Bears 19, Titans 17, OT

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—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 over the Titans on Sunday.

It was only the second time an NFL game ended in overtime on a safety. The first was Nov. 5, 1989, when Minnesota beat the Los Angeles Rams 23-21 when Mike Merriweather blocked Dale Hatcher’s punt and the ball rolled out of the end zone.

Brown said the important stat 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, giving Volek 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 Titans 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 total offense, including just 38 in the first half. But Tennessee made some costly mistakes, including an interception returned for a touchdown and two fumbles by Chris Brown.

The loss left the Titans questioning what else they could have done on defense.

Cornerback Samari Rolle said the Bears’ offense only gave its defense a breather by running on the field, and linebacker Keith Bulluck said he was left shaking his head, trying to figure out what happened.

“I’m dumbfounded,” Bulluck said. “We gave up three points, and we’re on the losing end of it.”

Bears rookie quarterback Craig Krenzel did little until the final drive of regulation, when he was 4-of-7 for 65 yards to set up Paul Edinger’s 29-yard field goal to tie the game at 17.

Chicago coach Lovie Smith defended his offense and pointed out how Krenzel played at the end.

“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 own 9 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 Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer sacked him on second-and-10 for a 4-yard loss.

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.”

Chicago built a 14-7 lead off defense and special teams.

Michael Haynes intercepted Volek’s pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown just before halftime, and R.W. McQuarters added a 75-yard punt return for a TD in the third. McQuarters nearly gave Chicago a 21-7 lead on the next punt, but his 85-yard return was wiped out by an illegal block.

Krenzel finished 10-of-28 for 116 yards, while Anthony Thomas ran 29 times for 72 yards for the Bears.

Notes

Krenzel finished with a 19.3 passer rating after being 1.3 at halftime, and his number was boosted by a 32-yard toss to Bobby Wade. … The loss ruined Kevin Carter’s first three-sack game with the Titans and his first since Dec. 3, 2000, when he was with St. Louis against Carolina. … Titans cornerback Andre Dyson had a career-high two interceptions. … The Titans now are 1-2 in overtime games at home.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Chicago
B. Wade B. Wade WR
4 Rec, 63 yds
 Tennessee
B. Volek B. Volek QB
27-44, 334 yds
2 TDs, 1 INT

Team Stat Leaders

Passing Yards
Rushing Yards
Receiving Yards

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