ST. LOUIS (AP) -The Chicago Bears are coming off a blowout loss far out of character with the rest of their middle-of-the-road season.
On Sunday, they'll attempt to regain their footing in a balanced NFC North race against a team much more accustomed to getting manhandled. The St. Louis Rams (2-8) have been outscored 75-3 in the first half the last two weeks and have lost five times by 20 or more points.
The Bears (5-5) were awful in a 37-3 loss at Green Bay last week that cost them a chance of taking control of the division. They're in a three-way tie with the Vikings and Packers, but with plenty of time to put it all together.
``We're on one week, the next week we're off,'' defensive back Danieal Manning said. ``Once we circle the wagons and believe what the next man's job is to do, we'll be fine.''
From quarterback Kyle Orton's perspective, there's no point in revisiting the Bears' lone loss by more than seven points.
ter returning from a sprained right ankle that sidelined him for 1 1/2 games, and limped much of the time against the Packers after taking a shot from Aaron Kampman. He's thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception, only 18 shy of the franchise record held by Erik Kramer.
But the Bears have yet to build any real momentum, never winning more than two straight. Mistake-avoidance hasn't meant much yet.
``What you do from this point forward is going to determine whether you make the playoffs,'' Orton said. ``Not what you did the previous 10 games, but what you do the next six. We need to get a win streak going.''
And keep the Rams down with another fast start.
``I don't know necessarily the reason for it, but teams have been able to get after them pretty good early in the game,'' Orton said. ``We'll obviously try to do that as well.''
Respectability is enough of a goal right now for the Rams, embarrassed last week on both sides of the ball by a 49ers team coming off a six-game losing streak, and by the Jets the previous week. Right now, St. Louis looks more like the team that started 0-4 and got coach Scott Linehan fired than the revitalized bunch that won its first two under Jim Haslett before reverting to sad sack form.
st-half possessions. This from a bunch not nearly good enough to overcome such adversity, especially with Steven Jackson (thigh) out for the fourth game in five weeks.
``We've been in position to make plays and we haven't made them. We've been out of position and caused big plays to happen,'' cornerback Ron Bartell said. ``Guys just need to take a hard look at themselves and do their job.''
Quarterback Marc Bulger has a firm grip on his job despite repeated shaky showings, including a hand in all three turnovers last week. He got a big vote of confidence from Haslett, who noted going to 37-year-old backup Trent Green would be only a temporary fix to mollify the fans.
Bulger has four years left on a six-year, $65 million contract, which makes him the franchise's de facto long-term answer to Haslett's thinking. Bulger is doing his best to be a leader off the field, recalling fatherly advice when growing up in Pittsburgh and wondering about the Steelers' motivation when they were out of the running.
``If you're a professional it's what you do, and it's your job,'' Bulger said. ``Coach Haslett told us he's going to find out who wants to be here. You're on tape, and if you give up it'll show up on film and you won't last long in this league.''
arren Sapp, now working for ``Inside the NFL,'' ripped them on a local radio program.
``I really don't listen to anything Warren Sapp has to say; it's about what we do in here,'' Manning said. ``We have the team. We have the players.''
Four of the Bears' last five opponents have averaged better than 40 percent success on third down. The Packers were at 50 percent (7-for-14) last week, and scored on drives of 73 and 88 yards.
``We have a couple things that we need to improve on,'' coach Lovie Smith said. ``If you look at last week, we didn't do a lot well.''
Smith built his reputation on defense with the Rams, serving as coordinator and assistant head coach from 2001-03. He and the rest of the coaching staff are worried the Bears will bring out the best in a Rams team that wasn't a punching bag in victories over the Redskins and Cowboys.
``You put the film on and you don't see a 2-8 team,'' offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. ``You see a good football team.''
Watching just the second half, maybe, after the opposition has put it on cruise control. The Rams know better.
``We've played horrible,'' Bartell said. ``Make no mistake about it.''

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