Asante Samuel was the defensive star of the game with three interceptions of Rex Grossman. As a whole, the Patriots defensive squad did not allow Chicago to really take advantage of their opportunities, holding them to only one touchdown despite the running of Thomas Jones (23 carries, 99 yards) and Cedric Benson (10 carries, 46 yards). On offense Ben Watson had 6 grabs for 89 yards and a touchdown while Tom Brady was 22 of 33 for 269 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions on tipped balls.
The first quarter began less the defensive struggle many predicted and more a series of miscues by both teams.
New England went three and out on the game's opening drive while Samuel picked off Grossman on the Chicago's first series. Although the turnover set the Patriots up first and 10 at the Bears 39, it was just the first of four that kept both teams off the scoreboard in the first quarter.
The second one came during the series after Samuel's pick. New England had a third and 8 from the Bears 24 and Brady looked down the middle to Watson. The ball was on the mark and it looked like Watson was going to come down with the catch at the 1-yard line but Bears safety Todd Johnson made the hit just as Watson's feet hit the ground and the ball popped up into the air. Charles Tillman came down with it at the 5-yard line.
Just like New England, the Bears looked like they might convert their turnover into points. While the Patriots defense was doing a good job against the run, Grossman was passing his way downfield using Desmond Clark for 9 and 13 yards and then Bernard Berrian (5 catches, 104 yards) for 21 yards to the New England 25. The Patriots held from there and kicker Robbie Gould set up for a 40-yard field goal. The kick was good but the Bears were flagged for a false start. That moved the ball back 5 yards and this time, Richard Seymour got a hand up and blocked the attempt to keep the game scoreless.
New England took over at the 35-yard line and Brady went to work hitting Troy Brown for 13 on third and 5 from the 40. On the next play, Dillon broke free through the right side for a run of 26 yards. Another 10 yards were tacked on after Danieal Manning of the Bears hit him out of bounds. Now with a first and 10 at the Chicago 11, it looked like some sure points for New England. The turnovers continued, however, when Maroney took the ball up the middle on the next play and was met by Lance Briggs. Briggs not only made the stop, he stripped Maroney of the ball on his way down and recovered the fumble.
The Bears threatened to score first once again after the Patriots second turnover. Grossman began the series with a 13-yard completion to Benson followed by a Benson run for 14 to the Bears 45. Two plays later, Grossman looked deep to Berrian and connected for a 47-yard gain. On the play, with Samuel in coverage, New England challenged that Berrian did not have possession but the play stood.
Turnover number four happened three plays later when Grossman, on third down at the 5-yard line, fumbled the snap. Seymour made his second big play of the day by coming up with the recovery and New England escaped.
This time New England was able to convert as play moved into the second quarter. A huge pass down the middle to Daniel Graham for 25 yards moved the chains to the New England 46. Graham made a beautiful diving catch to come down with the ball. Brady stayed hot two plays later with a 15-yard pick-up to Reche Caldwell who made a sliding catch along the left sideline. From there it was the Laurence Maroney show. He had runs of 6 and 8 yards, caught one for 12 to the Bears 1 and then plowed through the line for the touchdown on the next play.
Chicago answered with a 46-yard field goal and a good mix of run and pass to get into scoring position. Benson had another good run, this one 16 yards, but once inside the Patriots 30, New England stiffened and got good pressure on Grossman on a third and 4 situation forcing an incomplete and the field goal with 4:04 left in the first half.
During that Bears series, Junior Seau was hurt and taken to the locker room with an arm injury.
Both teams traded punts and at the two-minute warning, New England had the ball back after Mike Wright got a hand on the punt by Brad Maynard and the ball only traveled 24 yards to the Patriots 39.
Brady went to the air and hit Kevin Faulk on consecutive plays for gains of 3 and 8 yards. Maroney chipped in with a 9-yard catch and Faulk was good for 6 more yards. With 12 seconds left, Brady looked downfield on third and 10 from the 35. He connected with Watson but after review, it was determined the ball hit the ground. Earlier in the drive a Caldwell 9-yard catch was reviewed and also nullified.
The end of the half came down to a 52-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski that he had two chances to make. On the first attempt which was wide right, Bears head coach Lovie Smith called timeout just before the snap. Given the second life, Gostkowski made good, just sneaking the ball over the crossbar for a 10-3 Patriots lead at the half.
The turnovers continued into the second half, two of them coming on one play. On the Patriots second series of the third quarter, Brady completed what looked like a 23-yard pass to Watson around the Bears 20. From behind, Briggs punched the ball loose and into the air. Caldwell came down with it but he too was stripped by Manning with Manning making the recovery as well.
A roughing call on Charles Tillman, who hit Watson after double-fumble play, gave the Bears first and 10 at their 7. Grossman hit Mushin Muhammed for 18 yards to get some breathing room and then proceeded to start handing off to Jones. Jones ran seven times to the New England 29 but from there, Grossman looked to Clark and Samuel read it perfectly for his second interception of the game.
Three plays later it was yet another turnover. This one went off the fingertips of Troy Brown and got batted around until Tillman grabbed it giving his team first and 10 at the Chicago 47.
Next, a huge and perhaps questionable pass interference call on Artrell Hawkins moved the Bears from their 49 to the Patriots 6. On the play, Hawkins was step for step with Berrian and looked to be making as much a play on the ball, if not more, than Berrian. That's not how the refs saw it and Chicago was first and goal at the Patriots 6.
Four plays later, Benson took it in from 2 yards out to tie the game with 14:53 left to play.
Watson got his chance to make amends on the Patriots next drive and he didn't miss the opportunity. His 40-yard grab gave his team first and 10 at the Bears 26. Three plays later it was Brady of all people making Brian Urlacher look silly has he ran by him en route to an 11-yard gain. The drive ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Watson to give New England back its lead at 17-10.
New England was in excellent shape to force the Bears to give the ball back when Grossman dropped back on third and 7 from his 48 and threw up a prayer under pressure. The ball dropped well short of where Ellis Hobbs and Berrian were downfield. But flags flew and Hobbs was called for pass interference at the 18. Unlike the Hawkins call, there was no question on this one as Hobbs ran into Berrian, blocking him from the ball had it been on target.
New England's D held tough, stopping the Bears in their tracks and forcing another field goal, a 32-yarder to make the score 17-13 with 3:31 left.
An extended drive would end the game but at the same time, New England had to take care of the ball. That didn't stop Brady from opening up with a 22 yard completion to Caldwell up to the Patriots 48. On third and 9 from midfield, it was Caldwell again as Brady got rid of the ball in the face of a Bears blitz for 20 yards. Heath Evans and Dillon runs brought about the two minute warning and a third and 5 from the Bears 25.
When play resumed the call was to Dillon and exactly what the Patriots needed to prevent, happened. Dillon coughed it up and the Bears recovered at the 22-yard line.
With 1:48 left but no timeouts, the Bears needed to make up some quick ground. Grossman immediately looked deep to Rashied Davis but Samuel was in perfect position for his third interception of the game to end the contest.