Grinding it Out

Chicago – The Panthers came into the matchup with the Bears allowing 81 yards on the ground, but 31 carries later Thomas Jones and Adrian Peterson produced 122 yards and helped control the game.

While RB Peterson had 120 rushing yards and a touchdown last week against the 49ers, he went back to a supporting role against the Panthers and played it to perfection.

With four runs for 37 yards, Peterson himself viewed his role in win over Carolina as being equally important to his career best effort against San Francisco.

"It's all about options," Peterson said. "The philosophy of this offense is to confuse the opponent by giving them as many combinations as possible. Maybe I ran the ball most of the time last week, but now Thomas Jones takes the carries. In my mind, that's just giving our game an added dimension."

Peterson is averaging 6.1 yards per carry and seems to be the every down kind of a back most NFL coaches would love to have in the lineup. Peterson, however, sees himself in a much more modest light.

"I am here to grind out the yards," Peterson said. "I think that is my strength. I have a good burst of speed and I can get through the line well. Also, I've always been good at spotting holes.

"I'm fine with not overdoing the hype or the attention. If the spotlight focuses on Thomas, I have no problem. As long as I can get the job done on a consistent basis, then I know I am helping the team win."

Jones, who sat out last week with sore ribs, carried 25 times for 87 yards against the Panthers. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner liked what he's gotten all season from the running game.

"What I find when I review game film with either Thomas or Adrian running the ball is concentrated every play all out effort," Turner said. "They are hard working players who never hesitate to give 100 percent. They are smart and work well within our game plan. Given the chance, they are unstoppable."

For Turner, much of Jones' and Peterson's recent success has come as a result of the renewed strength of the offensive line.

"I was watching the latter part of the game and wondering how it would have turned out if the o-line we had was on Carolina's side of the ball and visa versa," Turner said. "I think the ability of our guys made a tremendous difference in the effectiveness of our offense. They are communicating and creating things out there. They opened up the holes in the running game, while they gave Kyle the time needed to make good decisions. It's exactly what I had hoped to see as far as execution of our game plan."

The Bears ended the game with a balanced attack of 122 rushing and 136 passing yards. The average gain for each passing play was 4.5 yards with an average gain of 3.9 yards per rush. Not yet Super Bowl caliber statistics, but respectable enough for against a tough Carolina defense.

"It's all coming together and every week, things get better," Turner said. "I will give Kyle a lot of the credit here as well. Just took back to the beginning of the season when Rex went down. That was a time just about everybody said we'd be limping through the season. Kyle took the challenge like a seasoned veteran. Yes, he had a learning curve but each and every game he has shown noticeable improvement. You couldn't ask more than that from your quarterback if he is a veteran or a rookie."

When asked how he felt the Bears would stack up against their next opponent, a strong Tampa Bay team, Peterson smiled with anticipation.

"You know, we have been confident within ourselves all year long so you know I will say I think we'll do just fine. Yes, Tampa has strong offense and we are well aware of their defensive. Their record is proof that they aren't pushovers. But everybody said we'd have to struggle this week against Carolina and things turned out well for us. I see more of the same as we move through the schedule."

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