CHICAGO (AP) — Tom Brady held his breath as he watched the final play unfold from the sideline.
He saw Mitchell Trubisky heave the ball toward the goal line, Kevin White haul it in and a swarming defense keep the ball out of the end zone. That was just enough to preserve another victory for New England.
Brady threw for three touchdowns and the Patriots hung on to beat the Chicago Bears 38-31 Sunday when White got stopped at the 1 on a 54-yard pass from Trubisky.
About four or five defenders swarmed White after he leaped to haul in that long heave and spun toward the goal line. Some Bears players tried to push him across. But he got stopped just short of the goal line, sealing the fourth straight win for New England.
“You hold your breath when I saw him jump up and catch it,” Brady said. “I didn’t have the angle on the goal line. He was getting close to the end zone. They were pushing and we were pushing. It was probably a half yard or a yard, pretty close. Good for us to hold them out.”
Even if the execution wasn’t perfect.
“Just too many people around the ball,” said Josh Gordon, who was in on the play. “I went up to grab it. Somebody else went up to grab it. There was pushing and pulling, everything like that. He ended up with it so it was a great play. ... Fortunately enough, we were able to hold him out of the end zone.”
As for White?
“Just tried to fight and get in,” he said. “Tried to change the game, make a big-time play. So after I caught it, I thought I had a chance, like I said, for a split-second and once I felt a bunch of guys I knew it was over.”
The Patriots (5-2) also got two special teams touchdowns and came out on top even though they were without Rob Gronkowski.
The five-time Pro Bowl tight end missed the game because of ankle and back injuries. But New England squeezed past the Bears (3-3).
UNBEATEN AGAINST BEARS
Brady improved to 5-0 against Chicago, one of five teams yet to beat him. He was 25 of 36 for 277 yards and an interception.
Cordarrelle Patterson ran a kickoff back 95 yards for his sixth career return TD. Kyle Van Noy became the first New England player in 22 years to return a blocked punt for a touchdown.
Gordon caught four passes for 100 yards. He spun past a tackler on a 55-yarder early in the fourth that put the ball on the 1 and set up a 2-yard reception by James White to make it 38-24 with 8:40 left.
White had 57 yards receiving and two TDs. He also ran for a team-high 40 yards.
Julian Edelman had a touchdown catch. Rookie running back Sony Michel left in the second quarter because of a knee injury. But the Patriots beat the Bears for the eighth time in nine games since the 1985 team got routed in the Super Bowl.
Chicago has dropped two in a row after winning three straight to take sole possession of the NFC North lead for the first time since 2013. The Bears’ three losses are by a combined 11 points.
“Coming up 1 yard short and not tying the game and going to overtime, that’s not good enough anymore,” Trubisky said.
Star pass rusher Khalil Mack was largely a non-factor after being listed as questionable because of an ankle injury he suffered last week at Miami, often dropping back in pass coverage. And Trubisky struggled with his accuracy, though coach Matt Nagy didn’t quite see it that way.
“A lot of people were out of rhythm,” he said.
The second-year pro completed 26 of 50 passes for 333 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for a career-high 81 yards and a score.
Trey Burton had nine receptions for a career-high 126 yards, including an 11-yard TD with 4:13 remaining.
Van Noy is the first New England player to return a blocked punt for a TD since Tedy Bruschi against Baltimore in 1996.
He scooped up the ball and returned it 29 yards after Dont’a Hightower blocked Pat O’Donnell’s attempt, giving the Patriots a 31-24 lead with just under six minutes left in the third.
It was also the first blocked punt return for a TD against Chicago since the New York Giants’ Tom Flynn recovered one in the end zone on Sept. 14, 1987.
There were no protests by either team.
Patriots: Michel had to be helped off the field after he got twisted around by Bilal Nichols as he was tackled on the first play of the second quarter. He lost a fumble on the play and needed assistance to get to the sideline. In the previous three games, Michel rushed for 316 yards and four touchdowns.
Patriots: Visit Buffalo on Oct. 29.
Bears: Host the New York Jets on Oct. 28.