DENVER — John Elway won a game of dueling quarterbacks with Jim McMahon, throwing for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns Monday night as the Denver Broncos twice erased deficits to beat the Chicago Bears, 31-29.
Elway brought the Broncos back from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit and from eight points back in the fourth, finally running the drive that culminated in Steve Sewell's four-yard touchdown run with 4:58 left for the winning points.
The final margin was two missed extra points by the Bears. Kevin Butler kicked one wide left, and another failed when holder Mike Tomczak fumbled the snap.
The Broncos (5-3-1) turned the tables on the Bears (7-2), whose three previous post-strike games were victories by one, three and two points over Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Green Bay.
It also marked the first Chicago loss in 26 games started by McMahon, who completed 21 of 34 passes for 311 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also sneaked one yard for a fourth touchdown.
Ironically, McMahon was also the goat, throwing an off-balance pass that was intercepted by rookie K.C. Clark as the Bears, holding a 29-24 lead, were driving midway through the fourth quarter.
Elway, who completed 21 of 40 attempts, directed the Broncos' 8-play, 61-yard drive to the winning touchdown.
The Denver defense then throttled the Bears with their only three sacks of the night, the final one sending McMahon limping off the field with 36 seconds left to play.
The Bears took a 7-0 lead just 3:15 into the game on a 51-yard touchdown pass play from McMahon to Willie Gault and made it 14-0 six minutes later on an 86-yard drive capped by McMahon's 6-yard touchdown pass to Cap Boso.
Then it was Elway's turn.
The Broncos made it 14-7 with 51 seconds gone in the second quarter when Elway connected with Vance Johnson on a 22-yard play. The ball deflected off the fingers of safety Todd Bell into Johnson's hands.
The Bears came back, moving 89 yards to the Denver one. Then came what might have been the game's key play. On third down, Chicago used 315-pound defensive tackle William (The Refrigerator) Perry in the backfield for the first time this season. But the move backfired. Perry fumbled the ball at the goal line and Mark Haynes returned it to the 24.
From there, Denver moved 76 yards in 10 plays, tying the game on Elway's 22-yard pass to Mark Jackson with 1:54 left in the half.