With Jay Cutler out, the Bears needed to find different offensive options. A strong running game and exceptional special teams play were key to the Bears' win on Sunday. It was also crucial to limit the heavy lifting of Todd Collins. This was exemplified in the opening drive, which featured Danieal Manning, Matt Forte and Collins all doing what they do best.
Opening kickoff, Manning brought a line drive kick back 62 yards: This set up the Bears offense on the Carolina 38-yard line. Manning has quietly contributed 328 kickoff return yards this year.
Forte rushed to the left for 1 yard gain: This is the moment where Bears fans muttered to themselves, "Oh, great. More of the same from Forte." He was unable to find a hole to gain even short yardage.
Forte rushed to the right for 14 yard gain: When the center of the field didn't open for Forte on his first try, he swept to the outside, turned the corner, and got the Bears a first down. Those muttering Bears fans were quieted.
Todd Collins passed to D. Hester to the left for 5 yard gain: One of the six completions that Collins made on Sunday got the Bears into the red zone. Collins threw to the heavily-covered Hester, who was tackled immediately after making the catch. It didn't get the first down, but that didn't matter, because the Bears returned to the more effective run on the next play.
Forte rushed to the left for 18 yard touchdown: On his third attempt of the game, Forte beat Panther Jon Beason in a footrace to the end zone, scoring the first rushing touchdown of the season for the Bears. He would go on to run 166 yards in this game, reminding Bears fans of the rookie season when he ran for more than 1200.
The win was far from perfect, but it did involve Forte as a running back and showed that he can be effective. He took advantage of the short field provided by Manning, marching the Bears up the field with medium-yardage gains. Even when Cutler comes back, Forte proved himself to be a reliable option for the Bears.