Devin Hester's absence is always a big deal for the Chicago Bears, but it seemed a lot less of a huge deal with the Bears defense swarming (admittedly, the Panthers poor play wasn't helping) and Chicago nursing a 17-6 halftime lead. Matt Forte is rolling, Kyle Orton looked pretty good. You know, all normal Sunday stuff.
But suddenly, Chris Harris caused a huge fumble, the Panthers offensive line started road grading and Jonathan Stewart found the end zone for his first career score to draw the Panthers within four points of the Bears.
And now, Hester's absence, as reported by the FOX sideline crew, matters a whole helluva lot. Hester hasn't done a whole lot, returning three kicks for an average of 21.7 yards per pop and two punts for 4.5 each. So, yeah, the Cats got lucky.
And now he's out for a game in which Dante Wesley is fielding punts inside the 10 yard line and attempting to return them in the face of four or five defenders without much success. So yeah, needless to say, there's been a slight shift in momentum.