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updated: 11/26/2012 8:05 PM

Bears' running game lacking big plays

Bears' ground game not producing big plays

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  • Matt Forte runs behind center Edwin Williams at Soldier Field on Sunday. Forte's status for next week's game against Seattle will be updated Wednesday.

       Matt Forte runs behind center Edwin Williams at Soldier Field on Sunday. Forte's status for next week's game against Seattle will be updated Wednesday.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Michael Bush carries the ball for a second-quarter touchdown as he gets past Vikings strong safety Jamarca Sanford. Bush is in line for a heavy workload if Matt Forte can't go next week against the Seahawks.

       Michael Bush carries the ball for a second-quarter touchdown as he gets past Vikings strong safety Jamarca Sanford. Bush is in line for a heavy workload if Matt Forte can't go next week against the Seahawks.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Michael Bush had 21 carries for 60 yards and 2 TDs against Minnesota on Sunday at Soldier Field.

       Michael Bush had 21 carries for 60 yards and 2 TDs against Minnesota on Sunday at Soldier Field.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
 

There was clearly a commitment to the ground game on Sunday by offensive coordinator and play-caller Mike Tice, who dialed up 39 run plays.

Unfortunately for the Bears not one of those runs produced a gain of more than 8 yards, a problem that has plagued the team for weeks.

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Matt Forte, who suffered an ankle injury Sunday, did not have a run longer than 6 yards, and he does not have a run of longer than 8 yards in his last 51 carries, covering three games.

With Forte's status for Sunday extremely questionable, the burden falls on Michael Bush. The 245-pounder has just 1 run longer than 9 yards in the past five games, covering 42 carries. Armando Allen would move up to the No. 2 spot with Forte out.

"You would like to have big runs, explosive runs as often as possible, and we have guys capable of doing that," coach Lovie Smith said. "And they have. But I think the first thing you have to look at is the commitment to the run. Thirty-nine rushes, that right there to me was the story of the day."

The 39 rushes produced just 113 yards and a 2.9-yard average. Forte had 42 yards on 14 attempts, while Bush picked up 60 yards on 21 tries.

That was good enough on a day the offense excelled on third downs, converting 58 percent (11 of 19). With a 25-3 lead before halftime, the Bears could be content to wind down the clock with time-consuming runs, even if they didn't produce big chunks of yardage.

"You have to be good on third downs, and you have to make some plays," Smith said. "You can't just have 1-yard gains throughout. Yeah, we would like to have a 300-yard rushing day. But that was what we needed to do at the time."

A different philosophy:

It wasn't just the run-pass ratio of 39-31 that worked so well for the offense Sunday, it was the short drops and quick passes that kept quarterback Jay Cutler from taking a beating.

The only time Cutler was sacked was when his foot was stepped on by center Roberto Garza, causing him to trip. The quarterback admitted after the game that a similar safe approach would be necessary moving forward, and that was before guard Lance Louis was placed on injured reserve.

"When you have a line of new guys in there, I want to get rid of the ball fast, find my first read and take it," Cutler said. "We also want to limit sacks. Sacks really kill those guys up front. If we have to design routes to shorten things up, so be it.

"We want to limit sacks and keep their confidence high."

Walking wounded:

Wide receiver Devin Hester is expected to miss Sunday's game at home against the Seahawks after suffering a concussion in the first half against the Vikings.

His condition, however, won't be updated until after Wednesday's practice, and the same goes for cornerback Charles Tillman (ankle), running back Matt Forte (ankle) and guard Chris Spencer (knee).

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