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THE NFL / 1996

With a Little Luck, Broncos Put Drop on Bears, 17-12

Interconference: Pass on tackle-eligible play slips away for Chicago, allowing Denver to improve to league-best 9-1.

November 11, 1996|From Associated Press

DENVER — Defense has traditionally been the Chicago Bears' forte. The Denver Broncos proved they could play a little too.

Barely enough, as it turned out.

Denver, boasting the NFL's top-ranked offense and accustomed to high-scoring games, mounted a determined goal-line stand in the waning moments, holding off the Bears, 17-12, after a critical dropped pass on Sunday.

Tackle-eligible Jim Flanigan, who caught two touchdown passes last season for the Bears, failed to hold on to a potential touchdown pass at the goal line with four seconds left. He was wide open.

Tyrone Braxton knocked away an end-zone pass on the final play.

"When you're faced with a situation like that, you just need to make the play," Braxton said. "That's what makes this game fun."

It was the third key defensive play of the game for Braxton, who also had a fumble recovery and interception.

The Bears had a first and goal at the Denver one-yard line with 40 seconds remaining, but couldn't convert on four plays.

"I was out for the first two plays," Braxton said. "I came in for the nickel [alignment]. I was just sitting there waiting. On fourth and goal, we doubled [intended receiver Curtis] Conway. We knew where they wanted to go."

Denver Coach Mike Shanahan said his team "found a way to win, even when we played poorly. Our guys picked it up right there at the end."

John Elway threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Shannon Sharpe and Terrell Davis ran for a one-yard score, but the Broncos (9-1), who extended their winning streak to six games, managed to withstand a furious second-half comeback by Chicago (4-6).

The Bears rallied from a 14-3 halftime deficit, getting within 17-12 on Jeff Jaeger's 48-yard field goal with 9:23 remaining.

With 2:56 left, the Bears drove from their own 20 to the Denver one-yard line, thanks to Dave Krieg's 21-yard pass to Bobby Engram and 14-yarder to Curtis Conway. A pass-interference penalty on Denver's Randy Hilliard gave the Bears a first and goal.

But running back Raymont Harris was stopped for a one-yard loss by Alfred Williams and for a two-yard loss by Bill Romanowski. On third down, Flanigan let a pass from Krieg slip between his hands.

Finally, with the crowd in a frenzy, Braxton batted away Krieg's pass intended for Conway in the right corner of the end zone.

"To waste this effort, it tears your guts out," Chicago Coach Dave Wannstedt said. "It's the worst I've felt in a long time. All I can say is, our guys didn't quit. We got the ball down there, and it gave us a chance to win the game."

The Bears ran the ball effectively against the NFL's No. 1 run defense, generating 174 yards--including 121 in the second half--against a unit that had been yielding only 77 yards per game.

Denver had touchdown drives of 80 and 63 yards in taking a 14-3 halftime lead.

Davis had 76 yards in 21 carries and raised his season total to 1,055 yards. He is the 14th player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 in each of his first two seasons. He also is the quickest Denver back ever to reach the 1,000-yard plateau, doing it in 10 games. Otis Armstrong did it in 12 games in 1974.

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