Late FG Lifts Bears Over Oilers

Now it's the Chicago Bears who are forcing turnovers and winning the close games.
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  • Jeff Jaeger kicked a game-winning field goal for the second consecutive week, a 33-yarder with 1:03 left that lifted the Bears over the Tennessee Oilers 23-20 Sunday.

    The Bears (3-5), who have turned the ball over more than any other NFL team this season, forced four turnovers and converted those into 17 points against the Oilers (3-4).

    "Finally, we weren't the ones making all the mistakes," Bears quarterback Erik Kramer said.

    The Oilers had a final chance to send the game into overtime when they moved to the Chicago 38 in the final minute. But Chicago sacked Steve McNair and forced him to spike the ball.

    McNair found Willie Davis on the sideline for a 13-yard gain to the 32, leaving the Oilers with 21 seconds, no timeouts and facing fourth-and-3.

    Confusion then reigned.

    Al Del Greco, thinking the Oilers had a first down, did not immediately go on the field, forcing holder Craig Hentrich to try the 49-yard field goal with Dave Krieg as the holder. Hentrich's kick went into the line, and the Oilers also were penalized for 12 men on the field as Del Greco first tried to run on the field, then was late getting off.

    Chicago's Chris Penn coughs up the ball as he is hit by the Oilers' Darryll Lewis. The Oilers recovered the fumble. (AP)

    Hentrich, who hadn't kicked a field goal since 1995 when he was with the Green Bay Packers, said taking a delay of game penalty could have helped since he could kick up to 63 yards.

    Coach Jeff Fisher, who saw his Oilers drop to 1-3 in their temporary home, took the blame for the indecision.

    "I've never experienced one like this. To be in position and not to execute, it's something we talk about every week. We talked about it in training camp, and obviously we didn't get it done," he said.

    Del Greco apologized for his part in the botched play.

    "I heard them yelling for Dave to get in there, so I started running over," Del Greco said. "I tried to run on the field, but I saw Craig was on there to kick it, so I tried to run off ... I should have known better."

    The Bears, who won 13-12 over Dallas last week, have won back-to-back games for only the fourth time in the past three seasons.

    "Winning one on the road, winning two games in a row is a huge lift for us because that hasn't happened around here in a while," Kramer said.

    But it didn't come without the late drama that the Bears have become accustomed to this season. They lost three games by a total of nine points.

    They led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter on two field goals by Jaeger of 39 and 26 yards. Chicago had a chance to pad its lead to 23-13 with 6:49 left, but officials ruled Jaeger's 34-yard field goal attempt missed just left.

    The Oilers didn't waste the opportunity.

    They gave the ball to Eddie George five times, and he picked up 49 yards, moving Tennessee to the Chicago 15. Two plays later, Rodney Thomas ran into the middle and bounced around to the left and ran over Bears cornerback Walt Harris for a 7-yard TD run with 3:44 left that tied the game at 20.

    George finished with a season-high 137 yards on 21 carries.

    The Bears started sluggishly as Kramer missed on five of his first six passes, but the team with 22 turnovers coming into the game finally got moving.

    John Thierry stripped the ball from Oilers receiver Chris Sanders on a reverse, giving the Bears the ball at the Tennessee 1 on the Oilers' opening possession.

    "I think it set (the tone) early because that goes to show we're attacking and trying to get upfield and make them play us," said Bears linebacker Barry Minter, who recovered the fumble.

    Robert Chancey scored a play later for a 7-0 lead. The Bears also recovered another fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half at the Oilers 24, and Ty Hallock scored untouched up the middle on a 6-yard run for a 17-10 lead.

    When the ears got the ball back, they used Edgar Bennett (12 carries for 45 yards) and Curtis Enis (21 for 85) to control the clock for 33 minutes.


  • The Bears came into the game 0-3 on the road this season and had lost both times they played AFC teams until Sunday.
  • The victory tied the series between the teams at 4-4.
  • Oilers receiver Derrick Mason's 13-yard TD catch in the second quarter was the first of his NFL career.
  • George moved into fifth on the Oilers' career rushing list, passing Charles Tolar (1960-1966).

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