All quarterback Brian Griese had to do to pull the Bears' playoff hopes back from the brink of extinction was drive an offense that hadn't been in the end zone all day 97 yards for a touchdown with 1:52 remaining and no timeouts.
And oh, by the way, the audio in his helmet went out just before the drive started, ending his communication with the sideline. So the 10-year veteran was on his own, operating without time for a huddle, which worked out just fine.
Griese got the Bears in the end zone with nine seconds to spare, finding Muhsin Muhammad on a 15-yard touchdown to give the Bears a 19-16 victory and a 3-4 record that keeps them in contention in a parity-heavy NFC.
"We needed this for our season," Griese said. "We had a lot to lose."
A loss would have left the Bears at 2-5, and they could have kissed their postseason plans goodbye.
"We had to win the game," Muhammad (five catches, 79 yards) said after his biggest game of the season. "We were dealt that crappy hand [at the end]. We just had to play the cards that were dealt. We went out there and we're sitting in the huddle, and Olin [Kruetz] goes, 'How sweet would it be to go 97 for the win?' And we started putting it together."
Under Griese, the Bears offense has shown signs of rejuvenation that were absent in the first three games of the season under Rex Grossman. The Bears rolled up 458 yards in Week 6 and followed that up with 386 against the Eagles, even though they made it to the end zone just once. In the three previous games under Griese, the Bears had scored 85 points
QB Brian Griese
Rusty Kennedy/AP Images
Although the start of "The Drive" began slowly, Griese said that was the key to the 103 seconds that saved the season, at least for now.
"The biggest thing is just getting started," Griese said. "After you get a couple completions, defenses seem to get a little antsy and linemen rush a few times in a row. So they're not as rested, and you have a little more time to push the ball down the field. That's what happened."
Despite the importance of the situation, TE Desmond Clark said there was no panic in the Bears' huddle.
"That probably was a season-saving drive we just put together," he said, "but it was calm because we practice that. There wasn't anyone shaken by the situation."
Griese's throws accounted for all 97 yards as he completed 7 of 11 passes, including two spikes and utilized five different receivers. He finished 27-of-41 for 322 yards with no interceptions, just one sack and a passer rating of 97.8.
But if the Bears have another letdown this Sunday at home against the Lions, like they did two weeks ago at home against the Vikings after beating Green Bay, The Drive won't matter much.
"This win won't mean anything if we don't win next week," Griese said. "We talked all week about if we're in a hole at 2-5, it's not a good situation. But now we're at a point where if we can get to .500 for our bye week [after the Lions game], I would feel very good about that position going forward for the rest of the season."
News & Notes
Griese had a passer rating of 97.8 and was not intercepted for the first time in his four starts. He had been picked off six times in his first three starts. … WR Devin Hester was not allowed by the Eagles to handle a punt or a kickoff, but he had his most serious involvement in the passing game with three catches for 41 yards, including two for 30 yards on the game-winning drive. … Muhammad had his biggest day of the season with five catches for 79 yards. He had just four catches for 36 yards in the first three games. … Clark continues to be on pace for the post productive season of his nine-year career with five catches for 32 yards. … DT Tommie Harris, who has battled knee and hamstring injuries all season, had two sacks to give him a team-best six for the year.
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