CHICAGO -- Mike Martz's gamble and Marshall Faulk's gallop gave the struggling St. Louis Rams the boost they needed.
Trailing the Chicago Bears 14-3 in the third quarter Sunday, Martz signaled his offense to go for it on a fourth-and-1 from its own 40.
And Faulk made the decision click.
He broke off a 52-yard run that set up a touchdown -- getting the Rams back in the game -- and they rallied to beat the Bears 23-21 Sunday on Jeff Wilkins' 31-yard field goal with 38 seconds left.
"It's kind of gutsy for where we were in the game. But those are the kind of things you've got to do. It definitely switched the momentum," Faulk said.
"We were sputtering so bad on offense and misfiring, and we had to make a play. I knew if we were going to win the game, we had to make one of those plays," Martz said.
"And he broke it. It jump-started everything. It took the pressure off the defense to some extent, because we were faltering miserably in the first half."
The Rams weren't through taking risks on a misty and overcast day at Soldier Field.
After Marc Bulger's 4-yard TD pass to Torry Holt following Faulk's long run cut Chicago's lead to 14-10, St. Louis surprised the Bears with an onside kick. Arlen Harris recovered at the Rams 41 on a play upheld by video review.
"I don't agree with the call. I don't think they should have been awarded the ball," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. "I think the ball hit one of their players and they blocked us before the ball had a chance to go 10 yards."
But the Rams got the ball right back and in 13 plays moved for a score, using another fourth-down conversion from the Bears 37. Bulger flipped a 4-yard TD pass to Brandon Manumaleuna with 12:46 to go, giving the Rams a 17-14 lead.
"We were just trying to make things happen. It was slippery and ugly out there," Martz said of the onside kick.
Wilkins' go-ahead field goal in the closing seconds came after the Rams moved 67 yards behind six completions from Bulger, including a key 21-yarder to Holt on third down. The drive was aided by back-to-back penalties for illegal contact and illegal use of the hands on the Bears.
Bulger struggled so badly in the first half that Martz considered replacing him at one point with two-time MVP Kurt Warner. Warner talked him out of it.
"I asked Kurt if he was ready to play and he said he was, but we should stick with Marc," Martz said.
Bulger responded on the final drive.
"I knew I could fight my way out of it," Bulger said. "I know I wanted more chance."
Wilkins' 44-yard field goal with 7:21 to go put the Rams up 20-14.
Then Chandler needed just three plays to give the Bears the lead back. He hit Marty Booker on a 24-yard pass, Desmond Clark on a 27-yarder and then tossed an 11-yard TD pass to Dez White. Paul Edinger's extra point gave Chicago its last lead at 21-20 with 5:58 left.
R.W. McQuarters' 60-yard punt return for a TD gave the Bears a 7-3 lead in the second quarter - the fourth special teams TD against the Rams this season.
Chicago, which had seven sacks all season entering the game, then sacked Bulger three straight times and after a 37-yard punt, the Bears went 47 yards for a TD behind the running of Anthony Thomas.
Thomas carried eight times for 42 yards, including a 25-yarder to the Rams 4. On a fourth-and-goal from the 1, Thomas was just able to nudge the ball across the goal line with a second effort, putting the Bears up 14-3.
On the ensuing kickoff, Ahmad Merritt jarred the ball loose from Spencer Nead and the Bears' Joe Odom recovered at the St. Louis 18. But after Chicago couldn't get a first down, Edinger missed a 34-yard field goal, the normally reliable kicker's second miss in as many games.
- Bulger, 11-of-21 for 101 in the first half, finished 29-of-46 for 240 yards.
- Faulk, who carried 20 times for 103 yards on a misty and overcast day, also caught three passes for 21 yards, moving him past Ronnie Harmon into second place all-time for receiving yards (6,077) by a running back. It was the 31st time in his career Faulk surpassed 100 yards rushing.
- The Bears were scoreless again in the first quarter and have managed only nine points total in the opening period all season.
The Associated Press News Service
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