottenheimer said when asked if the last week took a toll on his players. "I don't think so, but I'm not smart enough to know whether it did or not."

The Chargers were dismal through the first three quarters, managing just four first downs and 85 yards. They went five consecutive series without a first down, and missed a field goal on their only scoring opportunity of the first half.

When Flutie came in, though, the Chargers started crackling.

"I'm from that area, and I've seen him play on television a number of times," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. "He can throw the ball a long way, he's got a strong arm and he's obviously very agile. He converts a lot of third-down plays himself, and he makes you call a different kind of game."

They had five first downs on the lone scoring drive, and gained 74 yards. But scoring from his own 1 is tough even for Flutie, and the Chargers came up short again.

Notes

  • Thomas now has three 100-yard efforts in his past four games.
  • Rookie Bears cornerback Charles Tillman had an interception for a second consecutive game.
  • San Diego receiver Reche Caldwell left the game with a mild concussion.


AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
 
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Bears RB Anthony Thomas chips off the block of Desmond Clark (88) for a second-quarter touchdown.
 
Bears RB Anthony Thomas chips off the block of Desmond Clark (88) for a second-quarter touchdown. (AP)
 

 

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QTR,
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Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
FGPaul Edinger 38 Yd, 8:33. Drive: 9 plays, 56 yards in 3:37.
2ND QUARTER
TDAnthony Thomas, 1 Yd run (Paul Edinger kick is good), 9:27. Drive: 12 plays, 64 yards in 7:48.
3RD QUARTER
FGPaul Edinger 22 Yd, 4:27. Drive: 9 plays, 40 yards in 4:21.
4TH QUARTER
TDLaDainian Tomlinson, 3 Yd run (Steve Christie kick is good), 9:13. Drive: 8 plays, 74 yards in 4:04.
TDAnthony Thomas, 1 Yd run (Paul Edinger kick is good), 0:21. Drive: 6 plays, 21 yards in 2:47.
San Diego
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
D. Flutie8/117000
D. Brees7/154901
RushingATTYDSTDLG
L. Tomlinson1661114
D. Flutie219017
J. Chatman1000
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
D. Boston429010
J. Peelle223017
T. Dwight122022
L. Tomlinson421010
J. Chatman21609
L. Neal2805
Chicago
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
C. Chandler21/3022401
RushingATTYDSTDLG
A. Thomas31111215
C. Chandler111011
R. Abdullah1303
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
D. White758018
J. Gage252028
B. Wade342019
D. Terrell738014
D. Clark131031
A. Merritt1303
Complete Player Stats