In a game defined both by the weather and the skill of the participants in the conditions, the Bears grinded to a 23-20 overtime victory against the Ravens on Sunday in Chicago.
The win moves the Bears (6-4) into a first-place tie with the Lions in the NFC North. However, the Lions have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bears, as Detroit swept the season series with Chicago.
The Ravens, the defending Super Bowl champions, fell to 4-6. They are 2.5 games behind Cincinnati in the AFC North.
A major storm system that spawned heavy rains and winds and even some tornadic activity caused a one-hour, 53-minute weather delay at Chicago’s Soldier Field. When the game resumed around 3:30 p.m. Eastern, the turf was water-laden, and by game’s end, it was a muddy mess.
The wind especially became a factor in the second half, with both teams playing it close to the vest in the third quarter. However, in the fourth quarter, both offenses did some impressive work, given the conditions.
First, the Bears, who trailed 17-13 at the start of the fourth, put together an 11-play, 83-yard drive ending in a 14-yard Matt Forte TD reception. This gave Chicago a 20-17 lead, one it held until the final moments of regulation, when Justin Tucker hit a 21-yard field goal to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Tucker’s kick capped a 15-play, 81-yard drive kept alive was an impressive one-handed catch by Ravens tight end Dallas Clark, whose 14-yard gain on fourth down moved Baltimore to the Chicago 30 with around three minutes left. The Ravens would continue their march deep into Chicago territory, but the Ravens could not score a touchdown in three snaps from the Chicago 5-yard-line and inward, and they had to settle for the field goal.
The Ravens got the ball first in overtime but were forced to punt. And from there, the Bears, led by quarterback Josh McCown, would embark on the game-deciding drive. On consecutive plays McCown hit wideout Alshon Jeffery for 14 yards, then connected with tight end Martellus Bennett on a 43-yard strike, which put Chicago at the Baltimore 22.
Two plays later, placekicker Robbie Gould hit a 38-yard field goal, guiding it just inside the right upright.
For the Bears, the victory was another shining moment for McCown, who has ably replaced the injured Jay Cutler. McCown completed 19-of-31 passes for 216 yards and did not commit a turnover. By contrast, counterpart Joe Flacco threw a pair of picks, which the Bears turned into 10 first-half points.
In defeat, the Ravens got a big effort from running back Ray Rice, who rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.