Despite a generally disappointing offensive performance, running back Matt Forte put up some impressive numbers and cracked some significant milestones against the Packers in the season finale. His strong play down the stretch could make Forte the key to the Bears' playoff success.
Forte surpassed the 1,000-yard barrier on his third carry Sunday, when he bolted up the middle for 25 yards, and he tacked on 21 more on the next play. He also had a game-high eight receptions for 60 yards, pushing him to 547 receiving yards for the season and joining a Bears club that only he and Walter Payton belong to: 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in the same season.
"You always look forward as a running back to getting over 1,000 yards," said Forte, who finished with 91 yards on 15 carries for a 6.1-yard average. "But when you can add 500 receiving and be mentioned among Walter Payton, that's different. I've been blessed to be healthy this whole year. The offensive line did a great job, and hopefully we keep it going."
While the passing game was a disappointment against the Packers, Forte provided hope that the ground game will be there when it's needed in the playoffs, when it figures to be even more crucial.
"It's especially important if you're playing at home when it's cold," said Forte, whose first NFL playoff game will be Jan. 16 at Soldier Field, where it's expected to be chilly. "Running the ball is key to this offense. Running and passing go hand in hand."
After rushing for 1,238 yards and averaging 3.9 yards per carry as a rookie in 2008, Forte slumped to 929 yards last year and a 3.6-yard average. But he enjoyed a bounce-back season this year with 1,069 yards and a career-best 4.4-yard average.
If not for a slow start, when the Bears ran the ball as a team fewer than 20 times in five of the first seven games, Forte might have put up even more impressive numbers.
"Yeah, there's no telling," he said. "If we would have ran it a little earlier, I might have 1,500, 1,600 yards. But you can't think about what-ifs right now."
Bear Report: The only publication exclusively dedicated to your Chicago Bears.
Healthy Forte Has Memorable Season
Bear Report Top Stories
Bears Rookie Review: S Deon BushA detailed examination of Chicago Bears fourth-round S Deon Bush, a hard-hitting back-end player who started six games his rookie season.
Bear Report11:33 AM
AFC Championship preview: Rich with ringsThe AFC Championship on Sunday evening provides two teams rich in Super Bowl history and loaded with talent and experience at quarterback.
Scout NFL Network10:02 AM
NFC Championship preview: Aerial mastery?Elite quarterbacks facing shaky secondaries should result in an aerial assault in the NFC Championship.
Scout NFL Network8:37 AM
Bears to carry over $8.1 million in cap spaceThe Chicago Bears will roll over more than $8.1 million in cap space to be used next year, which is the eighth highest "carryover" amount in the NFL.
Scout NFL NetworkYesterday at 10:01 AM
Bears won't see Deshaun Watson at Senior BowlClemson QB Deshaun Watson has declined his invitation to the 2017 Senior Bowl, meaning the Chicago Bears coaching staff won't get an up-close look at a player they may select with…
Bear ReportYesterday at 9:34 AM