What had to be the longest game in Bears history no doubt will also go down as one of the most memorable, thanks to a long weather delay and a pulsating overtime victory.
Robbie Gould ended this 5 hour 16 minute Chicago marathon Sunday with a 38-yard field goal midway through the extra session, giving the Bears a thrilling 23-20 win over the Ravens at stormy Soldier Field.
The game was delayed for 1 hour 53 minutes due to inclement weather with 4:51 remaining in the first quarter. With tornado warnings in the area coupled with sheets of rain and wind gusts up to 46 miles per hour, the 56,419 fans on hand were required to evacuate the seating area.
The Ravens led 10-0 at the time after scoring on their first two possessions, on Ray Rice's 1-yard touchdown run and Justin Tucker's 52-yard field goal on the last play before the delay.
Although they were dominated early, the Bears tied the score after play resumed with 10 points in a :12 span midway through the second quarter. After Gould's 20-yard field goal, defensive end David Bass leaped high to intercept a Joe Flacco pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown.
After the Ravens took a 17-10 lead on Flacco's 5-yard TD pass to Torrey Smith, rookie linebacker Jon Bostic intercepted Flacco, setting up Gould's 46-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
The Bears eventually took a 20-17 lead as Matt Forte turned a screen pass from Josh McCown into a 14-yard TD early in the fourth quarter. But Tucker forced overtime with a 21-yard field goal with :03 left in regulation, capping a 15-play, 81-yard drive.
The Ravens won the overtime coin toss, but were forced to punt after reaching the Chicago 46. After the Bears took over at their own 20, McCown completed passes on back-to-back plays to Alshon Jeffery for 14 yards on third-and-nine and Martellus Bennett for 43 yards to the Baltimore 22, setting up Gould's game-winning field goal.
"We were able to finally make the plays when the plays were needed to be made," said coach Marc Trestman. "We did that. We did it with a stop by our defense in overtime and then certainly the plays that were made to move the football into scoring position."
With the victory, the Bears (6-4) grabbed a share of first place in the NFC North with the Lions (6-4), who lost to the Steelers 37-27 in Pittsburgh. The Packers (5-5) are one game back after losing on the road to the New York Giants 27-13.
"It's always a race in the National Football League," said receiver Brandon Marshall. "It's always going to come down to the last few weeks, the last few plays, the last few seconds. We know that. It's also good to win when the Lions lose."
Even after play resumed following the weather delay, most of the rest of Sunday's game featured steady rain and strong winds. That, coupled with a muddy field, limited both offenses. But despite the sloppy conditions, the Bears did not commit any turnovers.
"Just a terrific job by Josh and our entire team, our guys taking care of the football," Trestman said. "We talked about it just before we went out. The team that took care of the football on a difficult day, the team that was able to create a turnover or two would be in it in the fourth quarter and have a chance to win it, and we did."
McCown performed well for the fourth straight game in place of the injured Jay Cutler, completing 19 of 31 passes for 216 yards with one touchdown and a 92.9 passer rating. In the second half and overtime, the 34-year-old connected on 9 of 11 passes for 132 yards and one TD.
Even though they protected the ball, the Bears didn't exactly play an error-free game. They committed a season-high 13 penalties for 111 yards. Filling in for the injured Charles Tillman at cornerback, Zack Bowman drew five flags on defense and special teams, including a critical 15-yarder for a horse collar tackle that sustained the Ravens' late game-tying drive.
But the Bears were able to overcome those mistakes and record a critical victory.
"It's an awesome win," Gould said. "This is great. To get to 6-4 and be at the top of our division is pretty big at this point. You spend the first couple months trying to get in the race and now you're trying to finish the race. Guys did a great job handling the delay to the field conditions. It was just a great team win."