CINCINNATI (AP) Coach John Fox answered the final question in a raspy voice and headed back toward his happy Chicago locker room.
”Sorry about the voice,” he said while leaving the podium.
Nobody could fault him. It had been a long time since the Bears had anything worth celebrating, and they enjoyed a lot of yell-for-joy moments against a Bengals team that’s gone from hopeless to hapless.
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Rookie Mitchell Trubisky threw for a touchdown and ran for another in his best showing, and Chicago ended a five-game losing streak by routing the lackluster Bengals 33-7 on Sunday.
Jordan Howard ran for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Bears (4-9) dominated a matchup of the NFL’s worst offenses. Their rookie quarterback took full advantage of an aggressive game plan, completing a career-high 25 passes out of 32 attempts for 271 yards. He also ran 4 yards for a score.
”We just had fun doing it,” Trubisky said. ”We trusted the plan, went out there and let it loose.”
The Bengals (5-8) couldn’t believe how poorly they played, describing themselves as stunned and embarrassed by their worst home loss since 2008.
”It wasn’t good,” said Andy Dalton, who threw his first interception since Oct. 22 during a loss in Pittsburgh. ”It’s disappointing that that’s what we put out there today.”
The rival Steelers crushed their playoff hopes on Monday night at Paul Brown Stadium by rallying for a 23-20 victory . The physical game also depleted Cincinnati’s defense.
The Bengals were missing starting cornerbacks Adam ”Pacman” Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick, along with linebacker Vontaze Burfict and Nick Vigil.
The Bears piled up a season-high 482 yards after managing only 140 and 147 yards in each of the past two games.
”Some new people, some moving parts, and you know, it was not very good,” coach Marvin Lewis said.
Some takeaways from Chicago’s most lopsided victory in five years:
TRUBISKY’S BEST: The rookie shined in an aggressive game plan aimed at going after the holes in Cincinnati’s defense. In the past two games, he has completed 37 of 47 passes without an interception.
”I just feel confident I’m getting better each week,” Trubisky said.
LEADER OF THE PACK: Howard led a rushing attack that piled up 232 yards. Howard has rushed for 1,032 yards this season. He’s the first Bears running back to start a career with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
”There’s a great running back tradition here, a lot to live up to,” Howard said. ”So to do so, it’s a great feeling.
NUGENT’S RETURN: The Bears signed kicker Mike Nugent after Cairo Santos went on injured reserve with a groin injury during the week. Nugent spent seven seasons with the Bengals, who released him last season after a streak of missed field goals and extra points. He was booed loudly whenever he came onto the field. Nugent missed an extra-point attempt – he hit the right upright – after Chicago’s first touchdown, but was good on every other kick, including field goals of 34 and 27 yards.
”You’re going to think of some of the negative stuff, but I had a really good time playing here in Cincinnati,” Nugent said. ”I hated to see my run here end.”
DALTON PICKED OFF: Dalton’s career-best streak without an interception ended at 193 consecutive throws. The rare interception set up Trubisky’s 1-yard touchdown pass that put the Bears in control 26-7 early in the fourth quarter, their biggest lead of the season.
HOW LOW WILL THEY GO? The Bengals showed the effects of their loss to Pittsburgh in many ways. Dalton acknowledged that they came out with a lack of energy. The question is how low they’ll sink in the final three weeks. Lewis is in the final year of his contract. The game Sunday drew only 52,002 fans. There have been at least 10,000 empty seats for every game at Paul Brown Stadium this season.
”Definitely embarrassing,” receiver A.J. Green said. ”Anytime you lose 33-7, no matter how good the other team played, it’s embarrassing. We have three more weeks left, and we have to continue fighting.”
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