New England 33, Chicago 30

Nov. 10, 2002 at 10:17 PM
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Nov. 10 (UPI) -- After having an interception overturned by replay, Tom Brady capped a huge comeback Sunday by throwing a 20-yard touchdown pass to David Patten with 20 seconds remaining, lifting the New England Patriots to a dramatic 33-30 victory over the Chicago Bears.

Behind the improbable MVP of last season's Super Bowl, the Patriots recaptured some of their 2001 magic by overcoming a 21-point third-quarter deficit and rallying from 11 points down in the final 2:46 of the contest.

"You make bad plays early in the game, you've to make a lot more good ones at the end," Brady said. "As long as there is time left on the clock, you always have a shot. I always felt like we had a shot."

But before Brady completed the comeback, he received some good fortune thanks to instant replay that overturned an interception by defensive end Bryan Robinson with 47 seconds remaining. The play was overturned when it was ruled Robinson did not have control of the ball.

Four plays after the reversal, Brady came through on fourth and three when he lofted a pass into the right corner of the end zone for Patten, who got behind cornerback R.W. McQuarters.

Patten came down with the ball, got his right foot down and dragged his left for the touchdown. That play also was reviewed but stood.

In last season's divisional playoff against Oakland, the Patriots benefited from replay when Brady appeared to lose a fumble late in the fourth quarter. But that play was reversed and the Patriots rallied for a victory, using that game as a springboard in their Super Bowl run.

Brady and the Patriots (5-4) hope they could use this as a springboard as well. They have won consecutive games following a four-game losing streak.

"That was a wild one," Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said. "I can't remember too many games like that, that I've ever been a part of. We had a couple of come-from-behinders last year, but not really anything like that. It's a situation where we had to do so many things right in the last 20 minutes for the game to end like it did."

Anthony Thomas rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown for the Bears (2-7), who have lost seven straight games, matching their longest skid since they dropped seven straight to start the 1997 season.

"I thought it was over, we had a chance to make a play and we didn't," Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "It was the most frustrating loss of the season."

"This loss is no harder to take than any of the other ones," Bears Coach Dick Jauron said. "This is a game we could've won. I don't really know what that means. I've never like the would've or should've. We just didn't make the plays down at the wire and they did."

Trying to break their losing streak, the Bears seemed to have things in hand when Thomas scored on a two-yard run with 6:42 left in the third quarter, giving them a 27-6 lead.

Thomas' touchdown came three plays after Urlacher intercepted Brady at the New England 36. Thomas also had a 34-yard run before reaching the end zone.

But that was the last mistake for Brady, who led the Patriots to three touchdowns and two field goals on their final five drives.

Brady started to make amends for the interception, engineering an eight-play, 75-yard drive that he capped with a 15-yard pass to running back Kevin Faulk with 3:04 left in the third quarter.

"We were down three touchdowns, we scored to get it to two touchdowns and I said, `Man, we've got a shot,'" Brady said.

Jim Miller, who replaced an injured Chris Chandler in the second quarter, was intercepted by Otis Smith on the Bears' next possession, leading to Adam Vinatieri's 42-yard field goal with under two minutes left in the quarter.

Vinatieri and Paul Edinger traded field goals in the first 9:38 of the fourth quarter, leaving the Patriots down, 30-19, but with enough time for Brady to work his magic.

Brady began by finding Faulk down the left sideline for a 36-yard touchdown with 2:46 to play. The conversion failed after Urlacher ran down Faulk on a running play.

On the Bears' ensuing possession, the Patriots saw their defense give the offense another chance. On third and one from the 34, Thomas was stopped for no gain by tackle Richard Seymour and linebacker Ted Johnson.

"We ran the same play when we scored earlier," Thomas said. "We had the exact same play, the exact same formation. Everyone seemed to know where it was going."

Brady got the ball back at his own 44 with 1:50 remaining and went to work, finding Patten over the middle for 19 yards to the Chicago 37. He also converted a fourth and three by sneaking up the middle for four yards to the 27.

Robinson looked like he would end the comeback when he jumped up at the 34 and intercepted Brady. But he never had control of the ball and Brady and Patten completed the unlikely comeback.

Brady finished 36 of 55 for 328 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

The second half featured 51 points after Vinatieri and Edinger each kicked two field goals in the opening 30 minutes.

One of the field goals was a club-record 57-yarder by Vinatieri 4:45 into the second quarter.

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