CHICAGO -- With their offense under fire for a poor performance against Green Bay 10 days earlier, the Chicago Bears turned to an old standby, riding their defense and St. Louis mistakes to a 23-6 victory over the Rams on Sunday.
The Bears' first 10 points were set up by drive-extending St. Louis penalties, and their clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter came on a 45-yard interception return on a deflected pass that landed in the arms of safety Major Wright.
Chicago struggled to move the ball against a Rams' defense which had given up 802 yards in two previous games against Detroit and Washington -- the Bears didn't reach 200 until four minutes into the fourth quarter -- but it didn't matter.
On a day honored their alumni were honored by a franchise known for its defense through the years, the Bears frustrated quarterback Sam Bradford and the Rams' offense.
They sacked Bradford six times, limited St. Louis to just 15 yards in the game's first 28 minutes, and never permitted the Rams even to threaten the goal line. St. Louis finished the game with just 160 yards of offense.
Nevertheless, it took penalties that extended drives to produce Chicago's only 10 first-half points.
First, after the Bears' initial possession stalled, leaving them with 4th-and-15 at their own 46-yard line, the Rams' Jo-Lonn Dunbar pushed down Bears punter Adam Podlesh from behind, allowing Chicago to retain possession.
Four plays later, Robbie Gould kicked a 54-yard field goal.
Second, in the second quarter, after Jay Cutler passed incomplete on 3rd-and-8 from the St. Louis 45-yard line, Rams' safety Darian Stewart was penalized for roughing Cutler, making it first down at the 30 instead of a fourth down punting situation. Two Cutler passes to Brandon Marshall, for 13 yards and then 12 yards, set up a three-yard touchdown pass from Cutler to, once more, Marshall.
St. Louis got a 56-yard field goal from Greg Zuerlein just before halftime and a 46-yarder midway through the third quarter, narrowing the margin to 10-6.
But the Bears followed that with a 71-yard drive, keyed by Cutler's 21-yard scramble, to set up a second of three field goals by Gould. Shortly after the ensuing kickoff, Wright's interception touchdown, on a pass deflected by cornerback Tim Jennings, clinched the game.
Notes: The Bears had to play without running back Matt Forte, who suffered an ankle injury against Green Bay, and also shook up their offensive line after surrendering seven sacks to the Packers. ... Chilo Rachal, who signed with the Bears as a free agent during the offseason, replaced Chris Spencer at left guard. ... Jerry Hughes, the replacement referee, several times referred to the Rams as "St. Looie," rather than the formal St. Louis. ... The fill-in zebras eventually got it right on a first-quarter play where Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan intercepted a Jay Cutler pass, returned it 33 yards, was tripped by Cutler and fumbled, and Devin Hester then went 32 yards the other way. After a delay and review, they properly determined that Finnegan was down before he fumbled and gave the ball to St. Louis. ... The Bears lost fullback Evan Rodriguez to a knee injury, and often used at least one extra offensive lineman, sometimes two, for blocking.