• 59°

Fluke plays give Bears OT win over Browns

The Associated Press

CHICAGO – Mike Brown’s first reaction when he saw the ball floating in the air was: ”I can’t believe it.

Monday, November 05, 2001

CHICAGO – Mike Brown’s first reaction when he saw the ball floating in the air was: ”I can’t believe it. Here we go again.”

For the second straight week, Brown grabbed an overtime interception and lugged it to the end zone, giving the first-place Chicago Bears another improbable comeback win and setting off a wild celebration at Soldier Field.

Brown’s 16-yard return beat the Cleveland Browns 27-21 Sunday and extended the Bears’ winning streak to six games.

The Browns (4-3) appeared to have the game under control before the Bears scored two touchdowns in the final 28 seconds of regulation, tying the game on a 34-yard desperation pass from Shane Matthews to James Allen on the final play.

”I’ve never felt this bad after a game. When you’re up 21-7 with 30 seconds to go, you feel like you’ve got the game won,” Browns quarterback Tim Couch said.

Brown returned an interception 33 yards in overtime a week earlier to beat the 49ers 37-31 after the Bears rallied from a 19-point deficit.

Then he got the chance to do it again.

”I don’t know what to say. A higher power, luck, destiny, whatever you call it,” he said.

Allen’s TD catch – three plays after Chicago’s Bobby Howard recovered an onside kick – came as Browns defenders tried to bat the ball down and his teammates tried to tip it.

”You’ve got to visualize that if the ball is tipped, you’ve got to make the play,” said Allen, who caught the ball as he fell on teammate Marty Booker.

”I try to go down as fast as I can and let them focus on the other guys and play the tip. I knew I would catch the ball because their guys can’t jump with our guys.”

Cleveland’s Percy Ellsworth was one of several Browns in the end zone trying to bat the pass down, vying with several Bears, including Booker and rookie David Terrell. The ball ended up going to Allen instead.

”I’m the designated jumper. If I jump, they’re going to jump and it’s tough to get a clean pick. If I’m going to knock it down, I have to knock it down somewhere,” Ellsworth said.

The Bears couldn’t move after getting the ball first in overtime, and Brad Maynard’s 52-yard punt pinned the Browns to their 12.

On a second down from the 23, Couch’s pass was tipped by Bryan Robinson, and Brown was there again.

”I didn’t know it was tipped for a second,” Couch said. ”I just looked up and it seemed the ball was up in the air forever. Then I looked up and Brown is running into the end zone, just like last week.”

The Bears cut the lead to 21-14 on Matthews’ 9-yard pass to Booker with 28 seconds left before Jerry Azumah tipped and Howard recovered the onside kick after a scrum that lasted a couple of minutes.

The Browns defense was dominating for much of the game, getting a fumble return for a TD from Courtney Brown on the second scrimmage play, intercepting three passes and sacking Matthews five times.

Couch threw a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes, one a 55-yarder to Kevin Johnson that was tipped by Brown.

But the Bears came from behind again with everything falling in place – the onside kick, Allen’s catch and Brown’s return.

”It’s unbelievable, I’ll tell you. There are no words for it,” Booker said, shaking his head. ”Two weeks in a row. Somebody’s looking out for us.”

Notes: The Browns lost veteran defensive end Keith McKenzie, who broke his ankle in the first quarter. … Matthews passed for a career-high 357 yards, completing 30 of 50 passes. Couch was 14-of-23 for 211. … Courtney Brown also had three sacks in his first game of the season after missing the first six with a knee injury. … The Browns now have 16 interceptions. … The Bears have won six straight for the first time since 1990.