No one should be overly impressed by a Bears offense that managed just 13 points, even with the benefit of a defense and a special teams unit that forced 4 turnovers.
Still, there's no denying the Bears' run game is becoming a potent force. The next step for the offensive line is to eliminate some of the penalties that stunted their progress Monday night at Soldier Field.
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But the O-line more than held its own against a formidable Detroit Lions.
"We knew the front four was the strength of their team," said running back Matt Forte (96 yards on 22 carries). "We were going to have to basically beat them up upfront so that we could get the running game going -- and the passing game -- and we ran the ball well. I think we did a great job. We're starting to improve each week in the running game."
In the past two games, the Bears have rushed for 385 yards -- nearly as much as the 404 yards they had on the ground in the first four games combined.
In fairness to the offense, it was saddled with horrid field position much of Monday night. It was forced to run 19 of 69 total plays from inside its own 20-yard line.
Fortunately for the Bears, some of Forte's most impressive runs carried them away from the shadow of their own goal post, improved field position and eventually forced the Lions' offense to play on a longer field.
Forte's 39-yard run on the Bears' fifth play from scrimmage set up their only touchdown.
Perhaps equally as important was Forte's third-and-8 run with the Bears at their 19-yard line, holding a 10-0 advantage. Faced with the possibility of giving the Lions the ball with good field position and a chance to slice the lead, Forte ran for 9 yards and a first down.
"When you're playing defense like that and get a lead," Bears coach Lovie Smith said, "you have to be able to run the football like that, and we were able to."
In their last two games, the Bears have averaged 5.9 yards per run after getting just 3.4 yards per crack in their first four games.
In the third quarter, the Bears were backed up at their 3-yard line, but two Forte carries picked up 5 and 11 yards to take them out of danger.
O-line penalties helped back the Bears up into those precarious situations a couple times. Six of the Bears' 9 infractions were against offensive linemen. Right tackle Gabe Carimi was flagged twice for holding, center Roberto Garza had 2 false starts, and right guard Lance Louis had 1 false start. Left guard Chilo Rachal drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness call.
"We could have played a lot better up front," Garza said. "We made a lot of mistakes and hurt ourselves with our techniques and just not carrying what we did on the practice field into the game."
Miscues aside, the improved ground attack can be a formidable asset when combined with the league's No. 1 defense. Monday night was a prime example, as the Bears held a commanding 34:35-25:25 advantage in time of possession, keeping the Lions' offense off the field.