CINCINNATI (AP) The A-Train rumbled past Sweetness and the Kansas Comet without even slowing.
Anthony Thomas set a Bears rookie rushing record with 188 yards yesterday and Chicago”s punishing defense got its first shutout in eight years, 24-0 over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bears (4-1) have won four in a row for the first time since 1995, the last time they made the playoffs. They”re off to their best start since 1991, when they finished 11-5.
No one got more notice than Thomas, who set Michigan”s career rushing records. The second-round pick had not run for more than 58 yards in a game.
Once he got rolling, no one could stop him. He darted through big holes on his 22 carries, topping James Allen”s rookie record of 163 yards in 1998. It was the eight-best total overall in Bears history.
Walter Payton”s best rookie game was 134 yards. Gail Sayers managed 118.
“It”s something a rookie record for the Bears,” Thomas marveled. “That”s a compliment, that some of those guys didn”t do it. It”s something I”ll think about for the rest of my life.”
Chicago quarterback Jim Miller threw his second touchdown pass, a 13-yarder to Marty Booker in the third quarter, and Thomas sprinted around the left end for a 23-yard touchdown run that sent fans home with 9:05 left.
He got a lot of help from the Bears” top two rookies. First-round pick David Terrell led the receivers with seven catches for 91 yards, including a 41-yard gain. Thomas made everyone stand back and admire.
“He was unbelievable,” Miller said. “You saw it on the field. He”s got a knack. We knew it was a matter of time for him. David and A-Train both gave us a spark.”
The crowd of 63,408 grew angry, got ugly and left early as the Bengals were shut out at home for the first time in three years. Linebacker Takeo Spikes was back after missing a game because of his father”s death, but his emotional pregame introduction didn”t carry over.
The Bears kept it close in the first half by missing a field goal, having another wiped out by a penalty and fumbling at the Bengals” two-yard line.
“They were consistent in what they were doing, and we couldn”t keep them from doing what they wanted to do,” Bengals coach Dick LeBeau said.
“It seemed like they had three extra guys in there,” Dillon said. “There was nothing we could do, so you just do what you can.”
The Bears” defense not only stopped the Bengals, it punished them. Safety Tony Parrish perfectly timed a hit on Darnay Scott on a long pass in the third quarter and knocked him out of the game with bruised ribs.
Miller, who had thrown only three touchdown passes all season, kept Chicago”s hunt-and-peck offense rolling by making good choices and accurate throws. He completed 23 of 30 passes for 232 yards, and had a 1-yard touchdown pass to Fred Baxter in the second quarter.