GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Of course the defense made the plays that mattered most for Chicago. These are, after all, the Bears.
"Defensively we asked them to take over and play the way they have been capable of doing," Chicago coach Lovie Smith said. "Of course, how we played early, taking the ball away specifically, is what I am talking about. It was an added bonus getting a couple of scores."
Chicago (9-6) snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the second time in seven tries. The Cardinals (5-10) lost for the 10th time in 11 games.
"I can't even state how big this is. It is either win or you are done," Peppers said. "We can't control what happens next week with other teams, but if we don't win today, we don't have a shot."
Matt Forte gained 88 yards in 12 carries, including a 4-yard TD run for Chicago before aggravating a right ankle injury and leaving early in the second half.
Jay Cutler completed just one of his first 11 passes, then went 5-of-5 passing on a touchdown drive in the final minutes of the first half. He finished 12-of-26 passing for 146 yards and a touchdown.
"It's obviously not ideal, but football is football,'" Hoyer said, who spent three seasons as a backup in New England. "You just want to go out and play the best you can and definitely improve off of this and just try to make the most of the opportunity."
Hoyer completed 11 of 19 passes for 105 yards and one interception. Kelvin Hayden picked off his pass late in the game and returned it 39 yards to the Arizona 10.
"It's been a long season, man," Fitzgerald said. "Whenever I can make a play and make an impact, I try to do it. Today some things opened up. We were able to make some plays. But it didn't equate to a win, so it's all for nothing."
But Forte rambled 36 yards on the final play of the first quarter and Cutler threw 30 yards to Marshall to the Arizona 4 -- the quarterback's first completion of the game in seven throws. Forte carried it in from there and Chicago led 14-3.
With no timeouts and after completing just one of his first 11 passes, Cutler went 5-for-5, capped by an 11-yarder to a wide-open Marshall with 19 seconds left in the half.
"We were really struggling and got into a two-minute situation and guys were still working to get open," Cutler said. "They made some great catches for me. It wasn't the best game. It wasn't the prettiest game, but we got done what we needed to get done."
Notes: The record for interceptions returned for TDs is nine by San Diego in 1961. ... Arizona's Patrick Peterson bruised a knee late in the first quarter but never missed a play. ... A huge section of the crowd was decked in Bears gear. ... Cardinals have not thrown a TD pass in six games. In last five games, Arizona has thrown 12 interceptions, four returned for TDs. ... Zastudil set the NFL season record with 44 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line, for the second week in a row a franchise record six of them against the Bears. ... Chicago safety Chris Conti left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press