After an abysmal Week 3 showing offensively against the Green Bay Packers last week, Mike Martz needed to draw up a game plan that didn't involve throwing the ball 40+ times. He did just that.
Matt Forte had 25 carries for 205 yards and 1 TD. Forte rattled off 8.5 yards per carry with a long of 46 yards in the 1st quarter. Forte's ability to move the sticks blew the game wide open for the Bears. Last week Cutler slung the ball 40+ times while Forte barely received a carry. It was the other way around this week as Cutler only threw the ball 17 times for 102 yards.
Fans are still seeking a balanced attack but, it could be due in part to the Panthers run defense being below average. Even Marion Barber got some actions against the Panthers with 5 carries for 17 yards. Marion Barber's debut as a Bear will be archived as a failure after he botched a touchdown celebration where he didn't stick the landing on a back flip.
Speaking of flips, Devin Hester became the all-time NFL leader in punt return touchdowns on Sunday. Hester passed Eric Metcalf, with whom he was tied with 10 touchdowns. Hester broke away on a 69 yard punt return touchdown and capped it off by doing 3 somersaults into the endzone. Hester was flagged 15 yards for excessive celebration but, if you're going to get flagged make it count! Hester did just that by making NFL history.
Onto the defense, if there had to be a sore issue in a victory this would be it. The defense gave up 543 yards, 374 passing and 169 rushing. Allowing Cam Newton to throw for 374 yards is worrisome considering the Bears play in a division with Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford. If Cam Newton is picking our defense apart, imagine what Matt Stafford could do. Secondary didn't show up to play and that was evidence. Our cover 2 defense was exploited without starting safety Chris Harris.
Brandon Meriweather continually ventured away from his assignment which allowed Steve Smith to rack up several big catches. Smith accrued 181 yards on 8 catches. On a potential game winning drive for Carolina, Tim Jennings dropped a clinching interception. Luckily Cam Newton would turn the ball over on downs and the Bears would go onto win the game. Had the Bears lost, the media definitely would be poking and prodding the issue of our woes in the secondary. Personally, I screamed an expletive very loud after Tim Jennings dropped that interception.
Outside of the defense allowing Cam Newton to put up great numbers against us, it was a solid victory for the Bears. Matt Forte ran for 205 yards, a new career high. His previous career high came against the Panthers last season when he had 166 yards rushing. Devin Hester made NFL history and, Marion Barber...well...didn't land a back flip and we shared a laugh at his expense. All in all, it was a great day for Chicago Bears football.
The Bears will play the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football next week.