With a second string quarterback starting the game against a defense that was once one of the best in the NFL, when it had Julius Peppers in the lineup, the Chicago Bears headed east to take on the Carolina Panthers and walked away with a 23-6 win.
This game was quite different from the Bears first four games of the season where they had relied on the passing game. Now, they took and ran the football much more, which lead to their success this Sunday.
Second string quarterback Todd Collins had a horrible outing, throwing four interceptions, but luckily for the Bears, the Panther’s offense couldn’t take advantage of the miscues and Chicago managed to keep Carolina at bay and win the game. It wasn’t pretty but it was effective and it gives the Bears a 4-1 record and the top spot in the NFC North.
The Bears scored first on their first possession of the game as running back Matt Forte took a handoff from Collins and raced 18-yards into the end zone to put the Bears up by seven. The Panthers would answer with a field goal on their first drive of the game, a 24-yarder by John Kasay to make it 7-3.
Forte would answer the call once again (in the first quarter) and would take another Collin’s handoff 68-yards on an outside run for a touchdown putting the Bears up 14-3.
Chicago got their next score and the last score of the half for both teams on a 28-yard Robbie Gould field goal to make it 17-3 going in at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Panthers managed to get the first score of the second half on a 53-yard Kasay field goal to bring the Panthers to within 11. The Bears would get two more field goals from Gould, one from 53 and one from 43-yards to make it 23-6 and win the game.
Stud of the Game
This one is a no-brainer. Forte rushed for a total of 166 yards with two touchdowns and helped carry the offense with Jay Cutler out of the lineup.
The Bears went in with the intention of running the ball and that was clear as they opened up the game with nothing, but running plays to start, which gave them a lot of success. Forte looked great and is one of the Bear’s biggest assets.
Dud of the Game
Collins threw four interceptions in his first game as the Bear’s second string quarterback and just doesn’t look like the kind of player that the Bears need managing the ball.
He overthrew receivers, under threw them, and made some pretty poor decisions overall. Bears fans are surely crossing their fingers in hopes that Cutler is well enough to come back next week against the Seahawks.
The Bears came into this game wanting to run the ball and give Collins some time to throw.
To start the game, the Bears fulfilled their wish and ran the ball more effectively than they had all season. Forte was red hot and really helped set the tone for the Bears early on. Then things got “back to normal” with the Bears as the offense struggled while the defense kept things together.
If there was one thing that could have cost the Bears this victory it was the play of Collins. Collins looked horrid out there throwing passes that were too high, too short or just plain errant. With four interceptions to go along with his poor performance, he almost gave the game away for the Bears.
Thank goodness that the Panther’s offense wasn’t able to take advantage of the miscues and in the end these turnovers didn’t matter that much.
The pass protections still looks pretty rough as there were times when Collins didn’t have enough time to throw the ball (but some of this does have to do with his failure to be mobile) and was pressured.
The offensive line looked like they are still struggling to keep just the opposing team’s front four off of their quarterback, although they improved on containing outside rushers in this game. Perhaps things are finally starting to come together on certain parts of the line.
Speaking of blocking, tight end Brandon Manumaleuna had a pretty decent game. The Bears used him as the lead blocker on a few of the runs by both Forte and Chester Taylor, and it worked out very well. It appears as if he’s finally earning the money that the Bears paid him.
On defense, the Bears played very well not allowing a 100-yard rusher or passer and didn’t suffer any serious breakdowns. Granted, the Panthers got a few rushing yards at the begging of the game, but the Bear’s defense tightened things up and didn’t allow the Panthers to do much after that.
It was a great performance by a unit that is turning out to be one of the best in the NFL.
Special teams also helped the Bears out early in the game. Thanks to Danieal Manning’s big return on the opening kickoff along with Devin Hester’s brig return on a punt (although at the end of that drive Collins threw an interception so the Bears didn’t capitalize on the good field position).
Punter Brad Maynard was also spot on and along with the coverage teams helped to keep the Panther’s pinned on their side of the field.
The Bears will host the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday at Soldier Field. The Seahawks are coming off of a bye week but their last game was a 20-3 loss against the Rams.
Stay tuned for a full preview of this game coming up at the end of the week.