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PRO FOOTBALL : Bears Win on Final Play, and It's Butler Who Does It, 26-24

November 09, 1987| From Times Wire Services

GREEN BAY — Kevin Butler of the Chicago Bears wanted to kick himself after missing his first two field goal attempts Sunday.

Instead he kicked the Bears to a 26-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers with four field goals--including a 52-yarder that won the game on the final play.

"I don't know how long we can keep winning like this," Butler said after quarterback Jim McMahon led the Bears to a third straight comeback victory. "I'm going to get gray hairs and I'm only 25.

"There was no doubt Jim would lead us downfield. The only question was whether it would have been a 60- or a 30-yard kick."

Two weeks ago, Chicago was trailing by 20 points to Tampa Bay and came from behind to win, 27-26. Last week, the Bears trailed Kansas City by 14 points and came from behind to win, 31-28.

The victory extended McMahon's winning streak as the Bears' starting quarterback to 25 straight games.

Green Bay's Al Del Greco connected on a 47-yard field goal with a minute left to give the Packers (3-4-1) a 24-23 lead.

But McMahon brought Chicago to the Packers' 35 with passes of 21 yards to Ron Morris and 20 yards to Dennis McKinnon. After three straight incomplete passes and a Packer timeout, Butler connected and was mobbed by his teammates.

Butler dropped to 3 for 9 for the season after missing field goal attempts from 47 and 48 yards in the first half. He connected from 27, 29 and 24 yards before the 52-yarder matched his career longest, set against Green Bay last season.

"You can't go 3 for 9 and kick in this league," Butler said. "I just want to thank the Packers for calling a timeout. It cleared my mind and I was able to set up well."

The Bears (7-1) maintained their lead in the NFC Central Division.

Butler put the Bears ahead, 23-21, with 3:59 to go by hitting his 24-yarder.

"I feel happy for Kevin Butler," Chicago Coach Mike Ditka said. "He's struggled at times but he came through when it counted.

"This is the third time in a row we've won like that. We never lost faith we could do it."

Green Bay quarterback Randy Wright, making his first start since the season opener, moved the Packers into position for Del Greco's go-ahead kick by driving the Packers to the Bears' 29. Del Greco, who had two earlier misses, made his 47-yarder into a stiff wind.

"Al gave us the go-ahead points when we needed them," Packer Coach Forrest Gregg said. "He handled the pressure well. We just didn't keep them out of field goal range at the end. We didn't get it done.

"Butler's kick was a great kick, no question about that."

Walter Payton's one-yard leap for a touchdown on a fourth down capped an 80-yard Bear drive and cut Green Bay's lead to 21-20 with 11:36 remaining. The drive came after Del Greco missed a 26-yard field goal try late in the third quarter.

The Packers took a 21-13 halftime lead when Wright hit Phil Epps with a 26-yard touchdown pass with 11 seconds left in the second quarter. The 64-yard, final-minute drive began when Green Bay's Mark Lee intercepted McMahon with 46 seconds to go. Epps had receptions of 18 and 25 yards in the drive before his over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone.

McMahon lofted a 59-yard scoring pass to Neal Anderson on the Bears' first offensive play of the game, giving Chicago a quick 7-0 lead.

But the Packers came back with two first-quarter touchdowns. Wright passed 27 yards to Ed West for the first touchdown. The score came after a 40-yard pass to Epps, originally ruled incomplete, was verified as a completion by an instant-replay official.

Tiger Greene intercepted a pass by McMahon late in the first quarter and returned 10 yards to Chicago's 34. Wright hit West for 30 yards to set up Brent Fullwood's two-yard touchdown run, making it 14-7.

Butler hit field goals from 27 and 29 yards in the second quarter to bring the Bears to within 14-13.

McMahon completed 21 of 42 attempts for 259 yards.

Payton, who was honored by the Packers before the game, gained 49 yards in 12 carries.

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