Robbie Gould raced over to his tee on the Chicago Bears sideline after the New Orleans Saints tried to ice him with a timeout in overtime Thursday night. A few practice kicks later, Gould booted the Saints out of Soldier Field with another devastating loss.
Gould connected from 35 yards on Chicago's first possession of overtime, lifting the Bears to a 27-24 victory that boosted their playoff hopes.
After leaving Chicago with season-ending losses the past two years, the Saints looked as if they were ready to end their frustration. Instead, their slim playoff hopes took another blow thanks to Gould, who also converted a 28-yarder on the final play of regulation.
Drew Brees hit Marques Colston for an 11-yard touchdown pass with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter to give New Orleans its first lead at 24-21. Kyle Orton responded by leading the Bears on a tying drive, setting up overtime between two 7-6 teams.
The Bears won the coin toss and got another big break when the Saints' Roman Harper interfered with Devin Hester on a deep pass down the middle to set Chicago up at the 15. After Orton stumbled back and put the ball in the middle of the field, the Saints called time before Gould knocked a 35-yarder through the uprights.
After a little practice, Gould got back on the field and converted again with no problem.
"Bottom line for us, we're still in the hunt," Chicago's Lance Briggs said.
The Bears still need plenty of help to reach the postseason.
The Bears (8-6) are a half-game behind NFC North leader Minnesota, but the Vikings hold the tiebreaker. Chicago also is a half-game out of a wild-card spot.
It was another rough night in Chicago for New Orleans (7-7), which lost the NFC championship game there two years ago and saw its slim postseason hopes vanish with a loss on the final day last season at Soldier Field. The last-place Saints still have a shot at the wild card but can forget about catching NFC South leader Carolina.
Brees, challenging Dan Marino's single-season record for yards passing, was 24-of-43 for 232 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He looked more like himself late in the game after a miserable first half. Harassed by the defense, Brees was just 10-of-24 for 93 yards and a 49.5 passer rating in the first two quarters as Chicago grabbed a 21-7 lead.
Danieal Manning returned the opening kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown and helped set up Matt Forte's 1-yard TD run with a 52-yard return early in the second as the Bears grabbed a 14-7 lead. Forte's score came after Jason David grabbed Hester as he tried to catch a deep pass down the middle, putting the ball on the 5.
Orton's 6-yard scramble in the closing minute of the half made it a 14-point game.
With their second straight win and third in four games, the Bears finally appear to be hitting their stride after a convincing 23-10 win over Jacksonville on Sunday. They'll try to make it three in a row – something they haven't done since the 2006 Super Bowl season – versus Green Bay a week from Monday.
Chicago native and Illinois product Pierre Thomas started the Saints' comeback with a 42-yard touchdown run that made it 21-14 with 3:44 left in the third. Josh Bullocks set up the score, intercepting an Orton pass when it deflected off wide receiver Rashied Davis.
Garrett Hartley kicked a 30-yard field goal with just over nine minutes left to set the stage for Brees' go-ahead pass to Colston.
Thomas finished with 87 yards rushing and 59 receiving.
Chicago got a scare early when Forte limped to the sideline with a toe injury after his first attempt – a run for no gain on the left side. He finished with 34 yards rushing and 29 receiving.
Orton was 24-of-40 for 172 yards and two interceptions.
The Saints got some good news before the game when a judge in Minnesota extended his injunction against the suspensions of Will Smith, Deuce McAllister and Charles Grant along with the Vikings' Kevin Williams and Pat Williams for violating the NFL's anti-doping policy.
Smith started at defensive end. McAllister was inactive and Grant (torn triceps) is on injured reserve.
But in the end, the Saints had another rough stay in Chicago – a place where they've experienced their share of frustration in recent years.
Last season, the Bears were already out of playoff contention when they beat New Orleans 33-25 in the final game, wiping out any chance the Saints had at the postseason.
Two years ago, the Bears scored the first 16 points and ran away with a 39-14 win after the Saints pulled within two, thanks to an assist from Reggie Bush. He pointed at Brian Urlacher and performed a celebratory flip as he crossed the goal line with an 88-yard touchdown catch, waking up Chicago's defense.
Bush, who missed last year's game with an injury, sprained a knee in the first half and did not play in the second even though he said he was fine.
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