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Has anyone had a debut like Cohen?

Posted Sep 12, 2017

Senior writer Larry Mayer discusses rookie Tarik Cohen's impressive NFL debut, the last time the Bears produced a goal-line stand on defense like the one that beat them last Sunday and why Cohen wasn't on the field for all of the Bears' final four plays last Sunday.



Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

I thought that was a great performance by Tarik Cohen in the opener and couldn’t think of a better debut by a Bears rookie. I figured you would remember one that may have been on par?

Jon L.
Beecher, Illinois

I’m not so sure I can think of a Bears rookie debut that topped what Tarik Cohen accomplished last Sunday when he produced 158 all-purpose yards against the Falcons. That total included a dazzling 46-yard run, a 19-yard touchdown reception and a 17-yard punt return. The other rookie debut that comes to my mind is Matt Forte’s performance in his first game in the 2008 season opener in Indianapolis. Forte rushed for 123 yards on 23 carries, including a 50-yard touchdown run in the first quarter in a 29-13 win over the Colts in the inaugural game at Lucas Oil Stadium. In the first game of Devin Hester’s storied career, he returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown in a 26-0 win over the Packers in Green Bay in 2006. At the other end of the spectrum, the greatest Bears player of all time (in my humble opinion) didn’t have a whole lot of success in his first NFL game. Hall of Famer Walter Payton had eight carries for zero yards in a 35-7 loss to the Baltimore Colts at Soldier Field in the 1975 season opener.

When was the last time the Bears held an opponent out of the end zone on four plays to win a game like the Falcons did last Sunday at Soldier Field?

Evan K.
Merrillville, Indiana

The Bears produced a similar goal-line stand to beat the Packers 17-13 in Green Bay on Thanksgiving night in 2015. The defense forced Aaron Rodgers to throw four straight incomplete passes from the 8-yard line in the final minute of the game. The Bears clinched the win when Rodgers failed to connect with receiver Davante Adams on fourth-and-goal with :22 left.

After what he did all game, why didn’t the Bears have running back Tarik Cohen in the game on their final four plays when they needed a touchdown to beat the Falcons?

Edgar L.
Topeka, Kansas

Tarik Cohen was in the game on fourth down, but Jordan Howard was on the field the previous three plays. Coach John Fox explained Monday that he felt more comfortable with Howard in pass protection than the diminutive Cohen. Said Fox: “At the running back position, there’s a lot to that job, not just what kind of athlete you are getting out of the backfield. There’s a lot of protection involved and we’d had a couple of those issues earlier in the game. Without getting into too much detail, that was the reason.”

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