Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte took a first-quarter handoff off the left side. TE Matt Speath missed his block up front and LB Derrick Johnson stuck the runner with a blow to the knee. Forte lay on the fresh sod of Soldier Field for a minute after the play, before walking off on his own power.
After the game, he said his knee was sprained. It’s reported to be an MCL sprain. Timetable for recovery from such an injury is 2-4 weeks.
“It’s not a good feeling when you see your star tailback go down with a knee injury,” coach Lovie Smith said after the game. “It’s part of the game. We just have to keep our fingers crossed and hopefully it’s not that serious.”
Forte’s injury comes just two weeks after the team lost Jay Cutler for at least the remainder of the regular season with a broken thumb. In the span of 14 days, Chicago lost its two best offensive players.
RB Matt Forte
“They’re the best players on our team,” said Brian Urlacher. “We had guys step up. Marion [Barber] did a good job. Kahlil [Bell] had a nice run in there. We got to find guys to make the plays, that’s all there is to it.”
Barber rushed for 44 yards on 14 carries and Bell gained 34 yards on four carries. Yet the offense could never find a rhythm once Forte left and ended up scoring just three points on day. They gained just 181 total yards and went 0-11 on third down.
“Anytime you lose your star on offense – we already lost one – and to lose the best one we have, that’s tough on the offense. That’s tough on a team,” said WR Roy Williams.
Williams had a rough game himself, letting a touchdown pass bounce off his hands at the goal line. Chiefs S Jon McGraw intercepted the tipped ball, ending the Bears’ last bid at a game-tying touchdown.
“Those things are going to happen,” said QB Caleb Hanie. “People like to focus on one play in particular that makes or breaks the game. But there’s a lot of different plays you can point at that we should have done better on. It’s just one of those tough breaks right there.”
Hanie struggled all afternoon, especially with his accuracy. He completed 11 of 24 pass attempts for just 131 yards and three interceptions. He missed wide-open receivers for most of the game, including overthrowing Earl Bennett on a touchdown pass in the second quarter.
“[My accuracy was] a little off I guess,” Hanie said. “I would love to have had that one throw to Earl back on the little wheel [route] there in the first half and we had him. Just missed him.”
Smith said that even though Hanie had a bad game, the futility on offense was a group effort. The offensive line gave up pressure all afternoon, resulting in seven sacks.
“He was trying to make plays,” Smith said. “You can’t necessarily blame Caleb for getting rid of the ball. Some of it was protection. Some of it was Caleb. It’s like that whenever you have pressure. It can be a combination of things.”
The Bears were fortunate today that both the Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Falcons both lost. All three teams are 7-5 and in the hunt for the NFC Wild Card. The Detroit Lions sit at 7-4 and face the New Orleans Saints tonight.
Yet it’s going to take a much-improved effort from an offense that is now down its starting quarterback and running back, both of whom were having Pro Bowl seasons.
“Yeah, that’s tough,” said Williams. “We’re in a tough little thing right now.”
Next up for the Bears are the Denver Broncos. Led by Tim Tebow, the team is on fire, having won its fifth straight today.
“Losses are tough to throw away,” said Hanie. “The good thing about the NFL, like I said last week, you hate to keep saying things but it’s a short week and we will have a chance to redeem ourselves next week. So, obviously the production wasn’t there, three points were not good enough. You know I just got to do a better job in getting in the right position and getting the ball to our guys.”
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.