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Herbert laments missed opportunity from 1-yard line

Bears running back Khalil Herbert
Bears running back Khalil Herbert

According to Next Gen Stats, Khalil Herbert covered 99.1 yards on his career-long 64-yard run last Thursday night against the Commanders.

But it was the inches that he failed to gain five plays later that kept the Bears running back awake until the wee hours of the morning. Herbert was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the 1, turning the ball over on downs in a frustrating 12-7 loss at Soldier Field.

"I can never sleep after the game," Herbert said. "It's probably about 3 a.m. and I'm lying in bed trying to sleep, and then I just get up and I go grab my iPad because I'm still thinking about the play. Really just trying to figure out what I can do differently if I'm presented that situation again: How can I get in? What could I have done different? Just so that when I'm in that situation again, we have a different outcome."

While Herbert has watched and rewatched the play several times, there's not much ad-libbing he could have done on fourth-and-inches from the 1.

"It's kind of just try and find a seam," Herbert said. "The play is designed to go where it's designed and you've just got to hit it and hope guys get a push and hope you're able to get in. You don't really have too much time to sit there and decipher where I'm going to go. You've just got to get the ball and go."

Studying the play on tape, Herbert wondered whether he should have tried to leap over the mass of bodies at the goal line ala the legendary Walter Payton.

Asked why he feels running backs rarely try that in today's NFL, Herbert said: "Guys get flipped … I've never been a hurdle or jump guy, so it's not my first thought. But watching that play over and over again, I might have to add that in the bag."

The failure of the Bears offense to generate any points on three trips to the Washington 5-yard line overshadowed another impressive performance by Herbert. His 64-yard run was the longest by a Bears player since David Montgomery's 80-yard run Dec. 13, 2020, against the Texans.

According to Next Gen Stats, Herbert was expected to gain only six yards on his 64-yard scamper. Taking a pitch to the left, he picked up blocks by left tackle Braxton Jones and tight end Cole Kmet before cutting all the way across the field to the right.

Herbert lauded the offensive line for allowing him to get to the second level.

"Once there, it's our job to make that last guy miss," he said. "But the whole cutback lane really just opened up and I was able to just see that and hit it."

Herbert leads the Bears and ranks 11th in the NFL in rushing with 403 yards and three touchdowns on 63 carries. His average of 6.4 yards per attempt is tops among the league's 35 running backs who've gained at least 235 yards.

"I know he's a good runner," said coach Matt Eberflus. "I know he's slippery. I know he's got good contact balance."

Eberflus said that Herbert will continue to share the workload in the backfield with Montgomery and "we're just going to go with the hot hand. Whoever's hot right there, we're going to stay with him and go from there."

Herbert enjoys splitting time with Montgomery. The two running backs—in addition to quarterback Justin Fields' ability to scramble—are a major reason the Bears rank second in the NFL in rushing, averaging 170.8 yards per game.

"I really just feel like both of our styles. We're able to make people miss, make plays, and that ultimately helps the team get those hard yards when we need it," Herbert said. "I feel like ultimately we're able to both go in there and be productive."