LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- The Chicago Bears are still finding amazing
ways to win games. This time, they let their star linebacker catch
a touchdown pass.
Brad Maynard, the holder on a fake field goal, threw a 27-yard
pass to linebacker Brian Urlacher for the winning touchdown Sunday
as the Chicago Bears eliminated the Washington Redskins from the
playoff race with a 20-15 victory.
"We're basically writing a storybook," said Maynard, who also
is Chicago's punter. "We keep adding pages to it. I'm kind of
anxious to see where we are in six or seven more weeks."
The Bears (11-3) are the surprise team in the NFC, atop the
Central Division with a season that has included come-from-behind
overtime victories over San Francisco and Cleveland and a
fourth-quarter comeback against Detroit.
The Redskins (6-8), meanwhile, are out of the playoff chase,
their revival from an 0-5 start ending with their third straight
How deep into the playoffs can the Bears go without better play from their offense?
I think the Bears can win a game at home, but they'll struggle when they go on the road unless they do something on offense.
They won with a trick play Sunday; if they had to rely on their offense alone, they probably would have fallen short.
The Bears need better play from QB Jim Miller and from their wide receivers, and they need to give those guys a chance to make plays. They need to become more aggressive, go downfield more.
It looks like they're playing not to lose on offense, and you don't go far in the playoffs with that approach.
ESPN.com's Vinny Cerrato was director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.
"To come back from 0-5 and to 5-0, it doesn't matter," tackle
Jon Jansen said. "We wanted to get into the postseason, and this
year we won't, so it's tough to swallow."
Maynard also took a late safety and landed his 31st and 32nd
punts inside the 20. His highlight, though, was his second career
NFL pass as the Bears lined up for a field goal trailing 13-10.
Urlacher went in motion before the snap, and Maynard took the
ball and rolled right with the option to pitch to kicker Paul
Edinger. Instead, Urlacher -- who dropped the ball both times when
the play was practiced Friday -- was wide open.
"Surely, he's not going to miss a third," Maynard said.
Urlacher indeed made the reception, his first since his senior
year in college.
"In the game I don't drop them," Urlacher said. "And that's
all that matters."
The play gave Urlacher the final word in a matchup with the
league's other emerging second-year linebacker, LaVar Arrington.
There were a few verbal jabs traded during the week,
particularly between Urlacher and quarterback Tony Banks. Both
linebackers played well in the defense-dominated game, but it's
hard to top a touchdown reception on a fake field goal.
"It was fun, someone saying something like that," Urlacher
said. "But it didn't make me play harder. I play hard all the
Historians will note it's the second time a Bears linebacker has
caught a pass to beat the Redskins. Dick Butkus caught an aborted
extra point in a 16-15 victory in 1971.
Urlacher's catch was one of two fourth-down conversions on the
15-play, 78-yard drive. Jim Miller sneaked for a first down on
fourth-and-1 at the Bears 41.
Edinger added a 37-yard field goal with 3:23 remaining, making
it 20-13, and the Redskins had a chance to tie on their final
drive. Starting at their own 36 with 3:15 remaining, they moved the
ball to Chicago's 3, where they had second-and-1.
But Stephen Davis was stuffed for no gain on the next play, and
incomplete passes on third and fourth down ended the threat with
Maynard ran out of the end zone for a safety with 20 seconds
left for the game's final points. Eric Metcalf fumbled the ensuing
punt, giving the ball back to the Bears and denying the Redskins a
final desperation play.
"We come up short again," Washington coach Marty
Schottenheimer said. "It's a play here and there. Got to take your
hat off to them on the fake field goal. Get a stop there and we're
looking at a different story possibly."
Edinger kicked a 39-yard field goal on Chicago's first
possession, and Leon Johnson had a 32-yard touchdown run in the
second quarter. Davis' 3-yard run in the first quarter was
Washington's only touchdown, and Brett Conway added field goals of
34 and 26 yards.
The Bears have 11 victories for the first time since the
1991 team finished 11-5. They had lost six in a row to the
Redskins, their longest losing streak against any team, with their
last victory coming in 1988. ... Maynard, a high school
quarterback, had never run a fake before. He was 0-for-1 in the NFL
as a passer. ... Chicago committed only one penalty, a pass
interference call on Washington's final drive. ... Bears safety
Larry Whigham strained his left hamstring. ... The Bears are 11-0
when scoring 13 points or more. ... There were three fumbles in the
first three minutes. Chicago's Autry Denson lost the opening
kickoff, but Banks fumbled it back to the Bears three plays later.
Another three plays later, Chicago's Daimon Shelton fumbled, but
the ball went out of bounds.
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