Robbie Gould kicked a 38-yard field goal with 11:28 left in overtime, and the Chicago Bears overcame frigid conditions and the Green Bay Packers for a 20-17 victory Monday night to stay in the running for the playoffs.
"Our season was on the line. There was a timeout, so we had a little time to really get the guys one more time and say, ‘Hey, we really have to block this kick,"' Bears head coach Lovie Smith said. "And Alex Brown came through like he's come through many times in the five years I've been here. That's what the team needed."
The temperature at Soldier Field was announced at 2 degrees, making it the coldest home game in Bears' history since records started being kept in 1963. The wind chill was 13 below, the second lowest in recorded team annals, so the longtime rivals known for their ability to play in cold weather were tested by the elements.
Kyle Orton hit a 17-yard pass to Greg Olsen, and a 15-yard penalty on Green Bay's Aaron Rouse for a horse-collar tackle gave the Bears the ball at the Green Bay 35 in overtime. A third-down pass of 14 yards to Matt Forte got it to the Green Bay 20 to set up the winning kick – Gould's second straight game-winner in overtime.
"Just a crazy game. A hard-fought game. Everything was on the line for us, obviously," Orton said.
The Bears (9-6), who stayed in contention for the NFC North over the weekend when Atlanta beat Minnesota, won their third straight and rallied from a 14-3 halftime deficit to do it.
"We still have ourselves in position," Smith said.
Green Bay (5-10) dominated the first half but lost its fifth straight after routing the Bears 37-3 at Lambeau Field in mid-November.
Forte's 3-yard TD with 3:11 left lifted the Bears into a tie. The score came one play after Forte barely made a first down on a fourth-and-2 run.
The Packers ran down the clock behind the running of Ryan Grant, moving to the 20 and trying to set up a game-winner from Crosby, but Brown blocked the kick.
"It seemed to come off OK," Crosby said. "Everything had to be right, and I just didn't finish my end of the deal."
In the first half, Rogers had plenty of time to throw and completed 16 of 24 passes for 176 yards, throwing TD passes to Greg Jennings and Grant as Green Bay moved ahead 14-3.
Rodgers finished 24-of-39 for 260 yards.
The Bears, meanwhile, sputtered and were outgained 221-48 in the first two quarters, as their playoff hopes were on the verge of evaporating into the cold air.
"There was a lot of talk going on in the offensive huddle, ‘We've got to do it now.' We weren't playing good," Orton said. "We weren't running the ball. We weren't throwing the ball. We just weren't playing well at all. We just said, ‘This is our season. It's coming down to this. And if we don't do anything, we're done."'
Charles Woodson's sixth interception of the season and a return to the 30 helped the Packers move to the 5, but the Bears held and forced a 28-yard field goal from Crosby that put Green Bay up 17-10 early in the final quarter.
Forte, who had only 20 yards rushing through the first three quarters, broke off a 28-yard run to the Packers' 23 late in the final quarter. Forte had two more carries to give Chicago a first down at the 12. Two more runs by Forte and a pass to Devin Hester left the Bears with a fourth-and-2 from the Packers' 4 with just under four minutes left. Forte just got the first down, and the Bears were able to tie it.
Chicago got a break on its first possession of the third quarter when Brad Maynard's punt hit Green Bay's Jarrett Bush, who was blocking on the play, and the Bears' Jason Davis recovered at the 27. Three plays after a 21-yard pass to Desmond Clark, Orton hit Olsen on a 3-yard TD pass, making it 14-10.
Using some trickery, the Packers moved in for a 7-0 lead with 6:21 left in the second quarter.
The Packers faked a punt on a fourth-and-2 from the Bears' 37, snapping the ball to backup quarterback Matt Flynn, who carried 6 yards for the first down.
From there, Grant, who had 145 yards rushing against the Bears in an earlier meeting this season that the Packers dominated 37-3, carried four straight times for 24 yards to the 7. And on a third down, Rogers found Jennings with the TD pass that capped the 14-play, 91-yard drive.
But Danieal Manning got the Bears thawed out when he returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards, dragging Green Bay's Bush for about 20 yards to the Packers' 29. A 16-yard pass from Orton to Brandon Lloyd moved it to the 13, but the drive stalled after Orton was sacked and threw high to Hester. Gould's 31-yard field goal made it 7-3.
If the Bears win at Houston next Sunday and the Vikings lose at home to the Giants, Chicago captures the NFC North. Minnesota holds the tiebreaker over the Bears, so if both teams win on the final Sunday, the Vikings win the division.
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