DENVER, NOV. 18 -- To err is human. To forgive is possible for Mike Ditka only if you've redeemed yourself.

The Chicago coach had a sideline tantrum today after Kevin Butler's field goal try at the end of regulation bounced off the left upright. He embraced his kicker after the 16-13 overtime victory over Denver.

Butler drilled a 44-yarder 13:14 into overtime to lift the Bears (9-1) to their sixth straight victory.

"The first one {from 41 yards} missed by inches," Ditka said. "He's entitled."

"Actually," Butler said, "the one in overtime felt worse." The clincher was, indeed, a low, line-drive sailer.

Butler's winning kick was made possible by poor field position endured by Denver (3-7) on three possessions in overtime.

The Broncos won the toss, only to start drives at their 12-, 8- and 4-yard lines. When they couldn't move out of the hole on their last series, Johnny Bailey returned the punt 20 yards to the Denver 34, and Butler converted four plays later.

"Maury Buford did an outstanding job of punting," Ditka said. "We kept them pinned in there, and . . . the only difference in the game was field position."

Ditka was nearly in tears at the end of his media conference after discussing the death Saturday of 11-year-old cancer patient Becky Bell. Ditka and several players had visited the girl in the hospital, and the team had dedicated last week's victory over Atlanta to her.

"We had some added incentive," he said. "We had a dear friend of ours pass away. She will enjoy this one."

The Bears converted two turnovers -- a fumble by Bobby Humphrey on a head-on hit by safety Mark Carrier, and a diving interception off John Elway by linebacker Jim Morrissey -- into 10 third-quarter points to take a 13-6 advantage. It marked the ninth time in 10 games the Broncos had blown a halftime lead this season.

The Broncos, distracted by weeklong bickering between Elway and Coach Dan Reeves and the arrests of three players, nevertheless caught up on a last-ditch drive during which Elway completed five passes.

They made it 13-13 with 1:14 left in regulation on Elway's nine-yard run on a quarterback draw.