When the Chicago Bears hosted the Carolina Panthers on October 28, the match-up featured two teams going in opposite directions. At 5-1, the Bears own of the best records in the conference and had won their last four games. Meanwhile, the Panthers had dropped their last five games and recently fired GM Marty Hurner in light of the team's downward spiral. Despite the disparity between the two clubs, I predicted the game would be a lot closer than what most people expected. Little did I know how accurate that assessment would be.
Carolina dominated the game for three quarters and led 19-7 in the fourth quarter. At that point, I thought the game was pretty much over, but the Bears turned things around in a big way. Jay Cutler connected with Kellen Davis on a 12-yard touchdown pass, to trim the deficit to 19-14. On the Panthers' next possession, Tim Jennings returned Cam Newton's pass for a touchdown, giving the Bears a 20-19 lead. The Panthers reclaimed the lead at 22-20 with a little over two minutes remaining. After Chicago moved the ball 55 yards, Robbie Gould kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired, giving the Bears a 23-22 victory, extending their winning streak to five games. Here are my thoughts on how the Bears played offensively and defensively.
Offense - C:
The offense did not play too well in this game. Our offensive line gave up six sacks and turned the ball over twice in the first half. Matt Forte was the lone bright spot for the offense during the first 30 minutes, but he was held in check for most of the second half. Brandon Marshall was a key factor in the second half, recording his six of nine catches for 60 yards, He finished with nine grabs for 98 yards. While the offense did just enough to help pull out a victory, once again, this unit got off to another slow start.
Defense - B-:
The defense was not as dominant as fans have grown accustomed to. The Panthers accumulated 416 yards for the game, including 226 yards in the first half. Cam Newton threw for over 300 yards and Steve Smith caught seven passes for 118 yards. In addition to that, the Panthers did not go three-and-out until early in the fourth quarter. However, the defense does deserve credit for keeping the Panthers' offense out of the end zone in the second half and forcing the key turnover that gave the Bears their first lead of the game at 20-19.
If you are a fan, you may only be concerned with the fact that the Bears won the game. At the same token though, we cannot ignore the fact that the offense has not carried its share of the load this season. As well as the defense has been playing, this unit will surrender yards and points if they are forced to spend extended periods of time on the field. While this kind of performance was good enough to beat the Panthers this week and possibly the Tennessee Titans next week, the offense will need to play more consistently if the Bears are going to have the same level of success in the second half of the year.
James Tillman III is a resident of the Chicago-land area, who has followed the Bears for more than 20 seasons. James is also a Featured Sports Contributor for Yahoo! Network and a Sports Journalist for Sports Rantz Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @jtillman9693
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