The Headline: The Bears defense and special teams comes up big in win against the Panthers
The Story: The Carolina Panthers could not stop the Bears rushing attack. Chicago got it going on the ground and continued to pound the Panthers defense throughout the game. Matt Forte had been asking for more carries, and he got them in this game. They went to the big running back 25 times, and he delivered with over 200 yards rushing. As a team, the Bears averaged 7.2 yards per rush in this game. Carolina’s defense has had trouble stopping the run this season, and that weakness continued to be a problem against the Bears today.
The Panthers also did not help themselves with turnovers and missed opportunities to extend drives on third downs. For instance, Cam Newton played a pretty good game overall, but his one slip-up was an interception that was returned by D.J. Moore for a 20-yard touchdown. This was one of the two non-offensive touchdowns that the Bears scored. The other was an electrifying 69-yard punt return touchdown, by the one and only, Devin Hester. With that return, he broke Eric Metclaf’s record for the most all-time punt return touchdowns with 11. That guy is simply amazing and has the chance to take it to the house any time he touches the ball. He also had a 73-yard kickoff return that set up a very short drive for Chicago, which was capped off by a Matt Forte 17-yard touchdown.
Offensively, the Panthers played well but failed to keep their drives alive. They managed to only convert 17% of their third downs (2-12 on third downs). Cam had another huge day statistically throwing and running the football. He accounted for over 400 total yards and achieved an 83.1 QB rating. His greatest asset, Steve Smith had a great day amassing 181 receiving yards with 8 receptions. However, this would not be enough to overcome the Bears.
Devin Hester - 69 yard punt return TD
X-Factor: Devin Hester. 69-yard punt return touchdown. 73-yard kickoff return. His ability to score on special teams and set up good field position for the Bears offense is invaluable. No one can account for or imitate his acceleration to get up field or his speed to break away from defenders.
Offensive Player of the Game: Matt Forte, 25 rushes, 205 yards, 1 touchdown
Defensive Player of the Game: D.J. Moore, 2 tackles, 2 passes deflected, 1 INT TD
What’s Next: The Carolina Panthers will continue through the toughest stretch of their schedule and will head into Atlanta next week to take on the Atlanta Falcons. This will be a tough game against a division rival. However, It should serve as a good measuring stick for the young team.
Similarly, the Chicago Bears have a few division foes coming up as well. They will go to Detroit next week to take on the undefeated Lions. That game should be very entertaining to watch, as Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson have quickly become one of the best QB-WR tandems in the league. After that, the Bears will face the Minnesota Vikings, who have yet to win a game this season.