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Thomas scores twice on the ground

11/3/2003

CHICAGO (AP) -- After being idle the last two weeks, the A-Train
is rumbling again.

Anthony Thomas ran for 111 yards and a pair of 1-yard scores to
lead the Chicago Bears to a 20-7 victory over the San Diego
Chargers on Sunday. It was Chicago's second victory in a row and
third straight at home.

"We're trying to get a rhythm and momentum going for us," said
Thomas, who missed the last two games with a sore foot.

Doug Flutie did his best to spoil the Bears' fun, though. Ten
days after his 41st birthday, Flutie nearly pulled off another
comeback after replacing Drew Brees in the fourth quarter.

He found Tim Dwight on a 22-yard pass, and rushed for another 17
yards to set up LaDainian Tomlinson's 3-yard score that pulled San
Diego within 13-7 with 9:13 to play.

San Diego's defense got Flutie the ball back with plenty of time
left. But Bears cornerback Charles Tillman downed the punt at the
1, and Flutie couldn't get the Chargers beyond the 17.

"I was just excited about the opportunity to get on the field
and do something," Flutie said. "When you don't play and
contribute, you feel like you're on the outside looking in a lot,
especially when you're losing. ... You just want to be able to help
out and do your part."

Thomas ended any hope of a comeback with his own six-play,
21-yard drive, capping it with a 1-yard scoring run.

Chicago quarterback Chris Chandler was 21-of-30 for 224 yards.

Flutie was 8-of-11 for 70 yards for the Chargers (1-7). His 19
yards rushing included that 17-yard scamper that was San Diego's
longest ground gain of the day.

Tomlinson gained 61 yards. Brees was just 7-of-15 for 49 yards
with one interception and had a passer rating of just 26.8.

The Chargers' QB switch "was a decision that was made to see if
we could get a spark, and we got a bit of a spark. It did some more
than that," coach Marty Schottenheimer said.

Schottenheimer hasn't decided who will start next week, but
Brees has Flutie's vote.

"The bottom line is Drew's the starter and I'm his backup,"
Flutie said. "It's my job as the backup to come in, try to spark
the team when I can, rally the troops.

"Being on the sideline, you sit back and you can just watch and
see, and it's a lot easier to come off the bench after you've been
watching what's been going on for a couple quarters," he added.
"It's very difficult, week after week, to keep coming back and
taking the loss. It just makes it a little tougher."

The loss was the latest blow for the Chargers, who haven't
played at home since Sept. 21, and have been on an odyssey worthy
of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." They were supposed to host
Miami on Monday night, but the wildfires that have ravaged Southern
California forced the game to be moved to Arizona.

Concerns over poor air quality also persuaded the Chargers to
abandon their practice facility this week. They flew to Champaign,
Ill., late Wednesday night and practiced at the University of
Illinois for two days before coming to Chicago on Saturday.

But the extra time in Illinois didn't make the Chargers feel any
more comfortable: They fell behind 13-0 to the Bears (3-5).

"I'm not smart enough to know that," Schottenheimer said when
asked if the last week took a toll on his players. "I don't think
so, but I'm not smart enough to know whether it did or not."

The Chargers were dismal through the first three quarters,
managing just four first downs and 85 yards. They went five
straight series without a first down, and missed a field goal on
their only scoring opportunity of the first half.

When Flutie came in, though, the Chargers started crackling.

"I'm from that area, and I've seen him play on television a
number of times," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. "He can throw the
ball a long way, he's got a strong arm and he's obviously very
agile. He converts a lot of third-down plays himself, and he makes
you call a different kind of game."

They had five first downs on the lone scoring drive, and gained
74 yards. But scoring from his own 1 is tough even for Flutie, and
the Chargers came up short again.

Game notes
Thomas now has three 100-yard efforts in his last four
games. ... Rookie Bears cornerback Charles Tillman had an
interception for a second straight game. ... San Diego receiver
Reche Caldwell left the game with a mild concussion.

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