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CHICAGO 34, TAMPA BAY 31 (OT)

Bears get home-field advantage

December 18, 2006|From the Associated Press

CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears checked another item off their to-do list.

A division title, a first-round bye and now home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs have been secured.

But this much also is certain: Chicago will have to play better than it did in the second half Sunday, or their stay in the postseason will be short.

The Bears squandered a 21-point third-quarter lead, recovering in overtime behind plays from backups Rashied Davis and Adrian Peterson to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 34-31.

"Obviously, you give up 31 points, it's not our best game. It was good enough to win, though," linebacker Brian Urlacher said.

"We're 12-2, we have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. What more do you want from us at this point in time?"

Robbie Gould, who missed earlier in overtime from 37 yards, connected on a 25-yard field goal with 3 minutes 37 seconds left to give the Bears the victory.

The win, coupled with Washington's upset of New Orleans, clinched the home-field advantage for the NFC North champion Bears.

"It's not like we're going to shut down our team. We have a few things to correct going into the playoffs," Coach Lovie Smith said, looking ahead to the Bears' remaining regular-season games against Detroit and Green Bay.

Gould's field goal came after Davis made an over-the-shoulder catch of 28 yards on a third-and-eight pass from Rex Grossman to get to the Buccaneers' 20.

Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber, defending on the play, said it wasn't a catch and questioned why there wasn't a booth review.

"The fact that they want the game to be over and they don't feel like it needs to be reviewed, it's fine with me," Barber said. "But that ball hit the ground, man."

Trailing by three touchdowns, the Buccaneers (3-11) had stunned the Bears with three fourth-quarter touchdowns, including tying the score on Tim Rattay's 44-yard touchdown pass to Ike Hilliard with 3:44 left.

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