The Panthers outgained Chicago 299-141 in total yardage in the first half, but trailed 24-20 at halftime thanks to some shoddy special teams play against the best returner in NFL history.
Devin Hester had a 73-yard kickoff return to set up one Bears' touchdown, and raced 69 yards for a punt return for a score to give Chicago a two-touchdown lead. Olindo Mare made the touchdown-saving tackle on the kickoff; Panthers punter Jason Baker was not as lucky on his low, line drive kick that gave Hester a lot of running room before the coverage team reached him.
It was Hester's NFL-record 11th career punt return for a touchdown. He already held the record for most overall returns for touchdowns, now at 15.
Cam Newton brought the Panthers within a touchdown with an 8-play drive scoring drive, which he capped with his second short touchdown run of the game. Newton reached for the pylon for a 1-yard score that made it 24-17 with 6:29 left in the first half.
The Panthers drove into Bears...