Total yards (416 to 210), time of possession (36 to 23) and third down conversions, (nine to two). Those numbers indicate how badly the Carolina Panthers outplayed the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field.
But the two final numbers that mattered were 23-22, which was the final score in favor of the Bears.
The Bears know they got away with a bad performance. They certainly won’t be able to win many games playing like that against contenders Houston and San Francisco in Week 10 and Week 11.
Kicker Robbie Gould bailed the Bears out with a 41-yard field goal in the closing seconds to give them their sixth win of the season.
QB Jay Cutler struggled mightily in the first half getting sacked six times, losing two fumbles and tossing one interception.
But when he needed to drive the Bears down the field in crunch time he did it with perfection.
His favorite target Brandon Marshall credited him with reason for the turnaround.
“Cutler. That’s when you want that type of quarterback,” said Marshall via Chicagotribune.com. “I looked up at the clock; I think it was around 2:45 left. You just made a field goal. Brought the score 22-20 and he gets up smiling. I’m sitting here shaking, a little bit of the cold weather, a little bit nervous and he just starts smiling like well, here we go and just put me at ease right away and the guys feel that vibe and they play off of it. So, Jay definitely led that hole to that drive and made us pick up our game.”
Cornerback Tim Jennings really helped his team out by reeling in two interceptions, one that was returned for a touchdown to put the Bears up 20-19 late in the final quarter.
Jennings took advantage of a predictable throw by Panthers QB Cam Newton on a pass intended for WR Steve Smith, who slipped on the play. He reeled in the interception and the rest was history.
The Bears’ defense have six defensive touchdowns this season through just seven games. Their only three away from tying the all-time record set by the San Diego Chargers in 1961.
WR Brandon Marshall led the Bears in receiving with nine receptions for 98 yards and really looked sharp on the final scoring drive.
But WR Earl Bennett was the receiver who really got the Bears out of their funk on offense. He had three receptions for 47 yards and helped upstart the struggling offense late in the third quarter.
TE Kellen Davis reeled in his second touchdown pass of the season to make the game 19-14 with 6:52 left in the final quarter.
The Bears outscored the Panthers 16-3 in the final quarter. Cutler finished the game completing 19 of 28 passes for 186 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a QB rating of 83.3.
Opposing quarterback Cam Newton completed 2o of 39 passes for 314 yards, two interceptions and a QB rating of 57.0.
The Bears’ offense played awful after Matt Forte scored on 13-yard run to put them up 7-0 with 4:32 left in the first quarter. Luckily, the Bears’ defense did its part limiting Carolina to just 13 first half points.
None of the three phases played well for the Bears. They were unable to take advantage of the consistently solid field position that they were getting from the Panthers.
This game was scary for Bears fans, but it could make or break the season for the Bears team. They knew this was a game that was very winnable and to know what its like to come back could be a good thing in the long run.
Hopefully the Bears come out of the gate next Sunday in Tennessee executing much smoother on offense.
Three stars of the game:
Robbie Gould: What would the Bears do with out this guy? He missed his first field-goal attempt of 31 yards earlier in the second half, but he came up clutch once again for the Bears. He’s bailed them out of so many games and he did it once again at windy Soldier Field.
Tim Jennings: He has six interceptions on the season. That is triple his previous amount in a season (2). The guy is just a changed man out there and he is really helping this unit live up to their nickname, the “Monsters of the Midway.”
Jay Cutler: He was agitated at his teammates and himself in the first half, but he showed up during the most important part of the game. He led the Bears down the field in the final two minutes to set up the Gould game-winning field goal. That drive could help the Bears take their team to the next level this season.
Honorable mention: Henry Melton, he came up with a big quarterback pressure on the Panthers final scoring drive to stop a touchdown drive.
Around the NFC North:
Minnesota fell to Tampa Bay on Thursday night, 36-17 dropping the Vikings to 5-3 and giving the Bears a two game cushion in the division.
Green Bay won its third straight game, 24-15 against a struggling Jaguars team. The Packers looked average with a bad running game and a lack of depth at wide receiver.
Detroit scored 14 points in the final quarter to edge out Seattle, 28-24. WR Titus Young had a big day reeling in nine passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Chicago Bears (6-1)
Minnesota Vikings (5-3)
Green Bay Packers (5-3)
Detroit Lions (3-4)