CHICAGO - Two swings of the foot by Robbie Gould were all the Chicago Bears needed to offset any shortcomings in Rex Grossman’s arm.
And the Chicago Bears got their first playoff win since 1995, moving them one step from the Super Bowl.
Gould, working construction 16 months ago, cleared a path for the Bears with his strong leg Sunday, kicking a 49-yard field goal in overtime for a 27-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. The game-winner came shortly after Grossman got them in position with a clutch pass to Rashied Davis.
“A year ago I’m pounding nails. Now I’m hitting game-winning kicks and going to the NFC championship game,” Gould said. “I didn’t even watch the end of it. I hit it right where I wanted it to go.”
Where the Bears want to go is their first Super Bowl in 21 years. Chicago will host the Saints next Sunday in the NFC championship game; New Orleans never has been this far.
“We win one game and we’re in the Super Bowl,” Grossman said, “two wins away from having a ring on my finger for the rest of my life.”
Grossman, one of the most scrutinized figures in the football-crazed city for his inconsistent performances, set up the kick with his pass to Davis.
“In every game you’re not going to play perfect. There were several situations where I wish I would’ve had a few plays back, but for the most part I’m pleased,” Grossman said.
Grossman completed 21-of-38 for 282 yards with an interception and a fumble. It was quite an upgrade from his final performance of the regular season, when he had a quarterback rating of 0.0 in a loss to Green Bay.
“I’ve learned that he knows how to bounce back from tough situations,” coach Lovie Smith said of Grossman. “He’s been roasted the past couple weeks over all different kinds of things. He is our quarterback. ... There was a lot of pressure on him and our entire football team and I thought they handled it well.”
The unheralded Davis is a former Arena League player.
“After I got up, I screamed. It was probably the biggest catch I made in my life,” Davis said.
Gould, who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent and is now headed to the Pro Bowl, made his first 24 field goals this season, and 32 of 36 overall.
The Bears had won a division title and earned a first-round bye in their previous two playoff appearances, only to lose their first game at home, so their elation was tinged with relief.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
“It’s hard to say ‘If we had this or that,”’ Alexander said. “It was, ‘Nah we came up short.”
Late in the fourth quarter, the Bears stacked up Alexander on third-and-1 for no gain at the Chicago 44, and the Seahawks decided to go for it. But Matt Hasselbeck bobbled the snap and Lance Briggs threw Alexander for a 2-yard loss, turning the ball over to the Bears with just under two minutes to go.
“If the snap was smooth, I could have run for a TD,” Alexander said. “It was definitely the best I felt all season running the ball.”
After a short completion and two of Grossman’s passes were deflected — one nearly intercepted — the Bears punted.
The Seahawks got the ball at the 20 with 1:38 to go and moved to the Bears 45 before Tank Johnson, whose legal problems have been a headache for his team this season, sacked Hasselbeck.
Davis made his catch when Jordan Babineaux let him get past the line. Babineaux, who also missed an early interception Saturday, hauled down Tony Romo after he bobbled the snap on a field goal attempt in Seattle’s 21-20 victory over Dallas last weekend.
“We had this game,” Babineaux said of Sunday’s disheartening loss. “My job was to reroute the receiver (Davis) and he got behind me real quick. I was supposed to knock him off his route.”
Last year’s NFC champs took their first lead in the third quarter and momentarily silenced the bundled up crown at Soldier Field — temperatures were in the 30s — when Alexander ran up the middle for a 13-yard TD on a third-and-10 to make it 24-21.
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