Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte is in the record books. With less than two minutes to play in today’s 13-9 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Forte caught his eighth pass of the day. It was his 102nd catch of the season, which is the all-time record for receptions in a single-season by a running back.
“He’s a heck of a player. I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Jay Cutler said. “That’s a heck of a record, that’s a lot of balls. That’s a lot of catches. That’s a lot of production from him. That just kind of tells you the kind of back he is.”
Forte breaks the old record of 101 receptions set by the Cardinals’ Larry Centers in 1995.
“It’s just a credit to him as a player and a person, the way he approaches his craft,” coach Marc Trestman said. “It’s a year-long job with him. He never stops. We have to try and slow him down. He has such unique leadership skills. He hardly says a thing but he can communicate with everybody on the team. He also does that in his actions and his work ethic. I’m incredibly proud and feel privileged to work with him every day.”
Forte said, while the record is nice, he’d trade it for a victory.
“Later on down the road when I look back at my career, it’ll mean a lot more to me,” Forte said.
In fact, Forte’s 102 catches, while outstanding on a personal level, is the result of an ineffective passing attack that relied too heavily on screens and check downs.
“Sometimes we’d line up in a formation that we ran a specific play out of a few more times than we should have. Defenses are smart. They watch film,” said Forte. “At the same time, if you execute the play and do it right, you can still be effective.”
Forte’s record was the lone bright spot during a forgettable season finale, one in which the offense could muster just 264 total yards and nine points.
“He would give it at all up to flip the [team’s] record,” said Trestman.
Trestman said the coaching staff wasn’t cognizant of Forte’s catch count during the game and the fact he ended with just enough receptions to break the record was a coincidence.
“It happened in the natural course of the game,” said Trestman. “I never asked anybody how many catches he had during the game.”
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.