Bears 24

(4-1, 2-1 away)

Bengals 0

(3-3, 3-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, October 21, 2001


1 2 3 4 T
CHI 3 7 7 724
CIN 0 0 0 00

Bears wrap up Dillon, unleash Thomas

CINCINNATI (AP) -- The A-Train rumbled past Sweetness and the Kansas Comet without even slowing.

Anthony Thomas

Anthony Thomas did George 'Papa Bear' Halas proud by setting a Bears rookie rushing record with 188 yards Sunday.

Anthony Thomas set a Bears rookie rushing record with 188 yards Sunday and Chicago's punishing defense got its first shutout in eight years, 24-0 over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bears (4-1), who last made the playoffs in 1994, have won four in a row for the first time since 1995. They're off to their best start since 1991, when they finished 11-5.

"A lot of people were doubting us," linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "We turned some more heads today."

No one got more notice than Thomas, who set Michigan's career rushing records. The second-round pick had not run for more than 58 yards in a game.

Have the Bears found a running game to complement their defense?
They found it today. Anthony Thomas was outstanding (22 carries, 188 yards).

The A-train made some strong runs, he showed explosiveness through holes and he broke some tackles. It's been coming each week. He's been improving bit by bit -- if he can keep moving in that direction and keep gaining confidence, the Bears will have that strong running game to go with their outstanding defense. NFL analyst Vinny Cerrato has served as director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.

Once he got rolling, no one could stop him. He darted through big holes on his 22 carries, topping James Allen's rookie record of 163 yards in 1998. It was the eight-best total overall in Bears history.

Walter Payton's best rookie game was 134 yards. Gale Sayers managed 118.

"It's something -- a rookie record for the Bears," Thomas marveled. "That's a compliment, that some of those guys didn't do it. It's something I'll think about for the rest of my life."

The Bengals (3-3) will think about this game for the rest of the season. The Bears dominated every aspect and could have easily won by a much wider margin.

The crowd of 63,408 grew angry, got ugly and left early as the Bengals were shut out at home for the first time in three years. Linebacker Takeo Spikes was back after missing a game because of his father's death, but his emotional pregame introduction didn't carry over.

The Bears kept it close in the first half by missing a field goal, having another wiped out by a penalty and fumbling at the Bengals' 2-yard line.

Jim Miller threw his second touchdown pass, a 13-yarder to Marty Booker in the third quarter, and Thomas sprinted around the left end for a 23-yard touchdown run that sent fans home with 9:05 left.

"They were consistent in what they were doing, and we couldn't keep them from doing what they wanted to do," Bengals coach Dick LeBeau said.

As the Bears pulled away, the officials stopped the game and called extra security to one end of the field because fans were throwing objects.

The NFL's stingiest defense was at the top of its game. Corey Dillon, coming off a season-high 140-yard performance against Cleveland, got only 30 yards on 16 carries against a defense that stacked the line of scrimmage to stop him.

"It seemed like they had three extra guys in there," Dillon said. "There was nothing we could do, so you just do what you can."

The Bears' defense not only stopped the Bengals, it punished them. Safety Tony Parrish perfectly timed a hit on Darnay Scott on a long pass in the third quarter and knocked him out of the game with bruised ribs.

The Bears lost Marcus Robinson, their top receiver each of the past two seasons. He sprained his left knee and was taken off the field on a cart.

Miller, who had thrown only three touchdown passes all season, kept Chicago's hunt-and-peck offense rolling by making good choices and accurate throws. He completed 23 of 30 passes for 232 yards, and had a 1-yard touchdown pass to Fred Baxter in the second quarter.

He got a lot of help from the Bears' top two rookies. First-round pick David Terrell led the receivers with seven catches for 91 yards, including a 41-yard gain. Thomas made everyone stand back and admire.

"He was unbelievable," Miller said. "You saw it on the field. He's got a knack. We knew it was a matter of time for him. David and A-Train both gave us a spark."

Jon Kitna couldn't take advantage of the Bears' focus on Dillon. Kitna completed 19 of 46 passes for 244 yards and threw an interception to R.W. McQuarters.

Neil Rackers missed a 39-yard field-goal attempt -- he's only 6-of-12 this season -- and Kitna threw four incompletions from the 2 late in the fourth quarter to seal the shutout.

Game notes
The Bears will know more about Robinson's knee when tests are performed in Chicago. Coach Dick Jauron was pessimistic. ... Bengals CB Robert Bean strained his right hamstring in the first half and didn't return. Ligarius Jennings, signed off Detroit's practice squad Tuesday because of a season-ending injury to Rodney Heath, wound up playing. ... The Bears have allowed 43 points, fewest in the NFL ... It was the first time the Bengals were shut out at Paul Brown Stadium. Their three shutouts last season were all on the road.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 3 plays, 51 yds, 0:35
chiFG4:35Paul Edinger 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, 2 yds, 0:07
Drive info: 3 plays, 51 yds, 0:35
Drive info: 6 plays, 67 yds, 2:32
Drive info: 6 plays, 67 yds, 2:32
chiTD9:15Anthony Thomas, 23 yd run
Drive info: 9 plays, 71 yds, 4:19
Drive info: 9 plays, 71 yds, 4:19