The Bears (4-5) scored 19 points and only three came from their offense. They got a game-saving blocked field goal from a player who hadn't played in two years because of a devastating knee injury, then won it to pull within a game of the NFC North Division lead with -- of all things -- a safety in overtime.
"There are three phases to the game and normally if you play two of them well you have a chance," coach Lovie Smith said.
Appropriately, it was the defense which won it after they had carried an offense that had produced only Paul Edinger's 29-yard game-tying field goal with 52 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Bears defensive ends Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye hit Titans backup quarterback Billy Volek in the end zone as he tried to throw on third-and-14 three minutes into overtime. Brown got credit for the sack, the ball came loose and Ogunleye recorded the game-winning two points when he fell on Fred Miller after the Titans' tackle recovered the ball in the end zone.
"When you've got a quarterback with a team in the end zone, you're always thinking 'hold them and get field position back,' " Ogunleye said. "But if they're going to drop back and pass in the end zone, you've got to think safety, you've got to think big play And that's what happened."
The defense received a break when Titans quarterback Steve McNair was unable to play due to a bruised sternum. They harassed Volek much of the game, recording three sacks while yielding 27-of-44 for 334 yards. He still had two big plays -- a 29-yard first-quarter touchdown strike to Derrick Mason behind Bears cornerback Jerry Azumah and a 47-yard TD bomb to wide receiver Drew Bennett with six minutes left in regulation for 17-14 Tennessee lead.
"We made plays we needed to," Brown said of the Bears' defense. "And the offense came up huge, going down and scoring when they needed to."
The Bears' offense accounted for only 176 net yards and just 75 through the air. Yet, after dropping three passes, wide receiver David Terrell hauled in a crucial fourth-and-two pass for 11 yards to Tennessee's 37. Krenzel, who was sacked five times and completed 10-of-28 for 116 yards, found Bobby Wade over the middle one play later for a 22-yard gain. It set up Edinger's game-tying field goal.
"Obviously your goal is to go out and score more than three points, but once again our defense is playing as well, if not better, than any defense in the league," Krenzel said. "They came through for us big again today.
"Obviously we (the offense) came nowhere near holding up our end."
It didn't matter because special teams and the defense took care of everything else.
When the Titans moved into scoring position with two seconds left in regulation, Bears offensive tackle Marc Colombo used the occasion of his first game back from a dislocated kneecap to deflect Craig Hentrich's 52-yard field goal try as time expired.
"I got my hand on the ball," Colombo said. "We got good penetration, I got in the line of flight and knocked down the ball."
The Bears' other points came on big plays from special teams and defense.
Bears defensive end Michael Haynes noticed a particular crossing pass pattern being run by the Titans out of the shotgun and remembered coaches telling him to watch for screen passes in that situation. He did, guessed right and plucked Volek's toss. Haynes ran it back 45 yards for a tying TD, with help from a late downfield block by McQuarters on Robert Holcombe.
"The hardest thing was just catching it," Haynes said. "In practice you always try acrobatic catches and it never seems to work. It seemed to work this week. After that, I was just running."
McQuarters produced the other big play, taking a punt with 3:56 left in the third quarter back 75 yards for a touchdown and 14-7 Bears lead. He went right, cut back behind a Todd McMillon block and took it the distance.
"Any time I get my hands on the ball, I'm trying to get to the end zone," McQuarters said.
A few minutes later, McQuarters did it again, going 85 yards. But an illegal block above the waist call on linebacker Corey Jenkins negated the return. Then the Titans (3-6) pulled within 14-10 33-yard field goal 2:05 into the fourth quarter.
The Bears' defense and special teams overcame their own offense's 2-of-17 effort on third-down conversions, only 72 yards rushing on 29 carries by running back Anthony Thomas and an abysmal 19.3 passer rating by Krenzel.
"There's a lot of pressure on us lately and we haven't been holding up our end of the bargain," Thomas said. "We scored three points today; our defense and our special teams did the rest. We can't rely on that."
Players keep saying this, and for three weeks they've gotten away with it anyway for their first three-game winning streak since 2001.
Facing the high-powered Colts Sunday in Soldier Field will be the ultimate test for the Bears' unorthodox victory formula.
"This team's unbelievable," Colombo said. "The players, in general, are just resilient.
"This is a great team. We've got a great coaching staff and a lot of good things are going to happen."
They already have for three straight weeks.