GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — A week after ending a nine-game losing streak, the Arizona Cardinals were back to their bumbling ways.
Turns out, they are who we thought they were.
Rookie Ryan Lindley had an interception returned for a touchdown before being replaced, Beanie Wells lost a fumble that was recovered for another score and Arizona’s offense continued to sputter in a 28-13 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
“Obviously, against a team like that, you can’t give them two scores,” Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “That’s going to make it difficult with the way we’ve been doing things offensively, so that got us behind the 8-ball, which hurt.”
The last time the Bears came to Arizona was a Monday night game in 2006, when they rallied for a 24-23 win and then-Cardinals coach Dennis Green went on one of the NFL’s more memorable postgame rants, pounding the podium as he yelled “They are who we thought they are!”
This time, Chicago (9-6) was clinging to playoff hopes, needing a win over Arizona and some help to get into the postseason.
The Cardinals were the perfect foil.
Arizona (5-10) got by with its inept offense last week against Detroit, riding its big-play defense to a 38-10 win despite managing less than 200 total yards to win for the first time in two months.
The Cardinals couldn’t get out of their own way again against the Bears, thanks in large part to their continuing quarterback woes.
Lindley badly missed receivers twice on Arizona’s opening drive and didn’t get a whole lot better, throwing his seventh interception without a touchdown before being replaced after the Cardinals’ opening drive of the third quarter. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 141 yards with an interception and a quarterback rating of 55.
Brian Hoyer, claimed on waivers from Pittsburgh two weeks ago, also threw an interception and finished with 105 yards on 11-of-19 passing and a rating of 51.4.
Arizona’s quarterbacks have thrown 12 interceptions, including four returned for touchdowns, with no touchdowns in the past six games.
“You have to take it in stride, take what you can from it, move on and try to make yourself better from it,” Lindley said.
Chicago wasn’t particularly sharp on offense.
Jay Cutler completed one of his first 11 passes before hitting five straight on a touchdown drive in the closing minutes of the first half. He finished 12 of 26 and capped the late first-half drive by hitting Brandon Marshall on an 11-yard touchdown pass.
Matt Forte had 88 yards on 12 carries, including a 4-yard TD run, though didn’t play in the second half due to a right ankle injury.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Cutler said. “(We) made some plays when we had to make some plays.”
The Bears didn’t need many the way their defense was playing.
Chicago held Arizona to 248 yards, had four sacks and forced three turnovers.
Zack Bowman scored on Arizona’s first turnover, falling into the end zone after scooping up Wells’ fumble in the first quarter. Charles Tillman turned the second into another score, picking off Lindley and returning it 10 yards to put Chicago up 28-6 on Arizona’s opening drive of the second half.
Kelvin Hayden nearly had another pick-6 off Hoyer in the fourth quarter and the Bears’ defense outscored Arizona’s offense 14-0 to remain in the playoff hunt.
Chicago must win at Detroit in its regular-season finale next Sunday, then have Minnesota lose to Green Bay or have Seattle lose its final two games to earn an NFC wild card spot. The Seahawks were home against San Francisco Sunday night.
“It was a simple goal for our team this week: get that ninth win,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “On the road, we couldn’t really talk about all the different playoff scenarios. We just knew that we had to get ourselves in position to get that 10th win, which we have done.”
Arizona’s only highlights came on special teams.
Punter Dave Zastudil set an NFL record with 44 punts downed inside the 20-yard line after pinning the Bears down six times to match the single-game team record he set last week. The Cardinals’ lone touchdown came with less than 2 minutes left in the game, when Adrian Wilson blocked Olindo Mare’s field goal attempt and Justin Bethel returned it 82 yards for a touchdown.
Arizona’s offensive struggles overshadowed those accomplishments.
Against the Lions, the Cardinals took advantage of a short field, scoring touchdowns when the defense made big plays.
A week later, they could only manage field goals — if that.
Arizona started one drive at the Chicago 27-yard line in the first quarter and settled for a 49-yard field goal by Jay Feely.
Another drive in the second quarter started at the Bears 32 and fizzled quickly with three misfired passes by Lindley that drew boos from the home crowd, followed by a fake field goal that had no chance of being successful.
Feely also hit a 35-yard field goal in the closing minutes of the second quarter after the Cardinals started a drive at the Chicago 36.
“It’s been up and down for us all year,” Wells said. “We haven’t been able to get that consistency going. It’s tough.”
NOTES: Chicago has eight interceptions returned for touchdowns this season, one short of the NFL record set by San Diego in 1961. … Arizona’s Patrick Peterson left with a bruised knee late in the first quarter but didn’t miss a play. … Cardinals finished 4-4 at home. … Since Kevin Kolb was injured on Oct. 14, Arizona’s QBs have thrown 17 interceptions and two touchdowns. … Bears LB Brian Urlacher missed his third straight game with a hamstring injury after testing it out on the field before the game.