CHICAGO -- Robbie Gould made up for an earlier miss with a game-winning 41-yard field goal as time expired to give the Bears a 23-22 victory over struggling Carolina on Sunday afternoon.
Gould, who missed a 33-yard try early in the fourth quarter, calmly split the uprights as the Bears (6-1) claimed their fifth straight victory.
Carolina (1-6) suffered its fifth consecutive loss -- and fourth in a row by five points or less -- capping a tumultuous week that began with last Monday's dismissal of general manager Marty Hurney.
The Panthers led 22-20 heading into the final 2:32 after Justin Medlock hit his fifth field goal of the game -- a 45-yarder that took a kind bounce off the right upright and over the crossbar.
But Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler guided the Bears on a nine-play, 55-yard drive to give Gould his last-ditch chance.
Earlier, the Bears awoke from a nearly game-long slumber with two fourth quarter touchdowns in an eight-second span to climb back into the game.
Trailing 19-7 with less than seven minutes to play, Cutler connected with tight end Kellen Davis on a 12-yard touchdown strike with 6:52 showing.
Seconds later, Bears cornerback Tim Jennings picked off Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, scoring on a 25-yard interception return. A two-point conversion try failed.
The Panthers (1-6) dropped their fifth straight after they appeared to be in control with a late 19-7 lead built on four Medlock field goals and an alert end zone fumble recovery by Louis Murphy.
Carolina's defense harassed Cutler, who went 19 of 28 for 186 yards, was picked off once, fumbled twice and was sacked six times.
Defensive end Greg Hardy, pulled from practice on Thursday with a reported illness, appeared fully recovered as he sacked Cutler three times while recording five tackles.
Punchless much of the game, the Bears were shut out much of the game following a first quarter scoring drive.
The Bears struck on a 4-play, 49-yard drive on their second possession with Matt Forte running off right guard on a 13-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead with 4:37 left in the first quarter.
The Panthers tried to match as Newton hit wide receiver Brandon LaFell on a 62-yard strike on first down. That set up Carolina at the Chicago18, but the Panthers stalled and settled for a 34-yard Medlock field goal with 2:06 showing.
Cutler was sacked at his own 16 in the quarter's waning seconds, giving the Panthers another shot at the end zone. Starting the second quarter inside the Chicago 10, Carolina succeeded this time despite a nearly botched Newton run.
Newton was hit at the Bears' 2, fumbled into the end zone and the ball was recovered by wide receiver Louis Murphy for a touchdown and a 10-7 Carolina lead.
Medlock added a 31-yard field goal with 4:36 left in the half to open a 13-7 advantage. He had successful shots of 22 and 43 yards in the third quarter.
Entering the final quarter, the Panthers dominated time of possession (30.11 minutes to 14:38) while out gaining the Panthers 369 to 94 in total yardage.
The 12-yard Cutler-to-Davis score came with 6:52 left in the fourth quarter. Jennings' pick followed with 6:44 to play.
NOTES: The Bears set a new franchise record with six interceptions returned for touchdowns in a single season. ... Prior to the game the Panthers placed linebacker Jon Beason on injured reserve, released defensive tackle Frank Kearse and added three players to the 53-man roster: cornerback James Dockery, linebacker Doug Hogue and defensive tackle Nate Chandler. ... Carolina coach Ron Rivera is no stranger to the Bears and Soldier Field. He played for Chicago from 1984-92, served as an assistant coach from 1997-98 and was Bears' defensive coordinator from 2004-06 ... Sunday's game was fourth time in five years and third straight season the teams have met. The Bears had won the last two straight, including 34-29 in 2011 ... Special teams star Devin Hester has vowed he'll be more aggressive on returns after being shut out so far this season. He has 29 kick and punt return touchdowns through a seven-year career. ... Cutler uncorked a 48-yard bomb to wide receiver Brandon Marshall on the Bears' first series. It was on-target, but the throw into triple coverage was intercepted.