Bears rout Seahawks, reach 4-0 for first time since '91

CHICAGO (AP) -- Lance Briggs couldn't hide his emotions. He

smiled, he broke into a rap and even showed off his dance moves as

he got dressed after the Chicago Bears showed how serious they are

about contending for the NFC title.

Scouts Inc.'s take ...

Seattle looked flat all night. Without running back Shaun Alexander (right), the Seahawks were unable to get any running game established. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was rattled and rushed all night, getting sacked five times before retiring to the bench midway through the fourth quarter.

The Bears showed they are the front-runners in the NFC, playing solid defense and finally establishing their struggling running game. Outstanding performance by the Bears as they begin to separate themselves from the rest of the pack in the NFC.

The Bears linebacker had reason to be giddy. Chicago just

finished dominating the defending conference champion Seattle


Rex Grossman threw for 232 yards and Ricky Manning Jr.

intercepted two of Matt Hasselbeck's passes to lead Chicago to a

37-6 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.

"Thirty seven-six just shows what we're capable of, but we're a

lot better than that," Grossman said. "They're a lot better than

they played tonight and we realize that. ... We realize we may face

them down the road at some point, and we're glad we got the win."

Grossman had another solid performance, completing 17 of 31

passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions, and the Bears

improved to 4-0 for the first time since 1991.

Bernard Berrian had three receptions for a career-high 108 yards

and a touchdown.

The Bears also got their running game going after three sluggish

performances, with Thomas Jones rushing for 98 yards and two


And the league's fourth-ranked defense shut down a Seahawks team

that was missing injured running back Shaun Alexander.

"We definitely sent a message," Briggs said. "We're out to

send a message every week. Every week, we gain another believer."

Tough defense

The Bears have won eight consecutive regular-season home games, allowing no more than nine points in any of those games. They have allowed a total of 44 points during that streak -- a mere 5.5 a game

With the Bears leading 10-3, Manning intercepted Hasselbeck

twice in the second quarter to set up a field goal and touchdown.

Hasselbeck was 16-of-35 for 196 yards and did not throw a

touchdown, a week after tying a franchise record with five scoring

passes in a 42-30 victory over the New York Giants. He was sacked

five times -- including twice each by Tommie Harris and Mark


"There is really no need for that," Hasselbeck said. "I've

got to be smarter. We have to stick to our gameplan and handle that

stuff better. We didn't communicate well and didn't execute well."

Maurice Morris started for Alexander and carried 11 times for 35


The league MVP, Alexander had been bothered by a bruised bone in

his left foot before it cracked during last week's win over the

Giants. Still, he hoped to play, saying the power of prayer had

healed him and even jumping around for coach Mike Holmgren. A

second round of tests on Wednesday showed the bone was still

broken, so he sat for the first time since being drafted in 2000,

and Morris made the fifth start of his career.

The Seattle defense took a hit in the second quarter, when

safety Michael Boulware suffered a concussion while breaking up a

pass intended for Chicago's John Gilmore at the Seattle 1.

"I always think Shaun Alexander would have made a difference,"

Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said. "He's the MVP of the league.

This is the most pressure I think Matt has felt in awhile."

Sunday's game was the ninth between the two teams and their

first in three years.

The Bears thought they were on course to meet Seattle in the

playoffs last season, when they earned a first-round bye, but

Carolina knocked them off at Soldier Field. The Seahawks beat the

Panthers the next week to advance to the Super Bowl.

Seattle opened the scoring with a 23-yard field goal by Josh

Brown on its second possession, and the Bears wasted no time

responding. They drove 69 yards, with Grossman completing six of

seven passes for 57 yards. He hit Muhsin Muhammad for 14 yards on

the first play and found Muhammad cutting toward the middle of the

end zone for a 9-yard touchdown that made it 7-3 with 2:27 left in

the quarter.

Grossman struck again on the Bears' next play from scrimmage,

finding Berrian deep along the right sideline for 46 yards. That

led to a 36-yard field goal by Robbie Gould -- the first of three

for him.

The four-receiver set that worked so well for the Seahawks

against New York seemed to play into the Bears' strength, leaving

Hasselbeck under pressure all night.

"If you need time, it's going to be hard to find with our

defensive line," Briggs said. "You like that rhyme?"

Briggs smiled and danced -- after the Bears stepped all over the


The pressure created opportunities for the defensive backs --

most notably, Manning.

On Tuesday, he pleaded no contest to a felony assault charge

stemming from an incident at a restaurant in Los Angeles. But he

put aside his legal issues on Sunday.

Manning picked off a short pass intended for Deion Branch at the

Chicago 25 and returned it 39 yards before Hasselbeck knocked him

out of bounds at the Seahawks 36 about 5 minutes into the second

quarter. That led to a 20-yard field goal by Gould that made it


Seattle's next possession ended when Manning intercepted

Hasselbeck at the Seahawks 40 and five plays later, it was 20-3.

Jones capped the drive with a 3-yard run -- the Bears' first rushing

touchdown this season.

"This game is big," Briggs said. "Big. Big. This is the way

we've got to play at home."

Game notes
Holmgren said Boulware should be ready to play next week.

... Berrian has caught three passes of 40 or more yards this