Getting his first start in seven weeks as a replacement for the injured Chris Chandler, Stewart sparked the Bears to their biggest offensive day of the season.
Stewart threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third, while rookie Brock Forsey—a fill-in for Anthony Thomas—gained 134 yards with a touchdown in the Bears 28-3 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
“Chris is the starter. He hurt his shoulder. They gave him the job. It’s my responsibility as a backup to come in and just do what I was supposed to do,” said Stewart, who completed 22 of 37 passes for 284 yards.
“I just know that today I had an opportunity, individually, and I took advantage of it.”
Stewart came off the bench and led a win over Denver last week when Chandler got hurt, so the obvious question: Will he return to the starter’s role he lost after an Oct. 12 loss to New Orleans?
“I’ll just let the powers that be do what they will,” he said.
Coach Dick Jauron was noncommittal after the game.
Forsey, a rookie who was once a walk-on at Boise State, got his second NFL start because Thomas was inactive with viral pneumonia.
“I’ve got confidence in myself. There are always going to be people who say, ‘Look, he’s not the biggest guy, he’s not the fastest guy,”’ said the 5-foot-11, 203-pound Forsey, a sixth-round draft choice.
“I try and use that as motivation and prove people wrong. I’m trying to make a statement.”
He did, carrying 27 times and scoring on a 9-yard run with 3:33 remaining to cap Chicago’s 21-point fourth quarter.
Ranked last in the league in offense entering the game, Chicago (5-7) finished with a season-high 422 yards of total offense to 197 for Arizona, which managed just 46 yards rushing. The 28 points were also a Bears’ season-high.
The road woes continued for Arizona (3-9). Unable to generate a consistent offense against an aggressive Bears’ defense, the Cardinals fell to 0-6 away from home and have been outscored 203-68 in those games.
Jeff Blake, who visited the Bears during free agency, threw two interceptions and fumbled once.
Cardinals standout rookie Anquan Boldin was held to four catches, three on a meaningless final drive. His 7-yard reception in the second quarter made him just the 12th rookie in NFL history to go over 1,000 yards receiving.
“We expected everything they did. We just didn’t make plays,” Boldin said.
“We had trouble doing everything offensively,” Arizona coach Dave McGinnis said. “We were trying to get the ball to him, but we had no continuity offensively.”
Stewart scampered for an 8-yard TD with 7:46 left. The score, set up by his 29-yard pass to Dez White, gave the Bears a 21-3 lead.
Earlier, Stewart hit White for a 10-yard TD pass on the sixth play of the fourth quarter—moments after Chicago’s R.W. McQuarters intercepted an overthrown pass and returned it 29 yards to the Cardinals 12.
The Bears, without a first-quarter TD all season, finally got one by driving 96 yards in just six plays the first time they had the ball.
Bears guard Chris Villarrial strained his rib cage in the first half and did not return, and right tackle Aaron Gibson was forced out early in the fourth quarter after spraining his knee during a run by Forsey. Arizona defensive back Dexter Jackson hurt his ribs and shoulder while defending Gage in the third quarter.
Emmitt Smith saw his first action since separating his shoulder and fracturing his shoulder blade against the Cowboys on Oct. 5. The NFL’s career rushing leader carried one time for minus-3 yards and caught one pass for 5 yards. … Bears PK Paul Edinger, who made four field goals at Denver last week after missing two and having one blocked in the previous two games, missed twomore Sunday from 44 and 43.