DENVER — Tim Tebow did it again. Matt Prater’s 51-yard field goal 6 1/2 minutes into overtime gave the Broncos a 13-10 win over the stunned Chicago Bears on Sunday. Prater’s 59-yarder with 3 seconds left in regulation tied the score after Tebow led another rally.
It was Denver’s sixth straight win, and half of them have come in OT since Tebow, dubbed the “Mile High Messiah,” was promoted to starter.
This one put the Broncos in sole possession of first place in the AFC West following Oakland’s 46-16 drubbing at Green Bay.
After failing to score on their first dozen possessions, the Broncos (8-5) erased a 10-0 deficit in the final 2:08 of regulation.
Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas with a 10-yard TD pass, then got the ball back with 53 seconds left after Marion Barber saved Denver precious time by going out of bounds when the Bears were trying to run out the clock.
Tebow drove the Broncos 39 yards for Prater’s kick, which he rocketed through the uprights.
The Bears (7-6) won the toss in overtime and quickly got into field goal range before Barber, who rushed for 108 yards but will be remembered for his two late mistakes, coughed up the football at the Broncos 34 and Elvis Dumervil recovered.
Denver was out of timeouts after Thomas’ touchdown and had to try an onside kick, which the Broncos couldn’t recover. But on second down after the two-minute warning, Barber cut outside and was pushed out, stopping the clock.
The Bears would have to punt, and Tebow got the ball back at his 20 and went to work, not needing to go far with Prater’s strong leg in the thin air.Tebow, who also led the Broncos to wins in OT at Miami and San Diego since his promotion over Kyle Orton in October, ran 12 times for 49 yards and completed 21 of 40 passes for a season-best 236 yards.
He was intercepted once, fumbled the ball away on another play and was sacked five times by Brian Urlacher & Co., who couldn’t seal the win despite their stout defense.
The Bears, whose playoff hopes are faltering, are 0-3 since Caleb Hanie replaced an injured Jay Cutler, the former Broncos QB who has a broken thumb on his throwing hand and is out indefinitely.
Hanie completed 12 of 19 passes for 115 yards and was sacked four times.
The beat-up Bears also were without top running back Matt Forte, who’s out indefinitely with a knee injury, depriving Chicago of the league’s leader in yards from scrimmage (1,487) and its third-leading rusher (997).
His replacement, Barber, broke a scoreless tie in the third quarter with a 9-yard touchdown run.
The Bears ran just one play in Broncos territory – Hanie’s pass to Kahlil Bell from the 48 that lost 5 yards in the first half – until Devin Hester returned the game’s 12th punt 26 yards to midfield midway through the third.
With safeties Brian Dawkins (neck) and David Bruton (calf) sidelined, the Broncos were left with rookies Quinton Carter and Raheem Moore, and both of them missed the tackle on Barber’s TD.
Cornerback Andre’ Goodman sustained a concussion three plays before Barber scored.
Barber gained 16 yards on a screen pass from Hanie on third-and-27 on the final play of the third quarter. After the break, coach Lovie Smith sent Robbie Gould out for a 57-yard field goal attempt.
No Bears kicker had ever made it from that far.
Gould, whose previous long was from 54 yards last year at Detroit, nailed it with lots of room to spare, giving the Bears a 10-0 lead.
He would be outdone by Prater.