NFL Nation: Cards-Bears 09 RR

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

CHICAGO -- The Cardinals took the Bears' best shot -- a first-quarter sucker punch from defensive tackle Tommie Harris to guard Deuce Lutui's head -- and did not blink.

They again distinguished themselves from the NFC West pack by beating a decent team on the road.

Arizona improbably improved its road record to 4-0. The focus will now shift to the Cardinals' inability to win home games. Arizona, always up for a challenge, will probably refocus its fury upon visiting Seattle in Week 10.

The Cardinals then visit the Rams in Week 11, followed by a trip to Tennessee.

Beating the Bears put Arizona in strong position to match its record through 10 games last season (7-3) and possibly get to 8-3. If the Cardinals can get to that mark, the rest of the division will have a very difficult time catching them. Nothing is automatic with Arizona, of course, so the team should proceed into this three-game soft stretch with caution. Facing a division opponent in Week 10 should help the Cardinals keep their focus.

Establishing a strong ground game against the Bears gives the Cardinals a needed confidence boost in that phase of the game. The Cardinals will become dynamic offensively if they can build on their most impressive rushing performance since the playoffs last season. Kurt Warner matched a career high with five touchdown passes Sunday largely because the team established credibility on the ground early in the game.

That must continue for Arizona to realize its potential.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert

CHICAGO -- No one should spend time celebrating Chicago for its mini-comeback Sunday at Soldier Field, one that allowed a blowout loss to appear somewhat less painful on the final scoreboard. The Bears got the living daylights beat out of them at home Sunday in a game that should call into question the viability of their organization from top to bottom.

Arizona led 34-7 early in the fourth quarter before the Bears closed the gap with two quick touchdowns. But Kurt Warner’s fifth touchdown pass of the game sealed the Cardinals’ victory with 4:30 remaining.

The Bears had no answer for the Cardinals’ passing game and gave up more than three times as many rushing yards (182) as Arizona has averaged on a per-game basis this season. The Bears offense was one-dimensional from the start, all but ignoring the running game, and even their normally-reliable special teams made a critical error.

Most alarming to me was the relative willingness with which the Bears seemed to accept their fate. A few players were mildly enthusiastic during the mini-comeback, but otherwise the team was totally flat in a key November game. It’s fair to ask, for the second time in three weeks, why coach Lovie Smith’s team seemed so ill-prepared.

Two weeks ago, you’ll remember, the Bears absorbed a 45-10 loss at Cincinnati. This stretch has dropped the Bears to 4-4 and a full three games behind Minnesota in the NFC North. They need to find answers quickly. They’re running out of time.

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