If you wanted offensive balance by Mike Martz and the Bears, you didn’t get it on Sunday, but it’s not what you’d think. Matt Forte and the running game were featured early and often, going for 31 rushing attempts compared to just 17 passing attempts by Jay Cutler as the Bears outlasted the upstart Carolina Panthers 34-29 to even their record to 2-2 for the season.
The Panthers offense moved the ball at will against the Bears, amassing 543 yards of offense behind 0ver 400 yards of total offense by Cam Newton. If felt like 2005 all over again as Steve Smith ran circles around the Bears, hauling in 8 passes for 181 yards. At least they kept him out of the end zone, which can’t be said for ex-Bear Greg Olsen who picked up a cheap3-yard touchdown in garbage time.
It looked like the Bears would dominate this game and pull away early. After the teams exchanged field goals on their respective opening drives, the Bears looked to take command with a series of touchdowns from all three phases of the game. First, DJ Moore picked off a tipped Cam Newton pass and returned it 20 yards for the Bears first touchdown of the day. Following a Cam Newton 1-yard touchdown run, set up by a 56-yard bomb to Steve Smith, Devin Hester returned the ensuing kickoff 73 yards. Matt Forte scampered 17-yards for another Bears TD.
The Bears defense shut the Panthers down on the next drive, forcing a punt. Devin Hester did the rest:
That return gave Hester sole possession of the punt return record, moving past Eric Metcalf with 11 punt returns all time and staked the Bears to a 24-10 lead. It should have been smooth sailing for the Bears, but the defense didn’t have an answer for Cam Newton and the Panthers.
More details to follow, including comments for an uncharacteristically quiet day by Jay Cutler and Lovie Smith trying to explain why his defense can’t stop anyone, especially Steve Smith.
My traditional BEAR DOWN signoff will be pink throughout the month of October in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.