Week 19 Game Recap: Carolina Panthers 29, Chicago Bears 21
What you need to know
WR Steve Smith combined for 244 total yards and two touchdowns posting eye-popping numbers against the Bears for the second time this season. Smith was targeted play after play at the line of scrimmage with quick hitches and wide receiver screens pulling up the cornerbacks, and then blowing by them for longer gains down field.
RB DeShaun Foster ran hard and showed the same combination of quickness and power that weíve seen the past few weeks. However, the Chicago defense didnít give him much room to run. Foster left the game early in the third quarter with a broken ankle. Backup RB Nick Goings replaced him and presumably will be the featured running back next week in Seattle.
QB Jake Delhomme was sharp and efficient making plays and keeping drives alive in the face of a heavy pass rush. Delhomme threw for three touchdown passes and 318 yards passing while leading the Panthers on seven drives of at least 40 yards.
QB Rex Grossman flashed potential to make plays with his arm hitting multiple longer throws that werenít a part of the Chicago offense earlier in the season with backup QB Kyle Orton under center. However, inaccuracy and some poor decision making kept the Bears from being able to mount more than a few scoring drives.
RB Thomas Jones capped a great season with more of the same that he displayed all season long. Jones ran hard and looked fast hitting holes and eluding tacklers. However, he didnít have much of a chance as Chicago called pass plays at a 2:1 clip after falling behind early.
What you ought to know
|QB Jake Delhomme, Pass: 24 - 33 - 319 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 9 - 0|
Delhomme got off to a quick start completing his first two passes including a long touchdown to WR Steve Smith on the second play of the game. Delhomme continued to radar in on Smith through the first half. Seven of his thirteen completions went to Smith. He was intercepted by LB Brian Urlacher early in the second quarter, but rebounded before halftime leading the Panthers on a long drive to set up the third field goal by KR John Kasay. The Delhomme to Smith connection continued through the third quarter as they hooked up five more times including another long touchdown. Delhomme was accurate and efficient throughout the game. He moved well in pocket avoiding the pass rush while still keeping his focus down field.
The Panthers tried to get Foster going with eight first quarter carries, but the Chicago front four did a solid job of meeting him in the backfield or on the line of scrimmage on most plays. Foster had two carries at the goal line near the end of the first quarter, but again the Chicago defense didnít budge. Fosterís first carry in the second half went for a modest four yard gain, but Foster was injured in what was described as a ďhighĒ ankle sprain. After the game, it was confirmed that Foster broke his ankle and is done for the season.
|RB Nick Goings, Rush: 10 - 34 - 0, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (4 targets)|
Goings lined up in the slot as a wide receiver at the start of the second quarter. QB Jake Delhomme floated a pass deep down the center of the field towards him on his first play, but LB Brian Urlacher leapt high in the air to intercept the pass. Goings replaced Foster as the featured running back for Carolina in the second half. He was effective hitting holes quickly on draws and delays.
|WR Steve Smith, Rush: 3 - 26 - 0, Rec: 12 - 218 - 2 (14 targets)|
QB Jake Delhomme targeted Smith on the first play from scrimmage on a quick hitch. The Panthers have used this play on numerous weeks this season during opening drives setting up the longer throws deep down the field. On the second play a pump fake from Delhomme allowed Smith to blow by CB Charles Tillman for a 58 yard touchdown. After two more quick passes to Smith at the line of scrimmage Delhomme lofted another deep ball towards Smith on a go route. Tillman had decent coverage on the play and had his hands on the ball in the air, but Smith ripped it away from him for a 46 yard play to the three yard line. He caught two more passes on the final Panther drive before halftime. The first was a ten yard reception on third and nine. Smith was able to use his speed and elusiveness to evade tacklers and get to the sticks. The other was a deep 20 yard cross pulling Carolina into field goal range. Smith continued his torrid pace into the second half. He pulled in several more quick hitch passes and wide receiver screen before breaking open for a 39 yard touchdown down the left side of the field. The cornerback fell down on the play leaving Smith free for the score. In the fourth quarter Smith took a reverse 22 yards around left end getting them into the red zone. Shortly after that Smith was targeted again on a quick pass. He lunged forward just one yard short of the goal line. Needing a first down to end the game the Panthers went to Smith again on a third and six with a reverse, but he was stopped short.
Proehlís first target came on a third and long in the first quarter. He was open down the center of the field, by QB Jake Delhomme overthrew the pass. His first reception came at the end of the first half and set up the field goal by KR John Kasay. Proehl also caught his final two targets for solid gains working the middle of the field.
Carter pulled in successive targets at the start of the second quarter for long gains. He was able to turn a quick hitch at the line of scrimmage into a big gain by making CB Charles Tillman miss. Carter flashed top-notch speed getting up field quickly. He was targeted on a deep ball to the end zone near the end of the first half. The defensive back may have gotten away with pass interference on the play.
Colbert saw two targets on successive plays late in the first quarter. He wasnít targeted again in the game.
Mangumís first target came midway through the third quarter. He dropped the pass after it hit him square in the hands. His other target came off play action on the goal line. Mangum sold run block well and snuck through the line into the end zone. He was wide open for the easy score.
