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Tim Tebow ‘Time’ works overtime miracle against Bears

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Updated: December 12, 2011 10:58AM

DENVER — The Bears refused to buy into the hype, even though the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback rallied his team to a sixth consecutive victory.

“It’s not really what he’s doing,” Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said of Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. “He’s making the best of it, but that’s what any professional does, so I’m not really sold on it.

“We — and other teams — have to find a way to put the foot on the throat and finish games.”

But they couldn’t accept the truth: the Bears got Te-bowed.

The merits of Tebow’s clutch play in four previous come-from-behind wins could be questioned. But his performance Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High will be his signature, leading his team to an improbable 13-10 overtime win by setting up a pair or 50-plus-yard field goals by Matt Prater.

The outcome devastated the Bears, sending them to a third consecutive loss and pushing their record to 7-6, one game behind the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons in the NFC wild-card race.

“These last three games, you just shake your head,” Bears defensive end Israel Idonije said. “I don’t know what happened. I’m just like, ‘Wow.’ But what’s happened has happened. We’ve got Seattle coming in.”

With about nine minutes remaining, Bears safety Craig Steltz sacked and forced a fumble of Tebow, which Idonije recovered at the Bears’ 45.

But the offense mustered just five yards on three runs, and the Bears punted.

The Bears also went three-and-out on their next two series. Remarkably, they had the ball for only 4:22 on those three possessions. In the fourth quarter, the Bears mustered just 18 yards, all of them on runs.

The most glaring mistake was committed by running back Marion Barber, who inexplicably ran out of bounds on a second-and-10 play after the two-minute warning. Broncos backup safety Rahim Morris — subbing for veteran Brian Dawkins — missed Barber near the line of scrimmage on what ended up being a five-yard gain. But the Bears didn’t need the yardage, instead preferring the 35 seconds he cost his team. The Broncos received the punt a few plays later with 53 seconds left. Had Barber stayed in bounds, they would have had about 20 seconds, with no timeouts, to drive and set up a game-tying field goal.

“In that situation, we have to be able to keep the ball inbounds,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “He’ll tell you that. I know we’d all like to have that one back.”

Barber wasn’t available for comment after the game.

Barber finished the game with 108 rushing yards on 27 carries, but he fumbled in overtime at the Broncos’ 33-yard line.

On the next play, Robbie Gould — who earlier hit a franchise-record 57-yarder — would have lined up for a 51-yard field goal.

“He’s a veteran; he knows better,” Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said of Barber. “You can’t do that. Thank God for us.”

The game was largely ugly in the first half, with both offenses struggling and dropping balls.

But Devin Hester returned a punt 26 yards in the third quarter, handing the ball to his offense at the Broncos’ 42-yard line. Barber pounded five runs for 36 yards, including nine yards for the touchdown.

“All losses are tough, but this one is especially tough,” Smith said. “This one hurts. There’s not a lot more I can say.”

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