Morning Box Score: Bears Survive Collins Era
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Oct 11, 2010 3:00PM
The Bears found lightning in a bottle in the first quarter, rediscovered their running game and survived a awful effort by backup quarterback Todd Collins to beat the winless Carolina Panthers 23-6 on Sunday and improve to 4-1 on the season.
Thanks to Danieal Manning's 62-yard return of the game's opening kickoff, the Bears took advantage of the short field to score a touchdown less than two minutes into the game. Matt Forte had runs of 14 yards and 18 yards, which set the tone for the Bears' offense on Sunday. On their next possession, Forte broke free for a career-long 68 yard run to give the Bears a 14-3 lead as he surpassed 100 yards rushing in the first quarter. The Bears white hot play continued as Julius Peppers, playing against his former team, batted a Jimmy Clausen pass in the air and then came down with the interception to set up a Robbie Gould field goal. Again showing the punt return prowess that made teams fear him a couple years back, Devin Hester scrambled up the sideline for 50 yards before getting knocked out of bounds in the red zone. Chester Taylor got the ball down to the one before the Bears goal line troubles returned. Before they had a chance to blow it on fourth down, Collins threw an interception in the end zone.
That play seemed to shift the momentum, as the Bears offense stalled out for the rest of the game. Collins threw three more interceptions during a horrific outing before finally giving way to Caleb Hanie. Collins finished his day by completing just 6 of 16 passes for 26 yards and the 4 picks. Fortunately for the Bears, their running game had its best performance since 1990 with 218 yards on the ground. Forte's 166 were a career best.
Defensively, the Bears played another excellent game and contained another opponent by limiting the Panthers to just six points and 147 yards of total offense. The defense sacked Carolina's rookie QB Clausen five times -- three by Israel Idonije -- and intercepted him three times, while forcing seven three-and-out possessions. Carolina's only sustained drive was their first possession, which resulted in a field goal. Their only other points came on 53-yard field goal by John Kasay on a possession where the Panthers began in Bears territory. The Bears similarly used excellent field position to tack on two late field goals.
The Bears lucked out that this game happened to be against one of the league's worst teams, with Jay Cutler on the bench recovering from a concussion. While the win seemed to be a convincing one, the total lack of a passing attack without Cutler could have spelled big trouble against many opponents. It was yet another win that could only be described as ugly. And yet the Bears are now 4-1, tied with Atlanta for the best record in the NFC. They host the 2-2 Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field next Sunday, and all signs point to Cutler returning to action.