SAN DIEGO (AP) — Zach Miller leaped, snagged Jay Cutler’s pass with his right hand and tumbled into the end zone.
”Jay made a great throw and I was able to go up and get it. After that, I went unconscious,” Miller said about his game-winning catch with 3:19 left.
Miller’s TD reception and a 2-point conversion run by rookie Jeremy Langford, subbing for the injured Matt Forte, gave the Bears (3-5) their first lead of the night.
Cutler calmly led the Bears on the winning 10-play, 80-yard drive after the Chargers opened a 19-14 lead on rookie Josh Lambo’s 22-yard field goal. Two plays before the TD throw to Miller, Cutler was hit and still completed a 12-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery on third-and-6.
”The safety flew over the top and it was just a matter of waiting for Zach to get past the linebacker,” Cutler said. ”I left it high on him, and he made a heck of a catch. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy. For him to come up with a catch, it was something special.”
Here are some things that stood out in the Bears’ victory:
ANOTHER CLOSE ONE: Chicago’s last five games have been decided by three points or fewer, including consecutive losses to Minnesota and Detroit before the trip to San Diego.
Cutler, who had an interception returned 68 yards for a touchdown by Jason Verrett and lost a fumble, kept attacking San Diego’s depleted secondary, completing 27 of 40 passes for 345 yards.
”We have got to figure out how to win in the fourth quarter,” Cutler said. ”We have talked about it. We’ve won games in the fourth quarter, we’ve lost in the fourth quarter. That’s what the NFL is about. You have to play your best in the fourth quarter, and that’s what coach (John) Fox has talked about. It’s good that it happened today, but we have to continue it.”
RECORD: Cutler’s two TD passes broke the franchise record, giving him 139 with the Bears. He had been tied with Hall of Famer Sid Luckman.
Cutler broke the franchise record for touchdown passes when he found Martellus Bennett for a 1-yard score midway through the second quarter.
Cutler had been tied with Luckman with 137 with the Bears. Cutler began his career with the Broncos. Luckman threw his final touchdown pass as a member of the Bears on Sept. 17, 1950.
BAD BOLTS: San Diego (2-7) lost its fifth straight game for its longest skid since dropping six straight in 2011. It’s the longest losing streak in coach Mike McCoy’s three seasons.
San Diego’s Philip Rivers was 26 of 42 for 280 yards. It was the first time in six games that he didn’t throw for more than 300.
”When you lose five in a row it’s pretty sickening,” Rivers said. ”When it’s like this you kind of want to dig a hole and hid for a little while.”
OOPS: Rivers threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates in the fourth quarter but it was nullified when right guard D.J. Fluker was whistled for being an ineligible receiver downfield. The Chargers had to settle for Lambo’s 22-yard field goal.
Earlier in that drive, wide receiver Stevie Johnson spiked the ball after making a catch for a first down at the 4 and was whistled for delay of game.
INJURIES: Verrett hurt his groin one play after his pick-six and came out, but remained on the sideline. Cornerback Patrick Robinson left with a neck injury.
Wide receiver Malcom Floyd, who is playing his last season, injured his left shoulder while diving trying to make a catch. Eight days earlier, San Diego’s Keenan Allen, one of the NFL’s leading receivers, suffered a season-ending lacerated kidney when he landed hard at the end of a spectacular touchdown catch in a loss at Baltimore.
CHICAGO (AP) — Patrick Kane had a goal and three assists, rookie Artemi Panarin scored twice in the first period and Corey Crawford made 34 saves to lead the Chicago Blackhawks past the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 on Sunday night.