Bears' Forte outgains Eagles' McCoy

LeSean McCoy finished with 71 rushing yards on 16 carries compared to Matt Forte's 133. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
LeSean McCoy finished with 71 rushing yards on 16 carries compared to Matt Forte's 133. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 08, 2011

TWO RUNNING backs in search of big money duked it out last night in a game that was a lot more critical to the immediate futures of their respective teams than it was to their personal bank accounts.

The Bears had ridden Matt Forte's running and pass-catching to a 4-3 record that had kept them in sight of their undefeated NFC North neighbor, the Green Bay Packers, if they used a really, really strong pair of binoculars. He came into the game ranked first in the league in yards from scrimmage (1,091) and sixth in rushing (672).

LeSean McCoy, who came into the game ranked second in the league in rushing (754) behind Adrian Peterson, had helped the Eagles stay alive after a horrible 1-4 start with impressive performances in back-to-back wins over the Redskins and the Cowboys.

McCoy had rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown in a 20-13 win over Washington before the bye, and followed it up last week with a career-best 185 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries in a 34-7 win over the Cowboys. The odds of another big game by McCoy last night seemed good.

The Bears have had problems stopping the run this season. They came into the game ranked 12th in rushing yards allowed, but 29th in yards allowed per carry (5.2).

They were gashed for 164 yards by the Lions Jahvid Best and 100 yards by the Falcons' Michael Turner. The Packers' Ryan Grant had rushed for 92 yards on 17 carries against them, and the Panthers' DeAngelo Williams had rushed for 82 yards on 10 carries.

But they also had managed to stone the Vikings' Peterson three weeks ago, holding the league's rushing leader to 39 yards on 12 carries.

For two quarters last night, the Bears managed to do a pretty good job on McCoy as well, holding him to 33 yards on nine first-half carries. But all season long, McCoy has been a second-half runner.

In the Eagles' first seven games, 417 of McCoy's 754 rushing yards and five of his eight rushing touchdowns had come in the second half of games.

Like clockwork, McCoy sprung to life in the third quarter. He was a big part of the Eagles' 15-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to open the second half. Caught two passes from Michael Vick on the drive, converted a fourth-and-1 at the Chicago 20 with a 4-yard run up the middle, then had 7- and 8-yard runs that set up his forgotten backup, Ronnie Brown, for a 4-yard touchdown run that tied the game with 8:22 left in the third quarter.

He would give the Eagles the lead on the their next possession, using a nice block from left tackle Jason Peters to burst through a hole on the left side and run 33 yards for a touchdown that put the Eagles ahead 24-17.

But he would touch the ball just two more times the rest of the game as the Bears' offense outplayed the Eagles defense over the game's final 20 minutes. They would score three more times, twice on Robbie Gould field goals and another time on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Earl Bennett. When it was over and the Bears took away a 30-24 victory, McCoy and the Eagles found themselves adrift with a 3-5 record, their playoff hopes on life support.

McCoy finished with 71 rushing yards on 16 carries. Forte, meanwhile, showed that the Eagles' run defense still has a lot of improving to do. He finished with 133 rushing yards on 24 carries. Forte also had three receptions for 17 more yards.

Fifty-two of Forte's 133 yards came on five carries on the Bears' first scoring drive, including 25- and 14-yard runs. The Bears rushed for 60 yards in the first quarter. In the Eagles' eight games, they've given up 351 of their 992 opponent rushing yards in the first quarter. Opponents are averaging 6.1 yards per carry against the Eagles in the first quarter.

Forte is the fourth running back to rush for 100 yards against the Eagles this season, joining the Falcons' Michael Turner (21 carries, 114 yards), the 49ers' Frank Gore (15-127) and the Bills' Fred Jackson (26-111).

Thumbs down I

To rookie punter Chas Henry for his horrible pass on a fake punt on a fourth-and-6 at the Chicago 46 midway through the fourth quarter. The "gunner" on the play, Colt Anderson, was wide open, but Henry's throw was way short, giving the ball back to the Bears who ended up with a Robbie Gould field goal that extended their lead to 30-24. "He was uncovered," Andy Reid said. "[Henry] went to throw him the ball. Obviously, it didn't work. But I'm always going to try to stay aggressive. '

Thumbs down II

To Michael Vick, who threw his ninth interception in the second quarter, but more significantly, his third in the red zone. After driving from the Eagles' 22 to the Chicago 19, Vick threw an awful pass down the middle for DeSean Jackson that was first tipped by linebacker Brian Urlacher then picked off by linebacker Lane Briggs. He apparently never saw either of them.

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