Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Bears beat Seattle, Pats down Chargers

AFP , CHICAGO

Robbie Gould kicked a 49-yard field goal after four minutes and 58 seconds of overtime in Chicago on Sunday to give the Chicago Bears a 27-24 victory over Seattle in the NFL playoffs.

The second-round triumph, Chicago's first playoff victory since the 1994 season, lifted the Bears into next Sunday's NFC final in Chicago against New Orleans, with the winner advancing to next month's Super Bowl.

While the Bears held on for their victory, San Diego couldn't do the same as the top-seeded Chargers fell to the New England Patriots 24-21 in an AFC clash.

The Patriots, winners of three of the past five Super Bowls, will face Indianapolis on Sunday.

Gould's kick, matching the longest field goal of his career, snapped a three-game home playoff losing streak for the Bears.

"As a kicker, you want these opportunities," Gould said. "Just got to take advantage of the opportunity that you get and mentally focus."

Gould had tied the game with a 41-yard field goal that snuck just inside the left upright with 4:24 left in regulation.

"Robbie Gould is a Pro Bowler and you can see why," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Not only the one to win the game but the one to tie it was big."

Much of the attention before the game focused on Bears quarterback Rex Grossman, who caused plenty of angst in Chicago this season due to his propensity to commit turnovers.

During the regular season, Grossman was intercepted 20 times and lost five fumbles. But he also threw for 3,193 yards and 23 touchdowns.

On Sunday Grossman had two turnovers including one interception and a fumble. He also passed for 282 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown to Bernard Berrian in the second quarter. Berrian finished with five catches for 105 yards.

In San Diego, coach Marty Schottenheimer saw his team's superb 14-3 season come to a familiar end.

The leader among active head coaches with 200 regular-season wins, he fell to 5-13 in the postseason in his career.

"We're obviously very, very disappointed in the outcome of this football game," Schottenheimer said.

"But our guys had a great year, notwithstanding the disappointment of today. What happened today is we just ran out of time," he said.

Making the defeat particularly bitter was the Chargers' surrendering a 21-13 fourth-quarter lead and the fact that they were especially hurt by a wide receiver they no longer wanted.

Reche Caldwell, who signed as a free agent with the Patriots after spending four seasons with the Chargers, caught a touchdown pass and made an important 49-yard reception.

Caldwell also caught a four-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone with 4:36 left in the fourth quarter to pull the Patriots within 21-19.

Running back Kevin Faulk then scored the two-point conversion on a direct snap to tie the game.

After the Chargers failed to score on their next possession, New England's two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady directed his 24th fourth quarter or overtime game-winning drive. Six of those wins have come in the postseason.

Brady hit tight end Daniel Graham with a 19-yard pass to start the drive.

Then, on a third-and-10 play, Brady lofted a 49-yard pass down the right sideline for Caldwell, who beat cornerback Quentin Jammer.

"That was as tough a game as I can remember playing," Brady said. "We haven't made many big plays this season, but Reche ran a great route and I just put it up there for him," said Brady, who improved his playoff record to 12-1.

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