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Bears get denied by Broncos 17-15 in first game for Cutler, Fox against former team


CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears came into this one rolling along, looking to hit the .500 mark and give quarterback Jay Cutler and coach John Fox a win over their former team.

They almost pulled it off.

Jeremy Langford got stopped on a 2-point conversion after running for a touchdown in the closing minute, and the Bears lost 17-15 to the Broncos with Brock Osweiler starting at quarterback for Denver over the injured Peyton Manning on Sunday.

The Bears (4-6) were trailing by eight when Cutler led them on a six-play drive from the Chicago 35 to the Denver 2. Langford ran it in on third-and-1 to make it a two-point game with 24 seconds left. But he got stopped by a crowd with the Broncos ready for the run on the conversion, and Chicago came up short after winning two in a row.

"Any time you don't get it done, there's going to be second-guessing in hindsight — my part, as well," Cutler said. "But we've been in some tight games like this and we haven't got it done in the fourth quarter like we wanted to. You look back at those games and you think what could we have done differently, what throws could I have made, what plays could we have checked out of? So there's definitely going to be that."

Six of the Bears' past seven games have been decided by three points or less, the exception being last week's 37-13 blowout victory at St. Louis.

Chicago sacked Osweiler five times, but the offense came away with just one touchdown despite four trips inside the 20.

Osweiler celebrated his 25th birthday by throwing for 250 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 20 of 27 passes in the first start of his four-year career, while five-time MVP Manning stayed back in Denver because of injuries to his foot, ribs and shoulder.

Ronnie Hillman ran for 102 yards. The AFC West-leading Broncos (8-2) played turnover-free ball and got back to winning after dropping two in a row.

PHOTO: Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Osweiler threw a 48-yard touchdown to Demaryius Thomas on Denver's first possession of the game and a 10-yarder to Cody Latimer early in the fourth quarter to make it 17-9 after Chicago cut the lead to one.

"He does this all of the time in practice, in preseason," linebacker Von Miller said. "I kind of came out here and expected it. What he did is what I expected him to do."

The Bears drove to the Denver 4 after Latimer's touchdown, only to have Cutler's fourth-down pass to Langford in a crowd in the end zone get broken up.

Asked why he went for it rather than kick a field goal, Fox said: "I think we hadn't made many trips down there, and when we had, we hadn't scored touchdowns. It had been kind of a field-goal game. At that point in the game, we felt that was going to be maybe our last opportunity so we were aggressive and came up short on fourth-and-4."

Chicago also came up short in its bid to hit the .500 mark after jumping into playoff contention in the NFC, something few would have expected this season. They are clearly making strides under Fox, who split with Denver in January after leading the Broncos to four first-place finishes in the division and a trip to the Super Bowl.

But Chicago had trouble reaching the end zone against the league's No. 1 defense, even though the Broncos were missing outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (back). The Bears settled for three field goals by Robbie Gould before that late touchdown.

Cutler threw for 265 yards in his first meaningful game against Denver since the trade to Chicago in 2009, even though the Bears were missing running back Matt Forte (knee) and receiver Alshon Jeffery (groin, shoulder). He had an interception and lost a fumble in the fourth quarter with the Bears on the Denver 33.

Cutler got hit by Von Miller as he was throwing and the ball popped up off a lineman before Denver's Malik Jackson cradled it.

NOTES: Bears RB Ka'Deem Carey exited in the third quarter with a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet hit from Denver's T.J. Ward. ... Broncos left guard Evan Mathis limped off the field with an ankle injury in the closing minutes. ... Field judge Rick Patterson left in the fourth quarter with an injury. It was not clear how he was hurt.

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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