CHICAGO -- Washington Redskins defensive end Fred Stokes knows a godsend when he sees it.
And when a fourth-quarter pass by Chicago's Jim Harbaugh bounced off Washington's Eric Williams yesterday, Stokes caught the floating ricochet for the first interception of his five-year NFL career.
"Defensive linemen don't look for interceptions," said Stokes, who is deeply religious. "That was like a football dropped out of heaven."
The Redskins were most appreciative. Stokes had no return on his interception, but it set up a 36-yard touchdown drive the Redskins needed to put away the Bears, 20-7.
It was the kind of heroics the Redskins have come to expect from Stokes this season. He had a streak of five straight games with a sack snapped yesterday, yet came up with the big turnover.
On a day when the Redskins grew a little thinner in defensive line depth, Stokes was their saving grace. He filled in capably for right end Markus Koch after Koch went down in the first quarter with a torn ligament in the left knee. Koch is expected to be out at least six weeks.
"It hurts," Stokes said. "Markus is a great player and a great friend. He and I communicate a lot."
"It'll definitely be a loss to us," said Williams, who deflected two Harbaugh passes on the day.
"But the thing that's neat about our defense is it seems we have interchangeable parts and we keep marching. Fred's no slouch. And if I go down, [Bobby] Wilson or Jumpy [Geathers] can come in for me."
Six games into an unbeaten season, the Redskins' defense appears to be greater than the sum of its parts.
"You never know what causes it," said Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, "but right now we seem to have a tight chemistry. The last few games, it's been hard to get down the field against us. This is the best defense we've played around here in a long time."
The Bears, who fell to second place behind Detroit in the NFC Central at 4-2, crossed midfield only once in the first half. When they finally scored in the third quarter on Neal Anderson's 1-yard touchdown dive, it marked the first score the Skins have given up on grass this season. They have shut out three teams at home.
The Redskins' defense dominated play early, keeping the Bears buried deep in their own end. Chicago's first five offensive series ended with punts.
Linebacker Wilber Marshall, signed by the Redskins in 1988, returned to Soldier Field for the first time since leaving the Bears and had 10 tackles and a game-ending interception in the end zone . . . The victory was the 119th of Gibbs' career, breaking a tie with George Allen for 13th place on the all-time list . . . Chip Lohmiller hit field goals of 47 and 23 yards kicking with the wind for the Redskins.
Bears coach Mike Ditka said his team wasn't a match for the Redskins. "If we would have beaten them, it would have been a tremendous upset," Ditka said. "We are not as good as they are, and that's a fact." . . . The Redskins' average margin of victory after six games is 24.8 . . . They host the Cleveland Browns next week and then get a bye. Gibbs has promised the Redskins a week off if they go into the break 7-0. "I guess I'm going to have to live with it," he said of his deal. "I could say I lied, but I don't think I'd get away with it."