Rapid Reaction: Broncos 13, Bears 10 (OT)
December, 11, 2011
By Michael C. Wright | ESPN.com
Justin Edmonds/Getty ImagesA pair of clutch Matt Prater field goals aided the Broncos' comeback win on Sunday.DENVER -- The Chicago Bears couldn’t ward off the magic of Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos in dropping a 13-10 heartbreaker in overtime Sunday that will dramatically impact their standing in the NFC wildcard race.
A Marion Barber fumble sealed the team’s fate in overtime, and a questionable decision by the running back to step out of bounds -- which stopped the clock -- played a significant role in Denver tying the game at the end of regulation to send it into OT.
Marion, Marion, Marion…
Let’s take a closer look:
What it means: The Bears put themselves in a difficult spot for earning the postseason berth they seek, and they certainly didn’t get any help from the other NFC teams in the wildcard hunt.
Interestingly, last week all the teams in contention for the wildcard spots -- the Bears, Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions -- lost their respective games, leaving the standings unchanged. But the opposite transpired on Sunday, with every team in the NFC hunt except for the Bears winning their games.
So Chicago’s loss drops it out of the wildcard picture. The club will likely have to win each of its remaining four games to sneak back into the race.
Latest on Martz: Speculation circulated recently linking offensive coordinator Mike Martz to various college job openings, and one spot -- Jacksonville -- in the NFL. In fact, some reports -- which the coach denied last week -- actually indicated Martz was interested in leaving Chicago.
Interestingly though, such rumors have subsided for the most part. Bears general manager Jerry Angelo touched on Martz’s situation prior to Sunday’s game, and mentioned that several coaches in the final year of their contract worked through the ends of the deal, only to have the agreement renewed at the conclusion of the season.
Angelo insisted that Martz’s future won’t be addressed until after the season.
“All that will be addressed at the end of the season,” Angelo said. “Our focus right now is on today’s game, and next week’s game. The business will take care of itself.”
It should, given what appears to be an overall lack of interest in Martz around the NFL and college ranks. Bears coach Lovie Smith indicated he’d be interested in bringing back Martz for the 2012 season.
The front office likely feels the same because of the need to maintain continuity for quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler has said he’d prefer to not have to learn his third offense in four seasons with a new coordinator. So count on the front office working hard this offseason to bring back Martz.
Golden Goose: Robbie Gould kicked a 57-yard field goal to start the fourth quarter, which appeared long enough to be good from a distance of approximately 65 yards.
Gould’s field goal was the longest in team history, and broke his own personal best of 54 yards last season against the Detroit Lions.
Prior to Gould’s bomb on Sunday, Kevin Butler and Bob Thomas were tied for the longest field goals in franchise history (55 yards). Butler connected on 55 yarders twice: on Dec. 12, 1993 at Tampa Bay, and on Oct. 25, 1993 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Thomas kicked a 55-yard field goal game in 1975 against the Los Angeles Rams.
What’s next: The Bears have ended their run of AFC West foes. Next week they host Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks.
4:30 PM ET Philadelphia Washington 8:25 PM ET San Diego San Francisco
1:00 PM ET Minnesota Miami 1:00 PM ET Baltimore Houston 1:00 PM ET Detroit Chicago 1:00 PM ET Cleveland Carolina 1:00 PM ET Atlanta New Orleans 1:00 PM ET Green Bay Tampa Bay 1:00 PM ET Kansas City Pittsburgh 1:00 PM ET New England New York 4:05 PM ET New York St. Louis 4:25 PM ET Buffalo Oakland 4:25 PM ET Indianapolis Dallas 8:30 PM ET Seattle Arizona