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December 18, 2006

Grossman stays hot in leading Bears to win

 
By: By Larry Mayer | Last Updated: 12/18/2006 2:52 PM
 
 

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Rex Grossman’s up and down season continued with a second straight stellar performance in Sunday’s 34-31 overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The fourth-year pro established career highs with 29 completions, 44 attempts and 339 yards while compiling a 104.3 passer rating as the Bears clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

 
Rex Grossman passed for a career-high 339 yards and 2 touchdowns in Sunday's win over Tampa Bay.
After throwing a total of six interceptions without a touchdown in back-to-back games against the Patriots and Vikings, Grossman has passed for a total of four TDs with no interceptions in consecutive wins over the Rams and Buccaneers.

“The last two weeks I think Rex is back to the way he was playing earlier in the year,” said offensive coordinator Ron Turner. “Early in the year he was playing great football. I think everybody forgot about that and just remembered a couple of those bad games that he had.”

After bottoming out with a 1.3 passer rating against the Vikings, Grossman has topped the century mark in his last two starts and now has recorded a 100 rating or better in seven games this season, the most in the NFL.

“I feel comfortable out there in the pocket and comfortable with the game plans and the reads and comfortable with my approach,” Grossman said. “Hopefully I can just continue that and stay on that level.”

Power and glory: On Cedric Benson’s 4-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter Sunday, the 5-11, 220-pound running back steamrolled 6-1, 214-pound safety Jermaine Phillips at the 3-yard line en route to the end zone.

“I didn’t want to take the football and just pound it in the first gap I saw,” Benson said. “I really wanted to get into the end zone, so I kind of jumped into the hole and there was a little crease to the right and an even bigger crease to the outside. I said, ‘Hey, I’m going to take the big crease.’

“There was a (defensive back) out there and he was already diving at my ankles. I knew he wasn’t he wasn’t going to physically come in and tackle me, so I just absorbed the punch and just tried to stay balanced. I knew I could get in there. I just had to step over him.”

Benson is now tied with fellow running back Thomas Jones, tight end Desmond Clark and return specialist Devin Hester for the team lead with six touchdowns this season.

Major contribution: After catching just two passes for eight yards in the previous four games, Rashied Davis made a twisting and leaping 28-yard reception on third-and-eight in overtime to set up Robbie Gould’s winning 25-yard field goal.

“I was thinking, ‘Catch the ball,’” Davis said. “I really was just focused on the ball. I don’t even remember thinking too much. The ball was in the air and I made an adjustment to catch it.”

“That was a great catch,” Grossman said. “It was man-to-man, so it was just him and Ronde Barber basically with the whole field. I want to kind of put it to the outside where he could go up and make a play on it, and he did that and put us in position to win with the field goal.”

Barber claimed that the ball hit the ground and pleaded unsuccessfully for officials to review the call. In overtime, all reviews must be requested by the replay official.

“I know for a fact that ball hit the ground,” Barber said. “If they don’t want to review it, it’s their decision. If you’re scared to make a call, what’s the use of having replay anyway?”

Filling in: The Bears were one of just four NFL teams to start the same five offensive linemen in each of their first 13 games, but that streak ended Sunday when veteran John St. Clair replaced the injured John Tait (ankle) at left tackle. St. Clair exited midway through the first quarter after hurting his hand, but he returned after missing just one play.

 

 
 
 
 
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