Robbie Gould’s 38-yard field goal with 8:41 left in overtime gave the Chicago Bears a surreal, come-from-behind 23-20 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in a game delayed by 1 hour and 53 minutes by severe weather conditions at rainy and blustery Soldier Field Sunday.
The victory improves the Bears to 6-4 and keeps them in the playoff conversation, not only in the NFC North where division-leading Detroit lost, but also in a suddenly crowded NFC wild card field.
“We always talk to our players about creating turnovers and not turning the ball
over, and we did a very good job of that today,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said.
“That allowed us to stay in the game and be in the game.”
The loss was another bitter pill to swallow for Baltimore, which slumped to 4-6, and sees their chances to repeat fading rapidly.
Gould’s heroics came after Bears QB Josh McCown found TE Martellus Bennett down the seam for a 43-yard pick-up on third and nine to put the Bears into field goal range. ”We got the coverage we wanted, and Martellus made an awesome play,” McCown said.
From there, Matt Forte carried a couple of times before the Bears once again called on the clutch-kicking Gould to send what was left of the Soldier Field faithful home happy.
It didn’t look good for the Bears at the outset. Baltimore drove 66-yards on its initial possession, with RB Ray Rice ripping off a 47-yard run to put Baltimore on the Bears endzone doorstep. Rice carried it over from the one to give the Ravens an early advantage.
Justin Tucker’s 52-yard field goal made it 10-0, and the Bears looked as lethargic and dreary as the Chicago skyline.
Play was suspended, perhaps thankfully for the Bears, when tornado warnings, heavy rain and winds forced stadium officials and the NFL to clear the stadium bowl. The delay lasted nearly two hours before players and fans were allowed back onto the field and into the Soldier Field seats.
The Bears appeared like a different team from there. Gould’s short 20-yard field goal got Chicago on the board, then rookie DE David Bass tipped a Joe Flacco pass and gathered it in for a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown to tie the game at 10.
After the Ravens struck quickly to retake the lead on a nine play, 80-yard drive culminating in a five-yard pitch and catch from Flacco to Torrey Smith, the game settled into an old-time, slugfest, with both teams struggling to gain footing on the wet and spongy Soldier Field turf.
The Bears came up with another takeaway when rookie Jon Bostic intercepted Flacco in Ravens territory, but the Bears drive stalled and Gould came on to kick a 46-yard field goal to pull the Bears within four at 17-13.
Dogged by 13 penalties for 111 yards, the Bears put together a 11 play, 83-yard drive early in the fourth quarter that may have saved the season. McCown threw a 14-yard screen pass to RB Matt Forte where Forte displayed both his strength and elusiveness to find paydirt and give the Bears a 20-17 lead.
The Ravens bounced back, driving to the Bears two-yard line as time was expiring in regulation, but a patchwork Bears defense came up with stops when it needed to. Tucker’s 20-yard field goal sent the game into overtime.
Baltimore won the toss, and after taking over on its own 35-yard line, managed a first down before the Bears defense held.
From there, Chicago’s first two plays went for a yard before McCown’s completion to Bennett set up the happy ending.
Bear Tracks: The maligned Bears defense came up with some difference making plays. DE Julius Peppers collected two sacks, Bass had the interception return for a TD, and Bostic’s int set up a Gould field goal….McCown finished 19-of-31 for 216 yards and a touchdown. He was protected well again by a Chicago offensive line that kept him clean….Forte picked up 83 hard-earned yards on 18 carries….WR Alshon Jeffery caught 7 passes for 83-yards, several in key situations….The 43-yard reception by Bennett in OT was the longest of his professional career.