Peterson and Wolfe Need to Step Up

Tailback Cedric Benson was not having a very productive season through nine games, but he finally started to show some life in Week 11 at Seattle and also started strong Sunday against Denver. However, he injured his left ankle on a 21-yard burst against the Broncos and could be done for the year.

The Bears might be without running back Cedric Benson for the remainder of the season after he had to be carted off the field following an ankle injury in the second quarter, but at least they kept their slim playoff hopes alive for another week.

And as long as opponents keep kicking the ball to Devin Hester, the Bears have a chance to win almost any game. His two return touchdowns, one punt and one kickoff, kept the Bears close enough to the Broncos long enough for the sputtering offense to come to life. The 37-34 overtime victory leaves the Bears just one game out of the final NFC playoff slot, despite their 5-6 record.

Quarterback Rex Grossman, coming off two impressive performances, was in danger of reverting to the "Bad Rex" of last season. His passer rating was 29.5 through three quarters, and he had lost two fumbles. But then he completed passes of nine yards to Bernard Berrian, 21 yards to Rashied Davis and 13 yards to Muhsin Muhammad to start the game-tying touchdown drive that ended with a three-yard touchdown to Berrian, who made a diving catch in the end zone along the west sideline with 28 seconds left against seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey. Berrian was so close to being out of bounds that the play had to survive a review before it was officially ruled that his knee landed in.

"I saw that he caught the ball clean," said Grossman in the Soldier Field interview room after the game. "I couldn't tell if his knee was down. It was an amazing catch. The corner didn't bite as much as we thought, but I threw it off his back shoulder and he did a good job of adjusting and pulling it in."

Grossman finished with an adequate 66.9 passer rating, which could have been a lot better were it not for several brutal drops by his receivers. The Bears will probably need to rely more on their quarterback the remainder of the season.

With 12:20 left in the first half, Cedric Benson suffered a left ankle injury at the end of a 21-yard run, was carted off to the locker room and did not return. He left on crutches with his injured ankle in a protective walking boot, finishing with 47 yards on eight carries and a 5.9-yard average. After a slow start in which he averaged just 3.0 yards per carry through the first nine games, Benson picked up 136 yards on 19 carries in the past two games for a 7.1-yard average.

RB Adrian Peterson
Nam Y. Huh/AP Images

Head coach Lovie Smith didn't provide much information on the injury, but he didn't seem very hopeful.

"Whenever you don't finish the game, of course that's not good," Smith said. "He has a pretty good ankle injury."

Adrian Peterson replaced Benson and managed just 45 yards on 17 carries despite some inspired running in close quarters.

"We have confidence in him," Smith said. "He's a good football player. Whenever we've called on him, whether it was [due to] injury or whatever, he's always stepped up to the plate. We feel very comfortable with him, as we do [with] Garrett Wolfe. Garrett gives you a different dimension, so we feel good about both guys."

Peterson also added a team-high five catches for 41 yards and is tied for second on the team with 33 receptions, while Wolfe carried three time for 29 yards. He had just six carries for two yards through the first 10 games.


  • WR Devin Hester scored on a 75-yard punt return and an 88-yard kickoff return for his fourth and fifth return touchdowns of the season, giving him 10 kick-return touchdowns in 27 regular-season NFL games – three short of Brian Mitchell's NFL record. Hester also has a 108-yard TD return of a missed field goal and a kickoff-return TD in Super Bowl XLI.
  • RB Cedric Benson had his second straight impressive performance, but his season may have come to an end because of a left ankle injury suffered on his 21-yard run – his last carry of the day and possibly of the season. Benson (47 yards on eight carries) was carted off when he was unable to put any weight on the injury.
  • RB Adrian Peterson replaced injured starter Cedric Benson and had 45 tough yards on 17 carries. Peterson is a standout special-teams player and tied for second on the Bears with 33 receptions, but he has never carried more than 76 times in a season.
  • WR Bernard Berrian had just three catches for 24 yards, his second-least-productive game of the season, but his three-yard touchdown with 28 seconds left tied the game before the Bears won in overtime.
  • DE Adewale Ogunleye had the Bears' only two sacks of the game, giving him a team-best nine for the season.

  • Is Devin Hester already the greatest return man ever?
  • An interview with running backs coach Tim Spencer
  • Ed "The Claw" Sprinkle: The Oldest Living Bear
  • A look at the autobiography Sayers: My Life and Times
  • Getting to know third-year quarterback Kyle Orton
  • All of that plus much more in the January issue of ...

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