The Bears might be without running back Cedric Benson for the remainder of the season after he had to be carted off the field following an ankle injury in the second quarter, but at least they kept their slim playoff hopes alive for another week.
And as long as opponents keep kicking the ball to Devin Hester, the Bears have a chance to win almost any game. His two return touchdowns, one punt and one kickoff, kept the Bears close enough to the Broncos long enough for the sputtering offense to come to life. The 37-34 overtime victory leaves the Bears just one game out of the final NFC playoff slot, despite their 5-6 record.
Quarterback Rex Grossman, coming off two impressive performances, was in danger of reverting to the "Bad Rex" of last season. His passer rating was 29.5 through three quarters, and he had lost two fumbles. But then he completed passes of nine yards to Bernard Berrian, 21 yards to Rashied Davis and 13 yards to Muhsin Muhammad to start the game-tying touchdown drive that ended with a three-yard touchdown to Berrian, who made a diving catch in the end zone along the west sideline with 28 seconds left against seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey. Berrian was so close to being out of bounds that the play had to survive a review before it was officially ruled that his knee landed in.
"I saw that he caught the ball clean," said Grossman in the Soldier Field interview room after the game. "I couldn't tell if his knee was down. It was an amazing catch. The corner didn't bite as much as we thought, but I threw it off his back shoulder and he did a good job of adjusting and pulling it in."
Grossman finished with an adequate 66.9 passer rating, which could have been a lot better were it not for several brutal drops by his receivers. The Bears will probably need to rely more on their quarterback the remainder of the season.
With 12:20 left in the first half, Cedric Benson suffered a left ankle injury at the end of a 21-yard run, was carted off to the locker room and did not return. He left on crutches with his injured ankle in a protective walking boot, finishing with 47 yards on eight carries and a 5.9-yard average. After a slow start in which he averaged just 3.0 yards per carry through the first nine games, Benson picked up 136 yards on 19 carries in the past two games for a 7.1-yard average.
RB Adrian Peterson
Nam Y. Huh/AP Images
Head coach Lovie Smith didn't provide much information on the injury, but he didn't seem very hopeful.
"Whenever you don't finish the game, of course that's not good," Smith said. "He has a pretty good ankle injury."
Adrian Peterson replaced Benson and managed just 45 yards on 17 carries despite some inspired running in close quarters.
"We have confidence in him," Smith said. "He's a good football player. Whenever we've called on him, whether it was [due to] injury or whatever, he's always stepped up to the plate. We feel very comfortable with him, as we do [with] Garrett Wolfe. Garrett gives you a different dimension, so we feel good about both guys."
Peterson also added a team-high five catches for 41 yards and is tied for second on the team with 33 receptions, while Wolfe carried three time for 29 yards. He had just six carries for two yards through the first 10 games.
NEWS & NOTES
All of that plus much more in the January issue of ...
BEAR REPORT, the only publication exclusively dedicated to your Chicago Bears ... CLICK HERE to subscribe today