Bears Rally to Win

The Bears 11th victory of the year didn't come easy, but when it comes to this team it rarely does. Chicago needed a fourth quarter comeback to beat the Redskins 20-15. It is the fifth time this season the team has trailed starting the final period and came back to win.

Trailing 13-10 entering the fourth quarter the Bears used a fake field goal to take the lead and the defense held off a Washington drive in closing minutes to ensure their spot atop of the Central Division.

The game started on a down note as Autry Denson fumbled the opening kickoff, which Washington recovered at the Bears 33. However, the Bears defense quickly turned the ball back over to the offense. On 3rd and 6 Rosevelt Colvin sacked Tony Banks forcing a fumble that Phillip Daniels recovered.

The Bears offense took the field with Jim Miller throwing to Marty Booker for a 13-yard catch. Two plays later a 13-yard run by Anthony Thomas brought Chicago to the Washington 29. Booker then dropped a ball on 3rd and 5 that would have given the Bears a first down inside the red zone. Paul Edinger kicked a 39-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead capping an 8-play 45-yard drive.

The defense had the Redskins in a third and 9 situation, but backup running Ki-Jana Carter gained 10 yards on a toss play. The run seemed to breathe life into the Redskins offense. Stephen Davis touched the ball six consecutive times including a three-yard run up the gut that gave Washington the 7-3 lead. The 58-yard drive took 5:49 off the clock on 12 plays.

The Bears looked to rebound with a 12-yard catch by Booker, but the drive sputters just short of midfield. Brad Maynard's 50-yard punt pinned the Redskins inside their 10-yard line and a Washington holding penalty brought the ball to the 3-yard line.

Chicago's defense forced a three and out giving the offense the ball inside Washington territory (46). Miller converted a third down and five by completing a 15-yard pass to Booker. On the first play of the second quarter Chicago took a 10-7 advantage thanks to Leon Johnson, who took a right toss and cut it back across the field running in for a 32 yard touchdown run.

``That was just straight-up running,'' Johnson said. ``I just read my blocks. I guess it was just good feel on my part to feel my linemen and then know when to cut it back up to the end zone.''

The defense couldn't hang on to the lead. Washington, who dominated the time of possession throughout the game, put together another 12 play drive. The Redskins moved the ball methodically down the field taking over seven minutes to the tie the game at ten apiece. A fourth and five conversion eventually gave way to a Brett Conway 35-yard field goal.

After trading punts the Bears took over the ball inside their 20 with 1:47 left in the half. After an eight-yard run on first down by James Allen two incomplete passes stopped the clock with 1:12.

In the first half Washington held the ball for 19:10 to Chicago's 10:50. Anthony Thomas carried the ball seven times, while Stephen Davis had 14 rushing attempts.

Taking over on their 46 Washington had a chance to go into the locker room with the lead, but Marty Schottenheimer elected to go for a first down on 4th and 3 from the Bears 34 instead of attempting a 51 yard field goal. Tony Banks' pass fell incomplete and the game was tied 10-10 at the half.

Washington opened the second half with the ball. The Redskins looked to have their second first down of the drive, but an illegal hands penalty on Ben Coleman brought back a four-yard run by Davis. The Bears defense stopped Washington from advancing the ball and a 26 yard Bryan Barker punt gave Chicago their best field position of the day.

Starting at the Redskins 40 the offense couldn't move the ball and were forced into a three and out. A rare mistake by Brad Maynard, who kicked the ball into the endzone for his 6th touchback of the year, left Washington at their 20-yard line.

For the third time in the game the Redskins went on a 12-play drive. Banks moved the ball in chunks finding Michael Westbrook for a 22-yard gain. Then on third and eight Banks connected with his tight end Zeron Flemister for a 34-yard completion over the middle. Washington's biggest offensive play of the day brought the ball to Chicago's 22-yard line. Another third down conversion, this time to Rod Gardner, gave the Redskins first and goal at the eight. The defense bent but did not break. Allowing a 26-yard field goal by Conway, which gave Washington a 13-10 lead with 4:54 left in the third quarter.

Chicago's offense had their third consecutive three and out a 38 yard punt by Maynard gave Washington the ball just shy of midfield. The defense, which had been on the field the majority of the game, changed the complexion of the game. Back to back sacks of Tony Banks by Rosevelt Colvin and Phillip Daniels sparked the Bears.

Chicago took over with 2:06 left in the 3rd quarter and held the ball for 7:11. After a Miller pass fell incomplete on 3rd and 5 it looked like the Bears would have to punt again, but a holding penalty on Champ Bailey extended the drive. As the drive moved into the fourth quarter Daimon Shelton came up inches short of a first down. Dick Jauron decided to go for the first down from the Bears 40. Miller followed Olin Kreutz for the necessary yardage.

``We've been bad for so long we might as well go for it,'' Miller said. ``We're already in the playoffs, but we've got to play for home-field advantage.

``You've got to hand it to Dick. He's making the tough decisions when they need to be made and that's your head coach. That was a great decision.''

On the previous five possessions the offense totaled 23 yards, but thanks to a little trickery the Bears took the lead. Eventually Paul Edinger came on to attempt a 46 yard field goal to tie the game, but Brad Maynard took the snap and rolled out of the pocket finding a wide open Brian Urlacher for a 27 yard touchdown. The score put the Bears up for good with 9:55 left in the contest.

``I went in motion and everyone stood up,'' Urlacher said of the Redskins' field goal block team. ``I was like `oh, man, they're going to get this one. But no one covered me. I think they were going for the kickers on that option and Brad made a great throw.''

The Bears defense continued to take control of the game forcing Tony Banks into three consecutive incompletes. Then on the following drive Keith Traylor and Mike Green sacked Banks, which gave the Bears defense six sacks in the game, giving Chicago the ball back with 5:43 left. A 22-yard punt return by Leon Johnson gave the offense the ball at the Redskins 41.

A 16-yard run by Thomas gave Edinger a field goal opportunity. The second year placekicker connected from 37 yards out giving the Bears a 20-13 lead with 3:23 left in the game.

Washington took over on their 37 with all three timeouts remaining. Banks completed passes of 11, 16 and 11 in moving the Redskins to the Bears 18 before the two-minute warning. Mike Green was flagged for pass interference giving the home team a first down at the 12. The following play Rod Gardner caught a nine yard pass, which brought the ball to the 3 yard line, but instead of accepting a holding penalty that would have given them a first down the Redskins took the result of the play. Stephen Davis was stopped for a one-yard loss on second down. Schottenheimer failed to back the NFC's rushing leader in a goal line situation.

``Down on the goal line, when those big guys come in (the Bears' Ted Washington, Keith Traylor, Carl Powell), you know it's going to be difficult to get those 3 yards down there,'' Mike Brown said. ``Throughout the game we tightened up the run a little bit.

``So it was no surprise to us they didn't go back to the run.''

On third down an incomplete pass by Banks stopped the clock with 1:30 left. Instead of going for the first down Banks went to the end zone, but misfired to an open Gardner turning the ball over on downs.

With 1:25 left the Bears couldn't take a knee because Washington still had two timeouts left. After three rushes by the "A-Train" there were only 27 seconds left on the game clock. Instead of punting the ball Brad Maynard took the snap from Patrick Mannelly and ran out of the back of the end zone for a safety, which brought the score to 20-15 with 20 seconds remaining.

On the ensuing free kick Bears linebacker Bobbie Howard knocked the ball loose from Washington return man Eric Metcalf. Mike Green recovered clinching the Bears fifth road win of the season.


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