The Bears appeared to be on the brink of falling to 0-4 after losing a late lead Sunday at a deflated Soldier Field, but they refused to let it happen.
After Sebastian Janikowski's 41-yard field goal gave the Raiders a 20-19 edge with 2:05 to play, Jay Cutler made amends for a costly interception by engineering a clutch two-minute drive capped by Robbie Gould's game-winning 49-yard field goal with :02 remaining.
The kick enabled the Bears (1-3) to record their first win under coach John Fox and snap a franchise record-tying eight-game losing streak dating back to last season. It also capped a seesaw game that featured six lead changes, including three in the final 13:01.
"Any time you work as hard as all those guys work—coaches, players, staff members—obviously it's a lot more gratifying when you win, and that was our first opportunity," Fox said.
"I was really, really happy to see smiles in [the locker room]. And I'm really happy for our fans because we haven't exactly lit it up here in our first two home games."
Cutler returned after missing just one week with a hamstring injury that most outsiders expected to sideline him for a minimum of two games. He completed 28 of 43 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and an 89.4 passer rating.
In the previous six-plus quarters that Cutler missed due to the injury against the Cardinals and Seahawks, the Bears did not score a touchdown on 19 possessions.
"Jay is a tough son-of-a-bug," Fox said. "He fought an injury. Some lesser guys may not have been out there, but he was. I thought all-in-all, he played outstanding and well enough for us to win. My hat's off to his toughness, battling through that game."
With the Bears looking to extend a 19-17 lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the game, Cutler's underthrown pass intended for Martellus Bennett on third-and-1 from the Oakland 23 was intercepted by veteran Charles Woodson.
After the Raiders converted the takeaway into Janikowski's go-ahead field goal, Cutler marched the Bears from their own 20 to the Oakland 32 to set up Gould's winning kick. Cutler completed 5 of 8 passes for 41 yards to four different receivers on the drive.
Cutler said that "pass protection" was the key to the final drive and praised an offensive line that lost center Will Montgomery on the third play of the game with a broken fibula. Matt Slauson moved from left guard to center and Patrick Omameh entered at left guard. Charles Leno Jr. Jr. was already starting at left tackle in place of the injured Jermon Bushrod (concussion).
Gould's final field goal was his third of the game without a miss and came after he had drilled a 54-yarder to give the Bears a 19-17 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Bears led 16-14 at halftime, but the margin could have been larger. Gould's first extra-point attempt was blocked and they had to settle for Gould's 19-yard field goal late in the first half after Kyle Long was stopped for no gain on third-and-goal from the 1.
After Cutler's 7-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Royal on the game's opening possession gave the Bears a 6-0 lead, the Raiders scored two TDs in just under four minutes to take a 14-6 lead midway through the second quarter.
Derek Carr threw touchdown passes of 26 yards to receiver Amari Cooper and 4 yards to running back Roy Helu Jr., the second coming after the Raiders recovered a botched snap between Cutler and Slauson at the Chicago 25.
The Bears responded with 10 points in a 2:04 span late in the first half as Cutler hit a wide open Bennett with a 5-yard TD pass and Pernell McPhee intercepted a Carr pass that caromed off running back Latavius Murray, setting up Gould's field goal. It was McPhee's first career interception.
The Bears erased deficits of 14-6, 17-16 and 20-19 Sunday in winning their first game since a 21-13 victory over the Buccaneers last Nov. 23 at Soldier Field.
"Those are the type of wins that you want to see," Gould said. "And usually those type of wins catapult a team and give them a lot of confidence for the next week."