The Bears brought back their running game on Sunday and it was just the medicine they needed for a 34-29 win over Carolina.
The Panthers jumped on the board first with a field goal on their first drive. The Bears did the same and it was soon a 3-3 game. Chicago took the lead after D.J. Moore intercepted Panther quarterback Cam Newton with 3:30 remaining in the first quarter.
Running back Matt Forte had his eighth 100-yard plus game and with his 205 yards for the day, it was a career high. Forte got a touchdown in the second quarter after getting set up by Devin Hester with a 73-yard kickoff return.
The Bears took a 17-10 lead. Next up? The NFL-record touchdown by Hester.
Hester caught the punt from Carolina’s Jason Baker and took it up the sideline for a 69-yard run, scoring a touchdown to give the Bears a 24-10 lead at the 11:50 mark in the second quarter. Hester also grabbed the NFL record for 11 punt-return touchdowns.
In addition to today’s record, Hester also has a career 39 punt returns of 20 yards or more, which is the most in the NFL since No. 23 entered the league in 2006. He holds the record as the leader for combined touchdowns on kick returns with 15.
The Bears entered halftime leading 24-20.
It was close but the third quarter was scoreless. Carolina attempted to pull within one but ex-Panther Julius Peppers blocked a field goal attempt and the Bears held onto their four-point lead even after the Panthers closed the quarter with a drive placing them in field goal range.
However, the fourth quarter opened and Carolina grabbed that field goal to make it a 24-23 game.
The Bears first turnover came in their first possession of the fourth quarter. Cutler threw a pick but fortunately the Panthers were unable to score after they got hit with a penalty and their field goal kicker missed.
Chicago dodged a bullet on that one.
With 6:45 remaining in the game, the Bears finally scored with a 24-yard field goal by Robbie Gould; they took a four-point lead, 27-23.
Adding to the Bears success in the running game was the return of Marion Barber. He was a great contributor and put the nail in the coffin for the game with a touchdown at the 1:23 mark; it was his first one as a Bear.
Good to have him back.
Carolina scored one final touchdown with four seconds remaining by ex-Bear Greg Olsen.
With the running game back in full force, Cutler was 9 for 17 with 102 yards. He had a passer rating of 46.7.
The Panther’s quarterback was another story. Newton appears to be the real deal and he has a great connection with wide receiver Steve Smith. For the day, Newton was 27 for 46, 374 yards and one touchdown.
The Bears are now 2-2. Sunday’s game should give them a boost of confidence but they still have problems. They’ll play up and coming division rival, the Detroit Lions on Monday Night.
That should be a tough game.
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Written by Debbie Baratz