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Devin Hester celebrates after his history-making 11th career punt return for a touchdown.
Matt Forte and Devin Hester put on a show on Sunday, helping the Bears escape from what could have been a close game with the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field.The Bears won 34-29, boosting their season record to 2-2.
After questions about the Bears running game, Matt Forte ran the ball for a career-high 205 yards. He scored one touchdown, then set Marion Barber up for another TD late in the game with a 46-yard run. The Bears did not use much of a passing offense, as Jay Cutler finished with just 102 yards.
Hester made history in the second quarter. He returned a punt 69 yards for the touchdown, making him the NFL's all-time leader in punt return touchdowns. Earlier in the game, he returned a kickoff to the Panthers 33, giving him 142 return yards on the day.
The defense, on other hand, had a hard time stopping the Panthers rookie QB. He and Steve Smith linked up for a 53-yard bomb that set up a Newton TD. Smith has always done well against the Bears, and he did it again on Sunday, finishing with 181 yards. Newton finished with 374 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
That interception set up an early scoring explosion for the Bears. Brian Urlacher tipped Newton's pass, which was caught by D.J. Moore and returned for a TD. Forte's touchdown followed, and then Hester's record-breaker.
But the Panthers fought back and had to be stopped by big defensive plays in the second half. Julius Peppers blocked a field goal in the third quarter. Late in the fourth, the Bears put the game away with suffoctating defense. The front four put pressure on Newton, Jennings kept Legedu and Naanee from making a catch and then Lance Briggs made a tackle on third down that forced Carolina to go for a 52-yard field goal, which was short.
After the unbalanced offensive displays against the Packers and Saints, the Bears swung the pendulum in the other direction towards the run. It worked this time.
Next, the Bears will head to Detroit to face the hot-handed Lions.