Kasay hit all three of his field goal attempts (20, 38, 37). Each was in the second quarter. Kasay doinked an extra point off the upright late in the game keeping the lead at only eight points and giving the Bears a chance to tie with only one score and a two point conversion.
RB Thomas Jones was averaging nearly five yards per carry deep into the second half, but the Bears seemed content to try and win the game on the arm of QB Rex Grossman.
The Panthersí front seven put solid pressure on QB Rex Grossman even though they only recorded one sack in the game (Carstens). The Bears tried to ease the pressure by having Grossman throw tons of quick slants and timing routes to get the ball out quickly. Both Carolina corners (Gamble and Lucas) played up and did a nice job of pressing Chicago receivers. Lucas picked off a Grossman pass deep in the fourth quarter by trailing in coverage behind WR Justin Gage and baiting Grossman to throw his way.
|QB Rex Grossman, Pass: 17 - 41 - 192 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0|
Grossman started the game with a quick 0-3 on his first series. Each pass was off target and not close to being a completion. He only completed one pass during the first quarter on a quick flare to RB Thomas Jones out of the backfield. Inaccuracy combined with a few jump balls typified Grossman deep into the second quarter. However, he did lead the Bears on a long drive just before half connecting on four straight passes. Three were deep in routes that were thrown to wide open receivers. Grossman stayed hot into the second half. He led them down field completing three of four passes including a nicely lofted touch pass to TE Desmond Clark for a touchdown. Grossman was able to move the Bears downfield with his arm at the end of the third quarter with two long passes again setting up FB Jason McKie for a one yard touchdown, but followed up that drive by throwing an interception.
Jones ran hard and showed the same quickness and elusiveness that he did all season long. The Bears didnít give him much of a chance but instead decided to rely on the arm of QB Rex Grossman. The Bears tried to set up screen plays for Jones three times in the game, but werenít successful with it until late. Jones took a short dump off and did a great job of setting up his blocks to pick up 27 yards on the play. The Bears also called an option pass for Jones, but he tucked the ball choosing not to air it out. He made some nice moves to turn a potentially huge loss into a respectable gain on the play.
Peterson entered the game at the end of the second quarter when the Bears penetrated inside the Carolina ten yard line. Peterson got stuffed on his first carry, but did a nice job of extending the ball over the goal line for a one yard score.
QB Rex Grossman targeted Berrian deep down the middle of the field on the second play from scrimmage. On a similar play later in the quarter Berrian was able to draw a pass interference call on CB Ken Lucas. Had Lucas not grabbed him Berrian would have blown by for an easy score. Berrian got the Bear offense going late in the second quarter when he took two crossing routes for solid gains that lead to the touchdown by RB Adrian Peterson. Berrian did a nice job of getting up field gaining extra yardage after the catch. He opened the second half by making two key receptions. The first was a quick slant up the field. Berrian was in motion across the formation and curled quickly back toward the middle of the field. The second was a post route that Berrian took to the one yard line. He took a huge hit from safety Mike Minter on the play, but held on. Berrian went to the locker room after the hit, but returned and later made a one handed catch on a slant.
Muhammad led Bears' receivers in targets during the first half, but didnít pull in his first reception until just before half time on a deep crossing route for 19 yards. Even though he only caught three passes, Muhammad was targeted on every Chicago drive except for one quick three and out in the first quarter. His diving 18 yard out was a great catch and helped set up the McKie touchdown.
Gage was targeted four times in the first quarter. Two times on third down slant routes. Neither was a well thrown ball by QB Rex Grossman. Another was a quick hitch at the line of scrimmage. Initially the ruling on the field was that Gage caught the ball, fumbled, and DE Julius Peppers returned it for a touchdown. However, instant replay overturned the ruling and called it back because Gageís knee was on the ground. Gage nearly scored when Grossman hit him with a pass on the one yard line. The defense did a nice job of standing him up and pushing him back. He pulled in a deep 24 yard in across the middle of the field leading to the McKie touchdown. In the fourth quarter Gage was targeted on another deep slant, but rounded off the route allowing CB Ken Lucas to slide in front of him for the interception.
Clark didnít see his first target until the opening of the second half in the end zone. The linebacker slipped and fell on the play allowing Clark to easily pull in the floater from QB Rex Grossman for the touchdown.
Gould didnít get to attempt a field goal in the game.
The Bears did a solid job of stacking the line of scrimmage with their front seven to shut down RB DeShaun Foster. They held Foster to just over three yards per carry and only barely over two yards per carry if you factor out his long of 17 yards. However, later in the game when the Panthers were trying to grind away the clock and keep the ball on the ground the Bears looked tired and allowed massive holes to open up for backup RB Nick Goings.
QB Jake Delhomme didnít see near the pressure in this game that he did earlier in the season when he was sacked eight times by the Bear pass rush. However, they were able to put several solid hits on Delhomme just as he was releasing a pass. Also, a defender had Delhomme in the grasp more than once before letting him slip away. CB Charles Tillman had an abysmal time trying to stay with WR Steve Smith. Tillman was torched for a long touchdown on the second play of the game and didnít get much better after that play. Smith caught 12 balls for 218 yards and two touchdowns in the game.