Final

Bears 27

(7-2, 3-1 away)

Buccaneers 24

(4-5, 2-2 home)

Coverage: FOX

4:15 PM ET, November 18, 2001

 

1 2 3 4 T
CHI 0 7 17 327
TB 3 6 0 1524

Bears hold on as Gramatica's kick misses off goalpost

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Call them lucky if you dare. Just don't forget to say the Chicago Bears also are in first place.

Bears receiver Marty Booker had seven catches for 165 yards and three TDs (and told Tampa fans all about it).

"I don't feel like we're a charmed team in the least," coach Dick Jauron said Sunday after another thrilling finish left his team alone atop the NFC Central standings. "Our guys work awful hard. That's why we're 7-2."

Jim Miller threw three touchdown passes to Marty Booker and the Bears held on to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-24 when Martin Gramatica's 48-yard field goal bounced off the right upright as time expired.

The Bears have won twice in overtime this season after wiping out double-digit deficits in the closing minutes of regulation. This time, they nearly let an 11-point lead slip away in the final seven minutes.

Tampa Bay pulled within three when Brad Johnson scored on a quarterback sneak and tossed a 2-point conversion pass to Mike Alstott with 2:29 to go.

What got into the Bears' passing game today?
The Bears realized they couldn't run the ball effectively against the Bucs and saw they could take advantage of some things deep -- and they did just that.

Chicago took what the defense gave them, which was the deep pass. Quarterback Jim Miller and wide receiver Marty Booker did a tremendous job. They adjusted to what the Bucs' D gave them, took advantage of it and made some big plays.

ESPN.com's Vinny Cerrato was director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.

Johnson, who completed 40 of 56 passes for 399 yards, threw an interception following a Chicago punt, then got one more chance when the Bears were unable to run out the clock.

"I was going to take a knee four times and turn the game over to our defense. I felt good doing that," Jauron said. "It was awfully close, but it worked out."

Warrick Dunn got out of bounds on two receptions as Tampa Bay (4-5) moved into Bears territory. A 15-yard personal foul penalty against Chicago's R.W. McQuarters pushed the Bucs into field goal range.

Gramatica came on with 6 seconds remaining, but missed.

"There's nothing worse for a kicker than your whole team depending on you, and you just don't come through for them," Gramatica said.

"There's no excuse. I just didn't make the field goal. ... It was going straight at the upright. I was just hoping it would drift a little bit."

The victory, coupled with Green Bay's 23-20 loss to Atlanta, gave the Bears sole possession of first place with their best record after nine games since 1991.

It was the fourth straight game that Chicago's fate wasn't determined until the final minute.

The Bears beat San Francisco and Cleveland after improbable comebacks forced those games into overtime. They saw a six-game winning streak end last week when a potential game-tying drive fell 15 yards short of the end zone against Green Bay.

"It's a tremendous feeling to have a win like this after a demoralizing loss," Miller said. "Hopefully, we'll get a little of that swagger back."

Booker caught seven passes for 165 yards, scoring on receptions of 28, 44 and 66 yards. Paul Edinger kicked second-half field goals of 26 and 40 yards, the latter putting the Bears up 27-16 after the Bucs turned the ball over on downs at their 30.

Miller completed 14 of 25 passes for 228 yards. He was sacked three times, and his only interception didn't hurt the Bears because Dunn fumbled two plays later at the Chicago 25.

The Bucs outgained the Bears 234-101 in the first half, but led only 9-7 because of an inability to finish drives. Four trips inside Chicago's 20 produced three field goals by Gramatica, from 25, 38 and 26 yards.

Chicago had gone 19 quarters without an offensive touchdown against Tampa Bay when Miller threw his 28-yard scoring pass to Booker midway through the second quarter.

The offense had last reached the end zone against the Bucs during the second quarter of a 31-17 loss on Nov. 29, 1998.

Miller found Booker racing up the left sideline ahead of cornerback Ronde Barber for Chicago's next score. Barber stopped running for an instant, enabling the receiver to get wide open on the 44-yard play.

Booker's 66-yard TD and Edinger's first field goal, set up by Alstott's fumble at the Tampa Bay 41, increased the Bears' lead to 24-9.

"They're living right, I guess," said Bucs safety John Lynch. "But truth be told, they're just playing good football. They're a team who never thinks they're out of a game."

Tampa Bay began its comeback when Alstott scored on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter.

Keyshawn Johnson finished with a career-high 12 receptions for 89 yards for Tampa Bay. Dunn had 12 catches for 138 yards.

Game notes
Chicago won in Tampa for the first time since 1995. The Bears have won two straight in the series after dropping six in a row ... Bucs punt returner Karl Williams left the game with a right hip injury in the second quarter and did not return ... The Bears limited the Bucs to 19 yards rushing on 15 attempts.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ESPNChicago.com 

Scoring Summary

THIRD QUARTERCHITB
chiTD9:34Touchdown
Drive info: 1 plays, 66 yds, 0:00
209
chi9:23
Drive info: 1 plays, 66 yds, 0:00
219
chiTD11:10Touchdown
Drive info: 4 plays, 55 yds, 1:57
139
FOURTH QUARTERCHITB
chiFG8:15Paul Edinger 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, 9 yds, 0:42
2716
THIRD QUARTERCHITB
chi11:10
Drive info: 4 plays, 55 yds, 1:57
149
SECOND QUARTERCHITB
tbFG14:30Martin Gramatica 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 5 plays, 22 yds, 11:47
06
chiTD8:41Touchdown
Drive info: 5 plays, 67 yds, 2:20
66
chi8:41
Drive info: 5 plays, 67 yds, 2:20
76
THIRD QUARTERCHITB
chiFG4:05Paul Edinger 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 32 yds, 5:05
249
FOURTH QUARTERCHITB
tbTD3:23Brad Johnson, 1 yd run(Brad Johnson pass to Mike Alstott for 2pt conversion)
Drive info: 12 plays, 77 yds, 3:25
2724
SECOND QUARTERCHITB
tbFG0:33Martin Gramatica 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 84 yds, 2:24
79
FOURTH QUARTERCHITB
tbTD12:29Mike Alstott, 1 yd run
Drive info: 10 plays, 78 yds, 13:41
2415
tb12:25
Drive info: 10 plays, 78 yds, 13:41
2416
FIRST QUARTERCHITB
tbFG2:34Martin Gramatica 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 16 plays, 81 yds, 7:36
03