The Chicago Bears defeated the Carolina Panthers 23-22. All it took was some late-game heroics by none other than Pro-Bowler-to-be Tim Jennings. On a cutback route where Steve Smith lost his footing, Jennings cut the route and intercepted Cam Newton for a pick-six. The Bears went for two but Jay Cutler’s pass was intercepted.
After an eventful 4th quarter, Robbie Gould nailed a last-second field goal to put the Bears up one as time expired.
The game did not start out pretty for the Bears as Cutler threw an interception on their first drive. On the Bears’ second possession, they were able to take advantage of generous field position at the Carolina 49 and scored on a Matt Forte rushing touchdown on four plays. Things would then get ugly for Mike Tice and his offensive unit; until the fourth quarter.
The Carolina Panthers would go on to dominate the game on both sides of the ball. The defense, led by Greg Hardy, would record six sacks in the first half along with two forced fumbles on Cutler. The Bears would not convert a third down until nine minutes left in the third quarter.
Cam Newton and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski drew up a solid gameplan against Lovie Smith’s defense. When the Bears were able to get pressure, Newton was able to dump the ball off to Jonathan Stewart for significant yardage. They were also able to convert 10 of 19 third downs, the best percentage they have had all season. On the Panthers’ only touchdown, Cam was able to get in the endzone but had the ball knocked out by Major Wright only to be recovered by Louis Murphy.
Before the half, Newton found himself going down for a sack only to get the ball out and into the hands of Jennings. Greg Olsen was the intended receiver, but Jennings jumped the ball where Olsen sat back. The Bears would not make use of the turnover, as Cutler would get sacked on the second play of the drive and then sacked and fumbled on the third play of the drive. Fortunately, the score was only 13-7 Carolina at half.
Carolina would score six points on their first two possessions in the second half. Cutler would not have more completions than sacks until the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Bears looked like they were able to get on the board again, only to have Gould miss a 33-yard field goal wide right. Things looked bleak, as they had all game, but there was still 12 minutes left in regulation.
The Panthers would be held to a three-and-out and punter Brett Norman would position the Bears only six yards further down the field. On the seventh play of the drive, the tight end known as Kellen Davis made a spectacular catch in the endzone for his second touchdown of the season.
Then, on the next play, Tim Jennings happened. See the opening paragraph for the play summary. The Bears took the lead 20-19.
Ron Rivera and his crew would have one more chance to take the lead, but only ended up with their fifth field goal on the day to take the two-point lead, 22-20. With 2:27 left in the game, Jay Cutler would give his best performance on the day. Completing four passes in a row and 6/7 on the drive to position Gould for a 41-yard field goal that gave the Bears a 23-22 victory as time expired.
The game wasn’t pretty, but it was a win. Smith will take his 6-1 team into Nashville next week to face the Tennessee Titans. Rivera will head his 1-6 squad to Washington.