CHICAGO – The Bears got back to winning, and they can thank their defense for it.
Major Wright returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown, and the Bears beat the St. Louis Rams 23-6 on Sunday.
The defense came to the rescue against the Rams (1-2), holding them to 160 yards and sacking Sam Bradford six times. That was enough on a day when Jay Cutler struggled, and the Bears (2-1) bounced back after an ugly loss to Green Bay the previous week.
The Bears had just kicked a field goal to extend their lead to 13-6 in the fourth quarter before Wright made his big play. Bradford had been hit hard by Israel Idonije and Stephen Paea on the previous play when Tim Jennings deflected a slant intended for Danny Amendola.
Wright caught the ball at the 45 and ran untouched to the end zone, making it a 14-point game and finally giving the Bears some breathing room.
It wasn't exactly the sort of showing they were looking for after that brutal 23-10 loss to the Packers, but it was good enough.
Cutler at least appeared to keep his composure in this game – a big improvement after getting sacked seven times, throwing four interceptions and berating and bumping left tackle J'Marcus Webb on the sideline.
Otherwise, there weren't many positives for him.
Cutler completed 17 of 31 passes for 183 yards and was sacked twice and picked off once.
Brandon Marshall had trouble hanging onto the ball at times and wound up with five receptions for 71 yards after catching just two passes the previous week. Michael Bush ran for 55 yards and a touchdown with Matt Forte sidelined by a sprained right ankle.
Israel Idonije had 2½ sacks for the Bears. Their strong defensive performance made for a miserable afternoon for Bradford, who was 18 of 35 for 152 yards with two interceptions.
Steven Jackson managed just 29 yards rushing after missing most of the previous game with a groin injury and sitting out practice during the week, and Amendola had five catches for 55 yards after tying a club record with 15 catches for 160 yards.
The Bears had 10 days to prepare for this, but instead of an inspired performance, they got a subpar effort from their offense.
When they had chances, they simply didn't take advantage. With the Bears leading by four early in the final quarter, a 21-yard scramble by Cutler put the ball on the 6. But the Bears settled for a field goal to make it 13-6 after he overthrew an open Devin Hester in the end zone, the ball going through the leaping receiver's hands.
That drew more groans from an already weary crowd.
The Bears' lone touchdown in the first half was aided by a big break, after Darian Stewart got called for roughing the passer on third down at the St. Louis 45. Bush eventually ran it in from the 3 with just under two minutes left to make it 10-0.
The Rams' Greg Zuerlein nailed a 56-yard field goal with 22 seconds left in the half and added a 46-yarder midway through the third to make it a four-point game.