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Bears do-it-all defense keys epic comeback vs. Cards

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Six turnovers, 3 points on offense, and
somehow the Chicago Bears are still unbeaten.

Somehow, some way, the Bears rallied from 20 points down at
halftime and escaped with a 24-23 victory in Arizona on Monday
night, leaving the shellshocked Cardinals to ponder yet another
excruciating late-game collapse.

"Sometimes, when you're a team of destiny, things like that
happen," Chicago coach Lovie Smith said.

The Bears are off to their best start in 20 years at 6-0. For
that, they can thank their defense, punt returner Devin Hester and
Arizona kicker Neil Rackers.

Rex Grossman gets no credit for this one.

"I've never played so bad and won a game like that," said the
Bears quarterback, who threw four interceptions and lost two
fumbles. "It was unbelievable."

Down 20-0 at halftime, Chicago returned two fumbles for
touchdowns in the second half. Then Hester returned a punt 83 yards
for a score with 2:58 remaining to take the lead.

Matt Leinart, who threw two first-quarter touchdowns and
finished 24-for-42 for 232 yards, coolly directed Arizona downfield
at the finish for a chance to claim a victory that appeared to be
the Cardinals' all night.

But Rackers, a Pro Bowl kicker last season who connected from
41, 28 and 29 yards earlier in the evening, missed a 41-yarder to
the left with 53 seconds left for what would have been the game
winner for Arizona (1-5).

"I was ready to hit it," he said. "Unfortunately I hit the
ground first, then I felt extremely sick to my stomach for my
teammates and coaches and everybody else who deserved to win this
game."

Just last week, he missed a 51-yard attempt at the finish that
would have sent the game against Kansas City into overtime.

Arizona coach Dennis Green was seething. Judging by his
comments, he clearly didn't believe the Bears lived up to the hype
-- or deserved to win.

"The Bears are who we thought they were!" he said, yelling at
the top of his lungs and pounding on the podium at his postgame
press conference. "Now, if you want to crown them, then crown
[them]! But they are who [we] thought they were! And we let them
off the hook!"

Green then stormed away.

Anquan Boldin caught 12 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown for
the Cardinals, who blew a late lead at home for the third time this
season. Similar collapses occurred against St. Louis and Kansas
City.

"The way things have turned out is just unreal," Edgerrin
James said. "This is some of the weirdest stuff I have ever seen
in these past six weeks."

James carried 36 times for only 55 yards, an average of 1.5
yards. It was the most carries in an NFL game by a player while
averaging less than 2 yards per attempt, according to the Elias
Sports Bureau.

James also had one very costly fumble.

After Grossman threw his fourth interception, the Cardinals were
trying to use up time. But Brian Urlacher stripped the ball from
James and Charles Tillman scooped it up for a 40-yard return to cut
Arizona's lead to 23-17 with five minutes left.

Urlacher finished with 11 tackles, seeming to find his way to
the ball on nearly every play as the Cardinals were making their
final drives.

"First of all they weren't blocking me, so that was easy,"
Urlacher said.

On their next possession, the Cardinals were forced to punt.
Hester caught the ball, broke a few arm tackles and weaved around
hapless defenders as he sprinted upfield, scoring his second punt
return for a touchdown this season and giving Chicago the lead for
the first time all night.

In addition to his four picks, Grossman fumbled the ball away
twice and struggled to hit receivers when he did manage to get the
ball cleanly away, going 14-for-37 for 148 yards. With their
offense suddenly punchless, the Bears' defense provided the points.

The first came when defensive end Mark Anderson broke through
untouched and blindsided Leinart, forcing a fumble that Mike Brown
returned 3 yards for a touchdown that cut the lead to 23-10 with
two seconds left in the third quarter.

Chicago entered the game with five turnovers in five games, 10
fewer than its foes. But it was evident early that this would be
a frightful night with the roof open for the first time in
Arizona's extravagant new stadium.

"In the NFL, when you have six turnovers, you lose," Bears
defensive end Alex Brown said. "If you're fortunate enough to win,
somebody upstairs is looking out for you."

Four of the turnovers helped the Cardinals to a 20-0 halftime
lead in Arizona's first Monday night appearance since 1999.

"We have a lot of character in that locker room," Smith said.
"We just got together at halftime and just said 'We're not going
to go out like that. We're a lot better football team.'"

The Bears steamrolled into town with a fierce defense and an
efficient offense that had blown out Seattle and Buffalo by a
combined 77-13 score their previous two games.

But Leinart, in his second NFL start, ran the offense with
precision and poise at the start, becoming the first rookie to
throw a pair of first-quarter TD passes in his first two starts.
This time, he did it without Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald,
sidelined with a hamstring injury, against a Chicago defense that
had allowed two touchdowns all season.

Accustomed to the bright lights that came with three national
championship game appearances at USC, Leinart was anything but
intimidated. He was 5-for-5 on a 12-play, 77-yard touchdown drive
on Arizona's opening attack.

"He's a good quarterback," Urlacher said. "He's young, we
tried to throw a lot of stuff at him. He took care of the football,
didn't have any interceptions. But we made the plays when we had
to."

Game notes
Ex-Cardinal and CBS analyst Dan Dierdorf was added to the
team's ring of honor before the game. ... The Cardinals are 12-26
in Green's three seasons with the team. ... Chicago's Thomas Jones
managed just 39 yards in 11 carries.

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