ST. LOUIS—The yellow cart raced across the new FieldTurf at the Edward Jones Dome, bound for an unwilling passenger who first wore a look of defiance and then, ultimately, disgust.
Bears quarterback Rex Grossman first had refused assistance from lineman Fred Miller after Rams linebackers Jeremy Loyd and Trev Faulk chased and twisted him down.
Finally, he begrudgingly accepted Miller's help, only to rise and take a few gimpy steps on his suddenly uncooperative left ankle, before he signalled for the trainers and collapsed.
Forget the Bears' 17-13 exhibition loss to St. Louis on Friday night.
In news almost unfathomable to Bears fans and anyone close to the snake-bitten quarterback, Grossman suffered a broken left ankle on the play that occurred with 11 minutes 8 seconds left in the second quarter, his 19th play of the night.
The Bears said Grossman will undergo surgery and will miss three to four months.
That means missing at least eight games in a best-case scenario and at least 13 in a worst case. As if there is such a thing now that plenty of the hype and hope has been sucked out of this Bears season a full four weeks before the season opener in Washington.
General manager Jerry Angelo said after the game the team would stand pat with its quarterbacks and he and coach Lovie Smith affirmed Chad Hutchinson will assume the No. 1 role.
"We're going with the hand we dealt ourselves," Angelo said. "The good news is we have one month until the opener and [offensive coordinator] Ron Turner is here. We have confidence in him. [As for Grossman,] if we're contingent on one player we didn't built this team to win. It's a tough blow, but we'll get through it."
Grossman tried to remain upbeat.
"It's disappointing, obviously, but it doesn't help to dwell on it," he said. "I'm a positive person. I'm hurt and I'm going to get better. That's all I can do."
It's the third straight season that will be defined by an injury to Grossman, who had labored so hard and long to recover from tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last Sept. 26.
The ramifications of this injury can't be underestimated for a franchise desperately needing to right its fortunes. Quarterbacks Chad Hutchinson and rookie Kyle Orton now sit atop the Bears' depth chart.
Hutchinson finished 2-for-2 for 14 yards. Orton went 7-for-10 for 93 yards and an interception. Kurt Kittner had a potential touchdown pass that might have won the game with 1:55 left, but rookie receiver Mark Bradley dropped it.
"It's adversity, but I think we'll be able to respond well," running back Thomas Jones said. "Chad is a great quarterback. He proved himself last year and made a lot of plays, and we have some other young quarterbacks who are good too. When one guy goes down, another has to be able to step up."
Jeff George, Jeff Blake, Vinny Testaverde, Quincy Carter, Tim Couch, Shaun Kingwhom Angelo drafted in Tampa Bayand Brock Huard are some of the unsigned veteran quarterbacks available.
Grossman had completed 6 of 11 passes for 52 yards before exiting, including a 4-yard gain to tight end Darnell Sanders at the Rams' 38-yard line just before he got dragged down and rolled his left ankle.
Hutchinson replaced Grossman and promptly finished off the 13-play, 78-yard scoring drive to give the Bears a 7-0 lead. Running back Adrian Peterson scored on a 9-yard burst up the middle.
Befitting the Bears' night, however, all went downhill from there.
For the second straight game, the Bears' second-string defense surrendered scoring drives on its first two possessions.
Rams reserve quarterback Jamie Martin found wideout Kevin Curtis on a 7-yard touchdown strike to cap a 12-play, 74-yard drive that tied the score 7-7 with 1:23 left in the half. Michael Haynes registered one of three Bears sacks on the drive, but the second-string secondary again looked overmatched.
St. Louis then scored on its opening drive of the second half, with Shaun McDonald beating Rashied Davis for a 5-yard touchdown pass from Martin. St. Louis' drive covered 10 plays and 73 yards. Remy Hamilton's 33-yard field goal with 2:44 left in the third gave St. Louis a 17-7 lead. The Bears added two fourth-quarter field goals by Nick Novak.
Playing with just three days of rest in between exhibition games and against a stronger opponent, the Bears came out tentative offensively. They went three-and-out on their first two possessions and posted just one first down and 25 total yards while not entering Rams territory the entire first quarter.
The first-string defense, which now will be counted on even more in light of Grossman's injury, looked strong for the second straight exhibition. It allowed 70 yards and four first downs on four possessions by the potent Rams offense and posted several big plays.
Adewale Ogunleye had two sacks and forced a hurried throw by starter Marc Bulger. Charles Tillman came up with a spectacular diving interception and 30-yard return, helping offset his holding penalty that negated a Mike Brown interception on the same possession.
But no matter, the one-year anniversary of coach Lovie Smith's debut in this same stadium had a pall over it after Grossman exited.
"I began praying as soon as [Grossman] hit the field," receiver Muhsin Muhammad said. "I'll be staying with him in spirit. I just pray that it's a fast recovery."