CHICAGO (AP) Bears
safety Mike Brown remembered all too well how Terrell Owens embarrassed
Chicago last year. Brown was only too happy to return the favor.
Brown picked off a pass intended
for Owens in overtime and returned it 32 yards for the winning score Sunday
as Chicago rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat the San Francisco 49ers
Rookie David Terrell caught two touchdown
passes in the fourth quarter, and former Michigan teammate Anthony Thomas
rushed for another score and a key 2-point conversion as the Bears (5-1)
won their fifth straight. It's the first time Chicago has won five in a
row since 1991.
As Brown crossed the goal line, he
held up the ball in celebration and the rest of the Bears rushed toward
him. Brown then took a victory trot around the edge of the end zone, stopping
to acknowledge the roaring fans.
Terrell caught three passes for 19
yards, and Thomas had 127 yards, his second straight 100-yard game. Shane
Matthews, who replaced injured quarterback Jim Miller in the second quarter,
was 25-of-31 for 166 yards.
The Bears' stunning victory spoiled
a huge day for Garrison Hearst, who scored his first touchdown since December
1998. Hearst, who missed the last two seasons with a severe ankle injury,
caught four passes for 105 yards and rushed for 46 yards.
Jeff Garcia was 21-for-28, but it
was his last throw to Owens that cost the 49ers (4-2) the game. Owens burned
Chicago for an NFL-record 20 catches in a 17-0 rout last season, and the
Bears had talked about payback all week.
And oh, how sweet it was. Off to
their best start in 11 years, the Bears looked out of synch and out of
their element early. Even the vaunted defense looked shaky, as Garcia picked
the Bears apart.
But trailing 28-9, the Bears made
an amazing comeback. Though he hadn't played since injuring his ribs Sept.
23, Matthews coolly led the Bears to three scores in the last 20 minutes.
Thomas, who set a team rookie record
with 188 yards last week, got it started. His 12-yard rush set up Terrell's
13-yard TD catch that cut San Francisco's lead to 31-23 with 4:08 left.
Chicago's defense shut down the 49ers,
forcing them to go three-and-out and giving the Bears the ball back with
a little over two minutes left. And Matthews led Chicago on another scoring
Using five receivers, he completed
eight straight passes and brought the Bears to the San Francisco 4 before
spiking the ball with 26 seconds left to save some time.
He then found Terrell, and the rookie
made a beautiful scoring grab, somehow managing to keep inbounds before
falling over. When Terrell popped back up, he let out a roar and spiked
the ball so hard he probably left a mark.
The 49ers challenged the call, but
replays showed Terrell had both feet inbounds. Thomas then scooted around
a pile for the conversion. San Francisco challenged that call, too, saying
he had a knee down before he crossed the goal line. But after reviewing
it, officials said Thomas' knee touched as he crossed, so the conversion
San Francisco chose to run out the
clock, and they got the ball first. But on the first play of overtime,
Garcia looked for Owens and instead found Brown.
The Bears now have returned a takeaway
for a score in three straight games.