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Broncos Rally for Sixth Consecutive Win

Posted Dec 11, 2011

Matt Prater's 51-yard field goal in overtime gave Denver a come-from-behind, 13-10 win over Chicago at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Sunday.


DENVER -- Everything was against them.
    
The Broncos were down 10-0 with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter. They had managed only 96 yards against one of the best defenses in the NFL and had no timeouts left.

And yet, a half-hour later, there were the Broncos, jubilantly hopping, skipping and running off the field after Matt Prater kicked a 51-yard field goal to give Denver a 13-10 overtime victory and sole possession of first place in the AFC West. It was the Broncos' sixth straight victory, and the third consecutive game they have won on a walk-off Prater field goal.

"We just felt like we were battle tested," linebacker Von Miller said. "We've been here before. We just felt extremely confident about the situation we were in and that we were going to be able to pull it off. That's just the mindset we've got. It just shows the character that we've got in the locker room."

That character was apparent on the field Sunday, as for most of the second half, the thought of overtime seemed more like a dream than a reality.

In a game where both defenses weren't giving up any ground, scoring was at a premium, and the Bears took advantage first. A 10-yard Marion Barber touchdown run and a franchise-record 57-yard field goal from Robbie Gould put Chicago up 10-0 at the start of the fourth quarter.

The next three offensive series after Gould made it a two-possession game, the Broncos managed just two first downs and turned the ball over on a fumble.

Despite the seemingly dire situation, the team never gave up hope.

"I never have doubt until I walk off that field," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "Once you say that, you might as well just walk off the field and go into the locker room. You can't stop believing. Anytime there is time left on the clock, you have to keep believing."

So when quarterback Tim Tebow and the offense took the field with 4:34 remaining, they knew the game wasn't out of reach. But they had to score.

Starting at its own 37-yard line, the offense started chipping away. There was running back Lance Ball with a 6-yard reception. A few plays later, running back Jeremiah Johnson joined the mix with a pickup of 8 yards on another check-down reception. Then Tebow hit Matthew Willis over the middle for 19 yards and suddenly the Broncos were at the Bears 17-yard line with less than three minutes remaining.

Two plays later, Tebow scrambled to his right and found Demaryius Thomas wide open in the corner for a 10-yard touchdown pass that brought the Broncos within three points with 2:08 remaining.

"Tim came in (the huddle) and just talked to us," Thomas said. "He just said, 'Get first down after first down.' We did that and got more chances and more chances. Just kept getting first downs and kept believing in each other."

Denver went for the onside kick, which bounced twice and gave Denver a chance, but the Broncos couldn't come up with it. All Chicago needed was a first down to run out the clock.

Thankfully for the Broncos - who didn't have any timeouts - the clock stopped at the two-minute warning stopped after they stuffed Marion Barber for no gain.

Denver caught a game-saving break on second down.

Barber took the handoff on a sweep to the left. He kept drifting left until D.J. Williams pushed him out of bounds, stopping the clock at 1:55.

"I might have thanked the Lord when he did that," Tebow said. "He obviously, probably shouldn't do that, and that kept us in it. I mean, we probably would have had 10 seconds if he stayed in-bounds. But, it was just special."

Instead, the Broncos got the ball back on their own 20-yard line with 53 seconds left. Three completions later, Denver made it all the way to the Bears 41-yard line, setting Prater up for what would be his first of two pressure-packed 50-plus-yard field goal attempts.

He stepped into the 59-yarder and nailed it.

"You can't say enough about Prater and how clutch he is and how much he means to our team," Tebow said. "He's a great guy and a great person and a great player. I'm proud that he's on our team."

With the successful attempt, the game went into overtime, and the Bears won the coin toss.

They were able to drive down the field, and were in range for a game-winning field goal.

But the Broncos defense, which had played well all game but had not come up with the big play it needed, came through when it mattered most.

On third-and-7 from the Broncos 38-yard line, Barber took the handoff up the middle. After a 5-yard gain, he was met by a couple of Broncos including Wesley Woodyard, who stuck his arm out and forced the ball from his grasp. Elvis Dumervil pounced on it to give Denver new life.

"It was crazy," Williams said. "I believe he was fighting for extra yardage. Our mentality was strip the ball, get the ball back. We got on the ball and it was history from there."

Indeed, Tebow and the Broncos marched down the field, with help from two huge catches by Thomas - the most important one being a 10-yard reception on third-and-8, setting Prater up for his third game-winning field goal in a row.

"This has been a fun ride," Head Coach John Fox said. "I don't think we are done yet."