Pats beat Bears in error-filled gameNov 27, 2006 - 12:55 AM FOXBORO, Massachusetts (Ticker) -- A possible Super Bowl preview turned into a turnover-plagued affair. Cornerback Asante Samuel enjoyed it.
Samuel intercepted Rex Grossman three times, including a deep pass over the middle with 1:46 left in the fourth quarter, to help the New England Patriots post a 17-13 victory over the Chicago Bears in a game that featured nine turnovers.
The Patriots (8-3) committed five of the turnovers, including three inside the Chicago 20, but were still able to come out on top due to some clutch plays by Tom Brady and a defense that forced Grossman to turn the ball over four times.
Samuel doubled his season total of interceptions to six. He had six in his first three seasons with the Patriots.
"I'm going to take them home," Samuel said. "I like to keep my interceptions for memories."
Cornerback Charles Tillman had a pair of interceptions for the Bears, who have forced a league-high 34 turnovers this season.
"Well, this isn't the way you draw them up, but we're happy with the win," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "I'm sure neither team feels like they played their best football today. There were plenty of mistakes to go around out there, all the way around, every phase of the game for both teams."
The loss was just the second of the season for the Bears (9-2), who own the best record in the NFC and a commanding four-game lead over Minnesota in the NFC North.
New England, which is seeking its fourth straight AFC East title, retained a two-game lead over the New York Jets.
The Patriots have won three of the last five Super Bowls under Belichick. If they can advance to Super Bowl XLI in February, the Bears may be the opponent.
Although the regular-season meeting was an error-filled contest, the fourth quarter provided plenty of excitement.
The Bears tied the game, 10-10, when Cedric Benson scored on a two-yard run seven seconds into the fourth quarter.
The Patriots responded with an 11-play, 73-yard drive which featured two nifty runs by Brady, who normally beats teams with his arm. Tight end Ben Watson made a leaping 40-yard catch over rookie safety Danieal Manning to highlight the drive.
Brady scrambled for an 11-yard run on a 3rd-and-9 play, juking past Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher along the way, to keep the drive alive.
"That was pretty cool," Brady said of his nifty move on Urlacher, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. "At least I can tell my kids one day that I shook Brian Urlacher. They probably won't believe me. An uncoordinated stutter step is probably what it looked like."
After the run, Brady jumped up and made an emphatic first-down signal.
Brady also ran up the middle for three yards on a 3rd-and-2 play before tossing a two-yard touchdown to Watson with 8:22 left, giving the Patriots a 17-10 lead.
The Bears pulled within 17-13 on a 32-yard field goal by Robbie Gould with 3:31 remaining. A 30-yard pass interference penalty against cornerback Ellis Hobbs set up the field goal.
The Patriots appeared to be on their way to sealing the win when they reached the Chicago 22 on their next drive. But Corey Dillon fumbled after being hit by Manning and defensive end Alex Brown recovered for the Bears with 1:52 left.
However, on the next play, Grossman lofted a deep pass over the middle for Rashied Davis that was intercepted by Samuel at the New England 36, sealing the win for the Patriots.
Grossman, who committed six turnovers in a win at Arizona on October 16 and four in a loss to Miami on November 5, completed 15-of-34 passes for 176 yards. Along with his three interceptions, he also fumbled a snap.
"We didn't complete the job tonight, but Rex is our quarterback," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "We'll make necessary corrections, which we've done in the past. We're 9-2 with Rex leading our football team. He had a couple of bad passes tonight. I made a lot of bad calls as well. You could go across the board. We're not going to put it on one guy."
Brady was 22-of-33 for 269 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. He was not sacked.
"They made more plays than we did down the stretch," Urlacher said. "Both teams forced turnovers, but I was surprised we didn't have any sacks. I thought we were able to get pressure on (Brady), but we didn't do it."
New England's tandem of backs - Dillon and rookie Laurence Maroney - were held to 73 yards on 24 carries.
The Bears ran the ball effectively, totaling 153 yards on the ground. Thomas Jones led the way with 99 yards on 23 carries.
Both teams were coming off shutout wins. The Bears allowed the fewest points in the league followed by New England.
Grossman was intercepted by Samuel, Robbie Gould had a 45-yard field goal attempt blocked by Richard Seymour and Grossman fumbled a snap on Chicago's first three possessions.
The Patriots had a three-and-out on their first possession. The next two ended in turnovers - an interception by Tillman at the Chicago 6 and a fumble by Maroney which was recovered by linebacker Lance Briggs at the Chicago 15.
New England put together an 11-play, 92-yard drive which resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by Maroney with 9:07 left in the second quarter. Brady highlighted it with a 25-yard pass over the middle to tight end Daniel Graham.
The Bears broke through when Gould kicked a 46-yard field goal with 4:04 remaining in the second quarter.
Rookie Stephen Gostkowski kicked a season-high 52-yard field goal with one second left to give the Patriots a 10-3 lead.
Samuel intercepted his second pass of the game with 2:28 left in the third quarter. He cut in front of tight end Desmond Clark at the New England 7 and returned it 27 yards.
"We were basically in a lot of man defense today," Samuel said. "He (Grossman) kept coming at me, trying me, and I just made the plays."
Tillman's second interception of the game came on a deflection off the hands of Troy Brown. He returned it three yards to the Chicago 47 with 1:07 remaining in the third quarter.
"I was in the right place at the right time," Tillman said. This was a slugfest. A heavyweight battle. They just made some more plays than us."
A 45-yard pass interference penalty against safety Artrell Hawkins set up the Bears at the New England 6. Two plays later, Benson scored on a two-yard run.
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