CHICAGO — Brock Osweiler sure looked ready to step in for Peyton Manning. The question is whether this is a short-term fix or long-term solution.
Osweiler threw for two touchdowns while subbing for the injured Manning, and the Denver Broncos stopped Jeremy Langford on a two-point conversion after he ran for a touchdown in the final minute to beat the Chicago Bears 17-15 Sunday.
"Obviously, being named a starter for this football game was a dream come true," Osweiler said. "But like I told you guys, I put all of that behind me on Monday night and just focused on playing football and getting the job done."
After back-to-back losses to Indianapolis and Kansas City, Denver got back to winning against a team contending for an NFC playoff spot. With Tom Brady and the New England Patriots visiting next week, that was just what the Broncos (8-2) needed.
Sure, they barely prevailed in this one, stopping Langford on the conversion after he plowed in from the 2 to make it a two-point game with 24 seconds left.
But the Broncos also had to be breathing a little easier after Osweiler showed he just might be able to step in for Manning on a long-term basis.
The Bears (4-6), meanwhile, came up short in their bid to reach the .500 mark after winning two in a row.
Here are some things we learned from the Broncos' win over the Bears:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Osweiler had a neat 25th birthday.
All he did was complete 20 of 27 passes for 250 yards while five-time MVP Manning stayed back in Denver because of injuries to his foot, ribs and shoulder. He also kept his poise despite being sacked five times by an aggressive defense.
Osweiler wasted no time asserting himself with a 48-yard touchdown to Demaryius Thomas on Denver's first possession of the game. He also threw 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."
SEEING RED: The Bears again had trouble reaching the end zone, with one touchdown on just four trips inside the 20.
That's been a season-long issue for a team that came in 28th at scoring touchdowns inside the red zone.
"We've had some red zone problems throughout the year," Cutler said. "We've got to look at that. In the red zone everything is a little bit tighter, everything is a little bit quicker."
STRIKING EARLY: Opponents continue to score early on the Bears. For the third consecutive game, the Bears defense gave up a touchdown on its first series.
GROUND GAINS: With a first-time starter at quarterback, the Broncos put more emphasis on the run and set season highs for yards rushing (170) and attempts (36).
"We had some really big drives out of the hole that maybe weren't points for us but really changed the field position of the game," coach Gary Kubiak said. "If we were better at short yardage today, we maybe could have closed the game."
Ronnie Hillman carried a season-high 21 times for 102 yards.
GETTING HEALTHY: The Bears got some starters back. They were still missing some of their top playmakers on offense.
Star running back Matt Forte missed his third game because of a knee injury, while top receiver Alshon Jeffery (groin, shoulder) missed his fifth game of the season after playing last week.
Receiver Eddie Royal (knee) sat out his third in a row. But center Hroniss Grasu returned after missing three games with a neck injury. And linebacker Pernell McPhee was back after missing last week's game.