The Bears didn't have to do much to claw their way back into a first-place tie in the NFC North.
They only had to overcome an early 10-0 deficit, wait out a nearly two-hour weather delay, run the ball on one of the NFL' best run defenses, shut down the second-best sack duo in the NFL, mount a goalline stand late in the fourth quarter with a depleted defense and then persevere and prevail in overtime.
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They did all that in a 23-20 overtime victory over the Ravens at Soldier Field which was alternately balmy, sunny and rainy but most of all windy and muddy. Combined with the Lions' loss to the Steelers, the Bears and Detroit are both 6-4, while the Packers fell to 5-5. The Lions hold the tie-breaker over the Bears because they've already swept the season series, but no one in the winning locker rook was sweating the details.
"You never know from week to week in this league," said quarterback Josh McCown, who once again was brilliant filling in for injured Jay Cutler. "My dad always says, 'That thing is oblong and bounces funny.'"
McCown played practically error-free ball, completing 19 of 31 passes for 216 yards, 1 touchdown and zero interceptions for a 92.9 passer rating. In two starts (both Bears wins) and two relief appearances, McCown has not been intercepted while throwing 101 passes, and his passer rating is an even 100.0.
McCown was sacked twice but lost just 1 yard. Neither of the sacks were by Elvis Dumervil or Terrell Suggs, who came in with 17 between them but were rendered irrelevant by an offensive line that may have played its best game as a group.
"When you've got two Pro Bowl players -- maybe future Hall of Famers -- coming off the edge, you have to make sure you're hitting on all cylinders, and we were," said left tackle Jermon Bushrod. "The good thing is we ran the ball (26 times for 104 yards). We were balanced and we tried to keep them guessing as much as we could."
The Ravens grabbed a 10-0 lead with 4:51 left in the first quarter before the rain set in with the Bears having managed 19 yards of offense on 8 plays.
"I needed that," wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. "I felt a disconnect in our huddle. Everybody else felt the same. We needed that. We benefited from that. We got on the same page."
After the 1-hour, 53-minute delay, the Bears outscored Baltimore 23-10.
Robbie Gould hit all 3 of his field-goal attempts, including a 38-yarder with 8:41 left in overtime, after his 46-yarder at the end of the first half brought the Bears within 17-13.
"It never gets old," Gould said after his 11th career game-winning kick, 6 of which have come in overtime. "Winning never gets old."
The winning kick was set up by McCown's 43-yard completion to tight end Martellus Bennett over the Raven's Ladarius Webb. It was McCown's longest completion of the season and just Bennett's second catch of the day.
"I was just regular ... me and Josh, it's something that we do all the time in practice," Bennett said. "I wanted to get the ball the whole game, and then at a big moment they call a play for me, so I just have to try to make a play."
Actually, Brandon Marshall was the primary receiver on that play, but Bennett was the right read.
"We just wanted to take a shot with any of our big receivers," McCown said. "We were able to get the safety to move toward Brandon and then get back to Marty. You never know whose turn it's going to be."
Matt Forte also came through when it was his turn. One week after one of his worst games as a pro, Forte gashed the NFL's No. 5 run defense for 83 yards on 18 carries (4.6-yard average). He added 42 more yards on 5 receptions, including a 14-yard TD on a screen pass when he broke three tackles on his way to the end zone to give the Bears a 20-17 lead with 10:33 remaining.
But, driving into a difficult wind, the Ravens went 81 yards and had first-and-goal at the 5-yard line before they had to settle for Justin Ticker's 21-yard field goal that tied the game 20-20 with three seconds left and forced overtime.
Before the inclement weather arrived, it appeared the 4-6 Ravens would blow the Bears out of Soldier Field even before the 35-mile-an-hour winds arrived.
The Ravens came in as the worst rushing offense in the NFL. But on their second play from scrimmage, Ray Rice, who was averaging an NFL-worst 2.5 yards per carry, went 47 yards to the Bears' 10-yard line to set up his 1-yard TD run, which gave the visitors a 7-0 lead just 5:02 into the game. On Rice's previous 115 carries this season, his longest run was 14 yards, and on their first 236 carries this season, the Ravens' longest run was 28 yards.
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