CHICAGO (AP) – The Chicago Bears showed how serious they are about contending for the NFC title, dominating the defending conference champions.

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.

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 touchdowns.

And the league’s fourth-ranked defense shut down a Seahawks team that was missing injured running back Shaun Alexander.

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, after tying a franchise record with five scoring passes the previous week in a 42-30 victory over the New York Giants. He was sacked five times – including twice each by Tommie Harris and Mark Anderson.

Maurice Morris started for Alexander and carried 11 times for 35 yards.

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.

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. 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 was ineffective against the Bears. Hasselbeck found himself under pressure, and Chicago’s defensive backs took advantage.

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 13-3.

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.

AP-ES-10-01-06 2327EDT


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