Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
Fortunately, the Bears have been leading a lot of games of late. Maybe that's why I can't remember them making a big comeback like they did Sunday against the Panthers. When was the last time the Bears erased such a big deficit in the fourth quarter like that?
Colorado Springs, Colorado
The last time the Bears rallied from 12 or more points down in the fourth quarter to win a game was on Nov. 25, 2007 when they accomplished the feat, ironically, against Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and the Denver Broncos. The Bears trailed that game 34-20 before they scored two touchdowns in the final 5:17 of the fourth quarter and then won in overtime 37-34 on Robbie Gould's 39-yard field goal. In that game, Cutler completed 17 of 31 passes for 302 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and a 96.4 passer rating. Marshall had four receptions for 97 yards including a 68-yard touchdown. The Bears' two late TDs came on Adrian Peterson's 4-yard run with 5:17 to play and Rex Grossman's 3-yard pass to Bernard Berrian on fourth-and-goal with :28 left. By the way, Sunday's victory over the Panthers was the 13th fourth-quarter comeback of Cutler's career and his sixth in four seasons with the Bears.
I thought Matt Forte was running very well in the first half Sunday against the Panthers. Why didn't the Bears keep feeding him the ball?
Lovie Smith acknowledged Monday that Matt Forte needs to have more than the 15 carries he got in Sunday's win over the Panthers. But it wasn't as simple as the Bears just opting not to hand him the ball. The offense struggled to pick up third downs and the defense uncharacteristically couldn't get off the field, allowing Carolina to sustain drives by converting 10 of 19 third-down opportunities. That contributed to the Bears possessing the ball for just 23:22, their lowest time of possession in a win since Dec. 3, 2006 against the Minnesota Vikings. The Bears did call 35 passes and 18 runs and no doubt would like to be more balanced, but they had to put the ball in the air after falling behind by two scores with 6:47 left in the third quarter when Jason Medlock's 22-yard field goal gave the Panthers a 16-7 lead. By the way, here's what Smith said Monday: "When you have a special player like that of course we need him to get the ball more, and we'll try that. But you can say that about a few of our players. We need to get them the ball more. But when you have an offensive day like we did-three-and-out, a couple turnovers-you take a lot of plays away where you can't get as many touches for some of your marquee players as you'd like."
I've always been under the impression that the offense cannot advance a fumble. Why wasn't Louis Murphy's recovery spotted at the 1, where Major Wright forced Cam Newton's fumble?
I received several email questions wondering the same thing. Had Cam Newton's fumble occurred on fourth down or in the final two minutes of the first or second half, the ball would have been returned to the spot of the fumble. In those situations, only the player who fumbles the ball can recover and/or advance it. Otherwise, any offensive player can recover and/or advance a fumble, which is why the officials let Louis Murphy's touchdown stand Sunday.