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updated: 12/12/2011 11:15 AM

Stuff happens ... but Barber's gaffe hard to stomach

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  • Running back Marion Barber and the Bears saw the game against the Broncos on Sunday flip completely upside down in a hurry Sunday in Denver.

      Running back Marion Barber and the Bears saw the game against the Broncos on Sunday flip completely upside down in a hurry Sunday in Denver.
    Associated Press/The Denver Post, Joe Amon

  • Broncos cornerback Andre' Goodman trips up Bears running back Marion Barber int the first quarter Sunday in Denver.

      Broncos cornerback Andre' Goodman trips up Bears running back Marion Barber int the first quarter Sunday in Denver.
    Associated Press/The Denver Post, Tim Rasmussen

 
By Gene Chamberlain
Special to the Daily Herald

DENVER -- Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow often gives praise to God after games.

But he but admitted Sunday that he might have done it during the game for a gift his team received from Bears running back Marion Barber.

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Barber first gave Denver a chance to tie by running out of bounds to kill the clock, and then not only prevented a Bears victory with a lost overtime fumble -- he gave the Broncos the ball and a chance to drive for a 13-10 overtime victory.

Barber's inability to stay in bounds on the first play after the two-minute warning when he ran off left tackle meant the Broncos had 53 seconds left for their game-tying drive.

"I might have thanked the Lord when he did that," Tebow said. "He obviously, probably shouldn't do that, and that kept us in it. I mean, we probably would have had 10 seconds left if he stayed in bounds."

Barber took a handoff and went off left tackle for 5 yards, but he kept right on charging until he was tackled out of bounds.

The next play Barber ran again for a yard, forcing the Bears to punt. They managed to kill off 49 seconds between the 1-yard run and the punt, so it's not inconceivable that the Broncos could have taken the ball with 10 seconds left -- as Tebow said -- if Barber had gone out of bounds.

Barber, who ran for 108 yards on 27 rushes, makes it a regular practice of not talking to the media. So Matt Forte's replacement left it to teammates to explain why he went out of bounds.

"I think as a running back in that kind of situation, we know that one first down will seal the game," the Bears' Kahlil Bell said. "So I feel like he was trying to get the first down and I think that was his mindset -- get the first down and win the game."

Bears coach Lovie Smith couldn't defend Barber much afterward.

"We all know what type of player Marion is," Smith said. "All running backs are trying to get a couple more yards here and there, but we have to know the situation. In that situation we have to be able to keep the ball in bounds.

"He'll tell you that, I know we'd all like to have that one back."

In overtime, Barber seemed to redeem himself with a spectacular diving catch for 16 yards that moved the Bears to the edge of field-goal range at the Broncos' 41.

But, after he broke off left tackle on third-and-7 for what looked like a gain that would set up a game-winning field-goal try, Broncos weak side linebacker Wesley Woodyard stripped the ball from Barber and Elvis Dumervil recoevered at the Denver 33.

The Broncos then drove for the winning field goal.

Teammates who know Forte isn't likely to return next week were quick to lend support to Barber, who scored the Bears' only TD on a 9-yard run in the third quarter.

"Marion Barber is a heck of a football player," linebacker Lance Briggs said. "And Marion Barber is going to help us to get into the playoffs.

"He made two great plays today. Things happen. They happen to all of us. I'm proud of the guy. If he just keeps his head up he's going to help the Bears win."

Bell had a few words after the game with his teammate.

"I just told him to let it go," Bell said. "We have a saying in our running back room: LIG. Just let it go, move to the next play.

"He's been in this league a long time so I'm sure he'll bounce back stronger."

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