Bears Defense gets Strafed by Panthers

The offense did its job yesterday and the special teams were brilliant, yet the defense's performance put a damper on the good vibe, giving up a whopping 543 total yards to the Carolina Panthers.

For entertainment value, Sunday's 34-29 victory over the Panthers was outstanding, with Matt Forte's explosiveness in the run game, Devin Hester's continued brilliance in the return game and a defensive touchdown.

But it didn't do much to establish the Bears as a playoff contender or a team that can win with its defense, considering it was torched for an embarrassing 543 total yards and was equally ineffective against the run and the pass.

"We're not apologizing at all about this win," Bears coach Lovie Smith said, even before he could be asked. "We feel really good about it."

A loss would have left the 2-2 Bears in an almost inescapable hole in the NFC North, considering the Packers and Lions are both 4-0.


LB Brian Urlacher
Scott Cunningham/Getty

"I don't really care because we won," said linebacker Brian Urlacher. "I'll be (ticked) off when we watch the film. But right now, we won, so it's not a big deal to me."

Maybe it should be, considering the undefeated Lions, quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson are up next.

The Bears were outgained by 226 yards. They didn't sack rookie quarterback Cam Newton once, even though he threw 46 passes and ran eight times for 35 yards, and they couldn't cover wide receiver Steve Smith.

"We weren't completely happy overall with our defense, but just to be able to grind it out and come out with a 'W' at the end it's a little bit more relief," cornerback Tim Jennings said. "But we're not satisfied at all."

They shouldn't be after permitting Newton to throw for 374 yards, Steve Smith to catch eight passes for 181 yards and the Panthers to rush for 169 yards, while averaging 6.5 yards per carry. Carolina came in as the NFL's No. 24 rushing team.

The Bears again didn't do a very good job of protecting quarterback Jay Cutler, who was sacked just once, but that was mostly because offensive coordinator Mike Martz called for just 17 passes.

Cutler had a passer rating of only 46.7 against what should not be mistaken for one of the NFL's better defenses. He completed nine of 17 passes for 102 yards and was intercepted once.

TRENDING: After having a total of just 24 running plays for 73 yards in their two previous games, the Bears ran the ball 31 times for 224 yards on Sunday, their best effort on the ground in more than 23 years. Matt Forte had a career-high 205 yards on 25 carries.TRENDING: After having a total of just 24 running plays for 73 yards in their two previous games, the Bears ran the ball 31 times for 224 yards on Sunday, their best effort on the ground in more than 23 years. Matt Forte had a career-high 205 yards on 25 carries.

LINEUP WATCH: The Bears continued to play musical chairs on the offensive line Sunday, when Lance Louis, who had missed the past two games with a sprained ankle, was forced back into the lineup.

As with most things offensive line related, it wasn't a simple process. Louis first stepped in for right guard Chris Spencer late in the first quarter when he suffered an injury to his right hand. Spencer, who took over when Louis was injured in the season opener, returned to start the second half. At the same time, right tackle Frank Omiyale was benched in favor of Louis, who has never started a game at tackle in the NFL or at San Diego State.


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