Bears' Forte gets record, but also frustration

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Bears running back Matt Forte heads up field during the first half Sunday at Minnesota. Forte caught 8 passes for an NFL record 102 by a running back in a season, but the catches totaled only 23 yards.

    Bears running back Matt Forte heads up field during the first half Sunday at Minnesota. Forte caught 8 passes for an NFL record 102 by a running back in a season, but the catches totaled only 23 yards. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 12/28/2014 8:50 PM

Matt Forte got his record in Sunday's loss at Minnesota, catching 8 passes to give him 102, the most by a running back in NFL history.

But it was a hollow accomplishment, considering Forte managed just 23 yards on his catches, which came on 12 targets.

 

Forte also had 17 carries, and those produced 51 yards as the offense, which came into the season with so much hype and such lofty expectations, failed to reach the end zone.

Forte was asked if coach Marc Trestman's offense was too predictable.

"Yeah, you can say that," said Forte, who finished with 1,038 rushing yards, joining LaDainian Tomlinson as the only players in NFL history with 100 catches and 1,000 rushing yards.

"Sometimes we will line up in a formation that we ran a specific play out of a few more times than we should have. Defenses are smart. They watch film, read their keys, and they know stuff like that.

"But, at the same time, if you execute the play and do it right, you can still be effective in that."

The Bears managed only 264 yards of total offense, the eighth time this season they were held under 280. Trestman praised the effort he saw in the Bears' fifth straight loss, but that wasn't nearly enough.

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"Effort only gets you so far in everything you do," Forte said. "If you look back at this game in the red zone, not scoring touchdowns, we have to execute better in that area."

The Bears settled for field goals on both of their red-zone trips, including after Kyle Fuller's interception and return when they had first-and-goal at the 9-yard line.

Keeping it together:

It was widely assumed that defensive coordinator Mel Tucker would be fired ever since the Bears allowed 108 points in back-to-back losses to New England and Green Bay at midseason.

But the defense actually outperformed the offense down the stretch, holding three of the last seven opponents to 13 points. Tucker's players never stopped playing hard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"He's done a great job of making sure we stay in tune," safety Ryan Munday said of Tucker, "making sure we stay together and we keep it in perspective."

Linebacker Jon Bostic said blame for the 5-11 season lies with the players, not the coaches.

"We have to play better," said Bostic, who was second on the Bears with 10 tackles, 1 fewer than Mundy. "I've been saying that all season: 'It's not on the coaches, it's on us.'

"They put together a great game plan; we have to execute. We made too many mistakes all over the field in all three phases.

"It's not on Coach Tucker, it's on us, the way we should be fitting the run and the way we should be stopping this play and that play."

It was Bostic who stuffed Vikings running back Matt Asiata on fourth-and-1 at the Bears' 3 with 2:59 left, leading to an emotional sideline celebration with Tucker in the center of it. It gave the offense one last chance, but it failed to convert.

"Obviously (it was emotional)," Bostic said. "You got off the field after a fourth-down stop. For us, it's an emotional game."

Same old stuff:

Penalties haunted the Bears all season, especially on offense, and they didn't get any better as the season went downhill. They were penalized eight times for 50 yards Sunday, while the Vikings were flagged just four times for 25 yards.

"Penalties, lack of discipline, jumping offsides, or whatever it was," running back Matt Forte said. "We had a lot of penalties in this game that kind of hurt us."

Before the offense ran five plays, it had committed 2 pre-snap penalties, a false start and a delay of game, back to back. Quarterback Jay Cutler also had to call a timeout before the third play.

A delay-of-game penalty in the fourth quarter was partly responsible for the Bears settling for a 35-yard field goal after they had a first-and-10 at the Vikings' 13.

It was a microcosm of the offense's season and a constant throughout.

"I think that's fair," coach Marc Trestman said. "So many times we have stopped ourselves crossing the 50-yard line, whether it's through penalties, a turnover, whatever it might be. Those are things that do resonate with me."

Extra points:

The Bears took out a full-page newspaper ad Sunday that read: "We Won't Make Excuses."

On the next line, the ad said: "We Will Thank You For Your Support," and then "We've got the best fans around, thank you Chicagoland." … The game-time temperature was 16 degrees. … Kyle Fuller's interception was his fourth of the season, tying him with Ryan Mundy for the team lead.

Just for kicks:

The Bears' deepest penetration of the first half Sunday was just to the Minnesota 30-yard line, but it stalled there, as Jay Cutler fired 2 incompletions.

Jay Feely, filling in for injured Robbie Gould for the fourth straight game, nailed a 48-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3. It was Feely's first field goal as a Bear but the 330th of his 14-year career. Feely later added field goals of 25 and 35 yards but was wide right from 43.

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