DENVER (AP)—Kordell Stewart could have complained and sulked after being replaced as Chicago’s starter. Instead, he kept his mouth shut and his mind ready.
It paid off.
“It’s all about being professional at this level,” Stewart said. “It’s not about whining and moaning, it’s about sitting back and just waiting for your opportunity…”
Stewart opened the season as Chicago’s starter after signing with the Bears in the offseason, but was replaced by the 38-year-old Chandler after throwing seven interceptions and winning one of the first five games.
Chandler was 8-for-18 for 79 yards in the first half, but didn’t play in the second after spraining his shoulder. Stewart wasn’t much better, but he did lead the Bears to 10 fourth-quarter points and their first road victory in 12 games.
Stewart finished 7-for-15 for 47 yards passing and ran for 29 yards.
“He’s a champion, man,” Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “Today he came out there and had a great performance. He didn’t get that many reps in practice all week. Just gutty.”
The temperature was 18 degrees with a wind chill of 8 at kickoff—the second-coldest home game in Broncos history—and it only got worse as the game continued.
Neither team had trouble handling the ball in the frigid air—no turnovers—but they weren’t exactly marching up and down the field, either.
The Bears (4-7) had just 217 total yards, but benefited from good field position and two pass interference penalties against Denver’s Lenny Walls. The Bears’ average starting position was the 38-yard line, while Denver averaged the 19.
Denver (6-5) clicked last week against San Diego with the return of Jake Plummer. It didn’t carry over this week.
The Broncos got off to a good start, moving 78 yards for a 1-yard touchdown reception by Rod Smith on their first drive, but the rest of the game was filled with mistimed plays and missed opportunities.
The Broncos opened the season 4-1, but have lost five of seven to drop four games behind Kansas City in the AFC West.
“I felt good about the game going into it and I am very disappointed in myself that we didn’t play better than we did,” Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.
Clinton Portis had 165 yards on 14 carries for his second straight 1,000-yard season, but he went out in the fourth quarter with a heel injury.
As for Plummer, he was 19-for-35 for 176 yards after missing four games with foot and shoulder injuries. He had several passes swatted down and was even booed by the home fans after trying to force a pass into double coverage in the fourth quarter.
“It’s not devastating because there’s still a shot there to get to the playoffs,” Plummer said. “That’s what we are looking for. We just put ourselves in a tough spot.”
Denver took a 10-9 lead on a 25-yard field goal by Jason Elam early in the fourth quarter, set up by Portis’ 49-yard run off right tackle.
Stewart followed with a 1-yard dive, squeezing into the end zone on fourth down after being hit just as he started his jump.
Edinger made it 19-10 on a 47-yard field goal with just under nine minutes left, capping a short drive that Walls kept alive with a 21-yard pass interference penalty on third down.
Edinger also had three field goals in the first half, including two in the final 1:57 that helped the Bears take a 9-7 lead despite having just 117 total yards.
The first, from 23 yards, was set up by a 45-yard pass interference penalty on Walls. The second, from 54 yards with three seconds left, came after Chicago got the ball back at its 34 with 57 seconds left.
“I got some things straightened out this week,” Edinger said, who hadmissed four of his previous seven attempts.
The coldest home game in Denver history was against San Diego on Dec. 10, 1972, when the temperature at kickoff was 9 degrees. … It was the first regular-season meeting between the teams since Nov. 10, 1996, a 17-12 win by Denver. … Broncos WR Ed McCaffrey returned after missing four games with a quadriceps tendon injury. He dropped two passes, including a potential 29-yard touchdown in the first quarter. … Portis’ 11.79 per-carry average broke theteam record of 11 set by David Rolle against Oakland on Oct. 12, 1960.