The coldest home game in Chicago Bears history rightfully came against the Green Bay Packers.
CHICAGO — The coldest home game in Chicago Bears history rightfully came against the Green Bay Packers.
The Bears, still in contention for the playoffs, were being outplayed by a Packers team that had already been eliminated from the postseason a week earlier.
"I understand why we were getting booed. We hadn't really shown up at all, but you have to play two halves," Bears coach Lovie Smith said.
That's what the Bears did Monday night, turning the catcalls into cheers and what looked like a loss into a victory.
Alex Brown blocked a field goal near the end of regulation and Robbie Gould kicked the game-winner in overtime for a 20-17 victory that keeps the Bears in the running for the playoffs.
"We were saying on the sidelines that we have to block it. I got through pretty good, but I didn't really think that was going to happen. You just go as hard as you can and see if you can get a hand up and hopefully you can get it," said Brown, who blocked Mason Crosby's 38-yard attempt with 18 seconds left and the game tied at 17.
The Bears (9-6), who stayed in contention for the NFC North title over the weekend when Atlanta beat Minnesota, rallied from a 14-3 halftime deficit to win their third straight.
"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," quarterback Kyle Orton said.
But they're not. If the Bears win at Houston next Sunday and the Vikings lose at home to the Giants, Chicago will capture the division. Minnesota holds the tiebreaker over the Bears, so if both teams win on Sunday, the Vikings are in.
But Chicago is still alive for a wild-card berth, too.
Orton completed 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.
"You know it's going to be chilly, the ground is going to be hard. You've just got to go out there and do your job. There's no excuses for missing," Gould said.
The kickoff temperature at Soldier Field was 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.
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.
"It's disappointing. It's tough. It's frustrating," Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after completing 24 of 39 passes for 260 yards with two first-half TD passes that built the 14-3 lead.
Forte's 3-yard TD run with 3:11 left lifted the Bears into a tie. The score came one play after Forte made a first down on a fourth-and-2 run.
But on the ensuing kickoff, Green Bay's Will Blackmon returned a short kick 32 yards and a personal foul on Chicago's Adrian Peterson for tackling Blackmon out of bounds put the ball on the Bears 35.
Rodgers' third down pass of 9 yards to James Jones gave the Packers a first down at the Bears 24 with two minutes left.
The Packers handed off to Ryan Grant to run down the clock, moving to the 20 to set up Crosby's potential game-winner.
"I just didn't finish my end of the deal," Crosby said.
The Bears 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 before they regrouped.
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.
Notes: Forte set the Bears' rookie rushing record. He now has 1,188 yards, surpassing Anthony Thomas, who had 1,183 in 2001.