Bears 10, Ravens 6
CHICAGO (AP)—The league’s stingiest defense and one touchdown per game has been enough to keep the Chicago Bears atop the abysmal NFC North.
The Bears got a first-quarter TD pass from rookie Kyle Orton to Marc Edwards, then made it stand up with timely running by Thomas Jones for a 10-6 victory over Baltimore on Sunday, Chicago’s first win outside the division.
Now it’s on to Detroit for a first-place showdown—of 3-3 teams.
“I think six games into our season you see the type of defense we are,” said Chicago Coach Lovie Smith, who called it one of the biggest wins in his two seasons. “This is the position we want to be in, going up to Detroit in first place.”
Three sacks of quarterback Anthony Wright in the fourth quarter, two by Tank Johnson, put away the punchless Ravens for good and gave the Bears their second straight game without allowing a touchdown. Chicago now owns the league’s best average for points allowed at 10.3 per game, just ahead of Indianapolis (11) and Tampa Bay (12).
Jones topped the 100-yard mark for the fourth time in five games, rushing for 83 of his 139 yards in the fourth quarter in a driving rain at Soldier Field.
Smith said the Bears, who had beaten Detroit and Minnesota within their division but were 0-3 outside it, are still trying to get respect around the league.
“The NFC North is talked about quite a bit (because of) the records, but I see it getting better and we’re leading the charge,” he said.
The Bears’ defense enhanced the respect it already commanded, entering the game ranked No. 3 in the league in yardage allowed to Baltimore’s No. 2. It put the exclamation point on the victory by keeping Baltimore stuffed in its own territory for most of the second half with the game on the line; the Ravens ventured no further than the Chicago 44 on five possessions after halftime.
The Bears held Baltimore (2-4) to 199 net yards and remain the league’s only team not to have allowed a rushing touchdown this season.
“Probably the most disappointing thing was our inability to run the ball,” said Ravens Coach Brian Billick, whose team dropped its sixth straight road game dating to last season. “We have to be able to run the ball to be good.”
Wright finished 18-for-32 for 164 yards passing, but most of his completions were for short yardage.
“They’re a good defense and they’re No. 1 in the NFC for a reason,” Wright said. “They were taking away our passing lanes and breaking down our protection. They made it tough to do anything all day.”
Orton, who finished 15-of-29 for 145 yards, led the Bears on the early 78-yard TD drive that proved to be all they needed. He found Edwards open in the left flat on second down from the Ravens 9 with 25 seconds left in the first quarter after two Baltimore penalties aided the drive.
“I thought we did a real good job playing the field position battle,” Orton said. “We’re still in the lead in the division and now we’re going to Detroit.”
The Ravens got a 40-yard field goal from Matt Stover to cut it to 7-3 and then drove to the Chicago 11 in the final minute of the half, with Wright connecting on 7 of 7 passes. But Wright lost 6 yards on a fumble and Baltimore settled for a 29-yard field goal to make it 7-6 with 26 seconds left before halftime.
That proved to be their last points of the day—and their only trip inside the Bears’ 20—in a cautious offensive duel that featured 16 punts by both sides.
Robbie Gould, a rookie signed earlier this month, kicked a 23-yard field goal—his first at windy Soldier Field—with 2:52 left in the third period to make it 10-6. He missed from 40 with 8 minutes left, then the Bears’ defense took over.
Jones clinched the victory by breaking a 42-yard run into Baltimore territory with under three minutes to play and then converting a fourth-and-1 from the Ravens 30 as Chicago ran out the clock.
Baltimore got only 34 yards rushing from Jamal Lewis on 15 carries.
The game was billed as a showdown between top linebackers Brian Urlacher of the Bears and Ray Lewis of the Ravens, but neither had a sack or a turnover. Lewis left the game in the fourth quarter with a thigh injury.
“We kind of got after him a little bit,” said Urlacher, who was in on six tackles to Lewis’ five. “We were flying to the ball, running our gaps.”
^Notes: All-Pro safety Ed Reed missed the game for Baltimore with a sprained ankle, as did Bears’ left guard Ruben Brown with a strained right pectoral muscle. … The Ravens were flagged for 11 penalties for 100 yards that gave Chicago four first downs, including one on a late hit of Orton by Terrell Suggs on third down to help set up Gould’s field goal. … The Bears honored their 1985 Super Bowl championship team at halftime. … Some Bears fans, dressed in White Sox garb, left the game early to make the short trip to U.S. Cellular Field for Game 2 of the World Series.