Bears play the role of comeback kids to beat Panthers

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Photo caption: Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould (9) makes the winning 41-yard field goal as time expires to defeat the Carolina Panthers 23-22 in an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it. Those were the sentiments around Soldier Field Sunday afternoon when the Bears needed a last second field goal from Robbie Gould to pull out a victory by the slimmest of margins against the Carolina Panthers, winning 23-22.

The Bears will now move on to LP Field in Tennessee next Sunday to play the Titans, who are coming off a 19-13 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

The offense looked awful in the first half, with the exception of running back Matt Forte, who started the game with four rushes for 44 yards. On the first drive, Jay Cutler was sacked and threw an interception to Panthers cornerback Josh Norman on a ball that was intended for Brandon Marshall to give the Panthers added motivation.

In the second possession, Matt Forte ended the drive with a 13-yard run for a touchdown, giving the Bears a lead that would soon be erased by the Panthers, who went into the half leading, 13-7.

Following a fumble recovery touchdown by Panthers wide receiver Louis Murphy and four field goals, Carolina looked to be in control until the Bears scored two touchdowns in a matter of 8 seconds – one a 12 yard touchdown pass to Kellen Davis and the other an interception return for Tim Jennings, who had two interceptions, bringing his season total to six.

With the Bears down by two, following a failed 2-point conversion and a Panthers field goal, Jay Cutler led the team to a 55-yard drive that was capped by a Robbie Gould field goal.

“You have to give the Carolina Panthers a lot of credit,” said Bears head coach Lovie Smith. “Ron Rivera had them ready to play. They came in and played hard like they’ve been playing all year. A lot of things that went wrong for us early on was more of what they were doing.”

Tim Jennings was tasked with keeping up with Carolina’s go-to threat Steve Smith, but managed to keep him out of the end zone.

“He’s a Pro Bowl receiver,” Jennings said about Smith. “He’s been doing this for a while, he’s going to make some plays. I had to step up to the challenge and minimize his ability.”

Jay Cutler ended the game with 186 yards passing, completing 19 of 28 with one interception. After hearing boos from the crowd, Cutler acknowledged that the team was deserving of the fans’ disappointment.

“I’d boo us too,” Cutler said. “I told those guys it was a boo-worthy performance if you will. It was pathetic
offensively what we put out there. It wasn’t up to standard, product-wise. We have to get better, we know that, our fans know that. Luckily enough we got out of there with a win but the first half is nothing to be proud of.”

The Bears are now on a six-game winning streak, which is the longest since a five-game streak that was seen last season before injuries hobbled the team.

Follow Royce on Twitter @IfFansCouldTalk

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