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Bears Find Safety Net in Time Against Titans

From Associated Press

Chicago defensive ends Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye laughed, arguing at their lockers, trying to figure out who deserved credit for the final play.

The way this Chicago defense is playing, there’s more than enough to go around.

Brown sacked Billy Volek in the end zone and knocked the ball loose, and Tennessee tackle Fred Miller recovered but was tackled by Ogunleye for a safety to give the Bears a 19-17 overtime win Sunday over the Titans.

It was the second time an NFL overtime game ended on a safety. The first was Nov. 5, 1989, when Minnesota beat the Los Angeles Rams, 23-21.

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Brown said the important statistic was the victory.

“The least we wanted to do was keep them down there, make them punt out of there, get a first down or two and kick a field goal. So we did our best, and we got some points out of it and won the game,” Brown said.

The victory gave the Bears (4-5) their first three-game winning streak since the end of the 2001 season -- Chicago’s last playoff appearance -- and kept them alive in the NFC North race.

Tennessee (3-6) gave Steve McNair another week to rest his bruised and aching chest and Volek made the fourth start of his career. It turned into a sloppy, ugly game that featured 20 punts.

“I don’t even know where to start since there were so many unusual things that happened,” said Titan Coach Jeff Fisher, now 0-3 against the team he played for in the 1980s. “I never would have thought we would lose the game in overtime on a sack for a safety.”

The Titans came up with five sacks and forced three turnovers while holding Chicago to 176 yards in offense, including 38 in the first half. But Tennessee made some costly mistakes, including an interception returned for a touchdown and two fumbles by Chris Brown.

Bear rookie quarterback Craig Krenzel did little until the final drive of regulation, when he was four for seven for 65 yards to set up Paul Edinger’s 29-yard field goal to tie the game at 17-17.

Chicago Coach Lovie Smith defended his offense.

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“They did enough. We scored more than they did. When they had to come through at the end, they did. It’s kind of simple as that,” Smith said.

The Titans tried to win in regulation, but punter Craig Hentrich, who tries all field goals over 50 yards, had a 52-yard attempt blocked as time expired.

The Bears won the toss to start overtime and couldn’t do anything with the ball. Punter Brad Maynard pinned Tennessee at its nine with a 43-yard punt, his 11th of the game.

Volek had thrown for two touchdowns and a career-high 334 yards. But his first pass in overtime was incomplete, and Bear linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer sacked him on second-and-10 for a four-yard loss.

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On third-and-14, Volek dropped into the end zone and Brown hit him and forced the decisive fumble.

“Our defense is playing as well, if not better, than any defense in the league right now,” Krenzel said. “They came through for us big today. Offensively, we came nowhere near to holding up our end.”


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