CHICAGO — His team desperate for a road win, Russell Wilson had one simple message before overtime.
This is it, this is the season.
If the Seattle Seahawks didn’t save it, they sure gave their playoff hopes a boost.
Wilson threw two late touchdowns, connecting with Sidney Rice for a 13-yard score with 7:33 left in overtime to lift the Seahawks to a wild 23-17 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
“He’s just so beautifully poised and so confident that it gives himself a chance to play at this level,” coach Pete Carroll said of Wilson.
Unbeaten in five home games, the Seahawks finally figured a way to win on the road after dropping five of their first six, and knocked off the NFC North leaders in the process.
“I just told the guys, ‘This is what the season comes down to, right here and right now,’” Wilson said.
A 97-yard touchdown drive late in regulation gave the Seahawks a lead that didn’t last, and they finally won it on Rice’s catch after Chicago’s Robbie Gould sent it into overtime with a field goal.
Seattle (7-5) leads the NFC wild-card chase and, despite its frequent struggles on the road has won three in a row in the regular season at Soldier Field.
This one sure was dramatic.
Seattle took a short-lived lead late in regulation on rookie Wilson’s 14-yard pass to Golden Tate, only to watch Gould boot a 46-yard field goal as time expired to send it into the extra period.
The Seahawks won the coin toss and started with the ball on their 20. They ended this one with one final flourish.
Rice hauled in a pass from Wilson and took a shoulder-to-helmet hit from Major Wright that jarred the ball loose and appeared to knock the receiver unconscious as he lunged into the end zone. Rice stayed down for several minutes but eventually walked off the field, and he insisted afterward he was alert the whole time.
“(Medical personnel) rushed out on the field because I had a couple of concussions before, so they just wanted to make sure everything was fine,” he said.
The touchdown, meanwhile, was upheld after a review, and that gave the Seahawks their only road win other than a victory at Carolina.
“The ball didn’t fall our way in some of the games this year,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “I don’t think we are 1-5 road team. I don’t think we’ve ever been out of the game at the end. I don’t think there was ever a blowout, it always comes down to the last drive, the last play. The football gods were with us today and they helped us out.”
The Seahawks pulled it out even though Marshawn Lynch was held in check with 87 yards rushing. He had a touchdown run in the second quarter, but also fumbled on the game’s opening possession, leading to a score for Chicago.
Wilson threw for 293 yards, ran for 71 and was particularly cool down the stretch, sending Chicago (8-4) to its third loss in four games. That knocked them into a tie with Green Bay for the division lead with the Packers beating Minnesota, and coach Lovie Smith clearly was furious afterward.
“That hasn’t happened to us very often around here,” Smith said. “Terrible job I did getting our football team ready. I thought we were ready to go. Some decisions I made really hurt us early on.”
He was particularly upset at himself for going for it on fourth-and-1 at the 15 early in the second quarter rather than have Gould attempt a field goal with Chicago up 7-0.
Along with that questionable decision, there were more injuries for a team that’s endured its share of late.
Linebacker Brian Urlacher (hamstring) and cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder) were hurt on the winning drive. Receiver Earl Bennett (concussion) and safety Chris Conte (illness) left earlier in the game. The Bears had already ruled out return specialist Devin Hester (concussion) and guard Chris Spencer (knee) after they were injured against Minnesota. Throw in the torn ACL guard Lance Louis suffered against the Vikings, and the Bears were a short-handed bunch.
Even so, they had their chances.
Jay Cutler threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Marshall added 165 yards receiving, but the Bears ultimately came up short.
“We don’t lose many games like that here — as long as I’ve been here and having a lead that late in the fourth quarter,” Cutler said.
They were leading 14-10 when punter Adam Podlesh pinned Seattle on the 3 with 3:40 remaining in regulation. Wilson orchestrated a dramatic drive, capping it with a 14-yard pass to Tate that gave the Seahawks a 17-14 lead with 24 seconds left in regulation.
The Bears weren’t finished, though.
Cutler hit a leaping Marshall with the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas on him for a 56-yarder that put the ball on the Seattle 30. Two plays later, Gould nailed a 46-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.
But with Wilson leading the way, the Seahawks pulled out the win.
Notes: The Bears are now 64-11 under Smith when they go into the fourth quarter with a lead. ... Seahawks G James Carpenter suffered a knee injury. Carroll said X-rays showed no breaks, but he was scheduled for a scan during the week. ... Seattle outgained Chicago 459 yards to 358.