for this game

Turnovers lead Bears to rout and 7-0 start

Oct 29, 2006 - 9:29 PM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- The Chicago Bears continue to put up big numbers. The biggest is a 7-0 start. Rex Grossman threw for three touchdowns as the Bears took advantage of a handful of early turnovers and rolled to a 41-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Starting the season with seven straight wins for the first time since 1985, when the franchise last won the Super Bowl, Chicago (7-0) improved upon an impressive home scoring margin where it has roughed up opponents, 152-30.

"(The start) is amazing," Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said. "A good thing about it is we have a chance to be 8-0 and so on and so forth. We've just got to keep playing like this."

Excluding a disappointing 29-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC divisional playoffs, the Bears have won their last 10 games at Soldier Field, dating to last season.

"I think that's the NFL and team-wise, we're a lot better football team at home than we are on the road," Chicago coach Lovie Smith said. "But you have to be able to score on the road and win football games. We've still gone on the road and won, but we need to play a little bit better. The next time we go out hopefully we will play a little better."

Opening the game with a eight-play drive that resulted in a 43-yard field goal by Robbie Gould, the Bears started to roll thereafter as the 49ers wilted under Chicago's pressure.

San Francisco's Maurice Hicks fumbled the ensuing kickoff, leading to a seven-yard touchdown run by Thomas Jones. Following an unsuccessful drive by both teams, young quarterback Alex Smith was intercepted in 49er territory on a spectacular play by linebacker Brian Urlacher, who caught his own deflected pass.

"Great ball awareness, great athletic ability," Bears defensive coach Ron Rivera said. "With his attitude and a wareness you're going to make plays like that."

Six plays later, Grossman, who finished 23-of-29 for 252 yards, found Muhsin Muhammad over the middle of the end zone for a five-yard TD pass.

Still bothered by the pressure of the Bears' defense, Smith lost a fumble attempting to scramble out of the pocket on San Francisco's next offensive play, leading to a one-yard TD plunge by Cedric Benson and a 24-0 lead with 1:06 remaining in the first quarter.

"This team is heading in the right direction," Smith said. "We wanted to take this opportunity to showcase where we think we're going. To come out and have turnovers in the first half and put us in that hole, it's frustrating."

The 24 points set a franchise record for most in the opening quarter for Chicago, which forced five turnovers in the rout.

The Bears continued the onslaught in the second quarter, increasing the score to 41-0 and tying a team record for most first-half points. Chicago set the mark against Washington on November 28, 1948.

"In the first half, I don't think (effort) was ever an issue," San Francisco coach Mike Nolan said. "I though it was a lack of maturity, where guys were looking around like, 'what's happening to us.' We tried to talk about it on the sideline and stay focused, but we shot ourselves in the foot too many times. Turnovers were probably the most critical errors we made."

A bye week removed from his four-interception struggles in a 24-23 improbable win over Arizona on October 17, Grossman was happy to continue his maturation process.

"I am just glad I went out and did what the coaches asked me to do, and responded to having a poor game," he said. "I learned from some of my mistakes and continue to get better."

Jones rushed 23 times for 111 yards and tight end Desmond Clark had six catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns.

Smith finished 16-of-26 for 146 yards with a fourth-quarter TD pass to Antonio Bryant for the 49ers.

Frank Gore continued a strong sophomore season, rushing 12 times for 111 yards. He entered the game sixth in the NFC in rushing yards.

San Francisco (2-5) has been outscored, 116-37, in dropping all three of its road games.

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