So when Bears' kicker Kevin Butler saw his kicking colleague, San Diego's John Carney, miss a potential game-tying field goal with 71 seconds remaining, Butler's emotions were torn between happiness for his teammates and a touch of empathy for his fellow kicker.
When the game ended, Butler sought out Carney on the field and offered his sympathies. "That situation happens to every one of us," said Butler. "It's an unfortunate situation and you don't wish it on anybody."
Of course, better Carney than Butler, in the final analysis. And the final score? The Bears won 16-13 on a Sunday night at Jack Murphy Stadium, thanks in large part to Butler 's three three-pointers, including a 54-yarder. The Bears' other points came on a 38-yard scoring pass from Jim Harbaugh to rookie Curtis Conway.
Harbaugh completed 13 of 24 passes for 159 yards and the scoring strike to Conway. "It's a good sign when you beat a team on the road and you don't play as well as you are capable," said Harbaugh. "That encourages us for the rest of the season."
The Chargers jumped out to a 10-0 first-half lead thanks to a Carney field goal and a two-yard touchdown run by holder John Kidd on a fake field goal.
The Bears opened the third quarter with a nice scoring drive, culminating in Butler's third field goal of the day and highlighted by fullback Bob Christian's 36-yard catch and run. The Bears then forced the Chargers to punt, Terry Obee returned the boot 25 yards and soon after Harbaugh and Conway hooked up for the scoring toss.
"I just got it up quick to Curtis and he ran under it," said Harbaugh. "I stepped up in the pocket, pump faked and got rid of it. It was a stop-and-go."
Said Conway: "We were trying to get it downfield today and we felt that we could pass on them. It was just the right call at the right time and Jim laid it up there."
At the end of the game, it all came down to Carney's right foot, and the Bears emerged victorious. Bears Head Coach Dave Wannstedt was relieved after the game.
"When you come out here and play a San Diego team that has won two in a row, they are at home and a sellout crowd, these aren't easy," he said. "Our team has been in situations to win ballgames all year long. And, hopefully, we will continue to be in this situation."