CHICAGO — The Broncos snapped a two-game losing streak Sunday, holding off the Chicago Bears, 17-15, at Soldier Field in a defensive struggle and the first career win for quarterback Brock Osweiler.
Osweiler threw two touchdown passes, including a 10-yard strike to Cody Latimer in the fourth quarter, as the Broncos improved to 8-2.
Osweiler was efficient with the offense on his 25th birthday, completing 20 of 27 passes for 250 yards. The Broncos’ running game was clicking on all cylinders, accounting for 170 yards led by 102 yards on 21 carries by Ronnie Hillman. And more important, the Broncos didn’t turn over the ball for the first time in a game this season, which made a huge difference.
The Broncos defense was outstanding as usual, getting two interceptions and keeping Chicago out of the end zone until the final half-minute.
But after Chicago got within 17-15 with 24 seconds to play on a touchdown by Jeremy Langford, the Bears tried to have Langford run the ball on the two-point conversion. But the defense rose up, stopping Langford short, then recovering the onside kick.
The defense also got a big stop on fourth down when the Bears decided to go for it with 10 minutes to play.
Relive the game below as it unfolded.
The Broncos return home next Sunday night to play the currently unbeaten New England Patriots, who play the Buffalo Bills on Monday night.
After the defense forced the Bears into a three-and-out, the Broncos moved quickly on their first offensive possession.
Ronnie Hillman had a nice 15-yard run, then Osweiler found Demaryius Thomas wide open over the middle. Thomas broke a couple of tackles and went 48 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Broncos lead with 12:14 left in the first quarter.
After the Broncos were forced to punt, the Bears went 58 yards in 10 plays, getting a 46-yard field goal from Robbie Gould to cut the Broncos’ lead to 7-3 with 10:32 left in the first half.
After the Broncos had to punt again, quarterback Jay Cutler directed the Bears on a seven-play, 50-yard drive that included a 38-yard pass to Joshua Bellamy as Aqib Talib got beat on the play.
But the defense held, and the Bears had to settle for a 37-yard field goal from Gould to cut the Broncos’ lead to 7-6 with 6:13 left in the first half.
The Broncos got the ball back at their 12-yard line with 3:40 to play in the first half when the offense started to get going. A 15-yard pass from Osweiler to Vernon Davis got the Broncos into Bears territory and Osweiler had seven consecutive completions as the Broncos reached the Chicago 20.
Osweiler scrambled to the 15-yard line with 16 seconds left in the half, then found Davis over the middle for a 9-yard gain and a first down. But Osweiler threw incomplete on first down and Brandon McManus made a 24-yard field on the last play of the half to give the Broncos a 10-6 lead.
Osweiler finished the first half 13 of 17 for 144 yards and unlike the past two games, the Broncos did not commit a turnover. They also rushed for 81 yards, more than they have had in all but three of their games this season.
The Broncos also got a lot more balance in possession, with Chicago having the ball for 15:23 to the Broncos’ 14:47. And the Denver defense held Chicago to 159 yards.
After three punts to start the second half, Broncos linebcker Danny Trevathan intercepted Cutler and returned the ball to the Chicago 25-yard line. It was the first interception for the Broncos in four games.
But the Broncos came up empty as Hillman got tangled up with Osweiler’s feet and came up short on fourth-and-1 at the Chicago 2.
The Bears then drove 79 yards in eight plays, getting a 29-yard pass interference penalty and settling for a 37-yard field goal from Gould to cut the Broncos’ lead to 10-9 with 49 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Broncos responded by going 71 yards in 10 plays, with Osweiler hitting Cody Latimer on a 10-yard pass on third-and-8 for a touchdown to make it 17-9 with 11:42 to play. It was Latimer’s first career touchdown.
The Bears quickly moved down field, aided by a personal foul penalty by T.J. Ward. But the drive stalled at the Broncos 4-yard line when Fox decided to go for it, but Cutler’s pass was knocked down and the Broncos kept their eight-point lead with 10 minutes to play.
The Broncos milked nearly six minutes off the clock before having to punt, giving the Bears the ball at their 24-yard line. Chicago moved into Broncos territory on a 26-yard pass interference penalty by Talib with 2:30 to play.
But on the next play, Von Miller rushed in and forced Cutler to throw an errant pass that was intercepted by Malik Jackson with 2:23 left.
Chicago forced a three-and-out and got the ball at its 35-yard line. Cutler then drove to the Broncos’ 29-yard line with less than a minute to play. On the next play, Bradley Roby was called for pass interference, setting up the Bears at the Broncos 11.
With 24 seconds to play, Jeremy Langford scored on a 2-yard run to cut it to 17-15. The Bears had to go for two on the conversion, but Langford didn’t make it, getting tackled by T.J. Ward well short of the end zone.
The Bears tried an onside kick, but Thomas recovered and the Broncos held on for the win.