CHICAGO | The Bears should've gotten points just for returning to the field in the second half Sunday.
That took some nerve.
Trailing much of the game against the lowly Carolina Panthers and the ball at their 34 with 1:58 remaining, Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall led a stomach-churning 23-22 comeback win on Robbie Gould's 41-yard field goal as time expired.
On that final drive, Cutler shook off an otherwise lousy afternoon to connect on 6 of 7 passes, with four going to Marshall for 36 yards.
Gould, who had missed from 33 yards, then nailed his 10th fourth-quarter game winner since 2005.
"It's definitely not easy but it's something I'm used to," he said. "I screwed up early in the fourth quarter. I made a big mistake, a critical error that could have cost our team the game.
"There's no excuse for missing a 33-yarder. I'm glad we got a chance to get another one."
The Bears (6-1) were out-gained 226-49 in total yardage the first half and trailed 13-7 on Louis Murphy's recovery of a Cam Newton end zone fumble and a pair of Justin Medlock field goals.
Medlock booted five in the game to provide most of the offense for Carolina (1-6).
"A win's a win. No one says you win pretty or you win ugly," Gould said. "We got a lot of things to clean up. We'll play better next Sunday (at Tennessee)."
Cutler was abysmal the first 30 minutes with six sacks, two lost fumbles, one interception and a QB rating of 18.1.
But that last drive, he was a grizzly on the prowl.
"I don't think (Carolina) really took anything away from us. We just didn't execute. Things were there," Cutler said of the first half. "I was missing throws, dropped balls, (we) didn't protect well.
"We had a lot of time that last drive. They were playing one coverage and we just kept hitting them and hitting them and hitting them."
Carolina was up 19-7 when Gould's chip shot sailed wide right. But following a 6-yard Panthers' punt, Cutler hooked up with Kellen Davis for a score and Tim Jennings returned a Newton interception 25 yards to make it 20-19, Bears.
Medlock's 45-yarder at 2:27 gave Carolina the lead again, setting the stage for Cutler to redeem himself.
"It's not heartbreaking. It's tiresome, monotonous and a few guys in here are perturbed," said Smith, who had seven catches for 118 yards but slipped on Jennings' pick.
Five of Carolina's six losses are by six points or less.
"We're beyond heartbreak," Smith said. "We're getting upset now."