Bears' inability to make playoffs overshadows Forte's big year

Bears' inability to make playoffs overshadows Forte's big year
December 30, 2013, 9:15 am
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Jake Flannigan

The 2013 season was the best of Bears running back Matt Forte’s career. So why does the Pro Bowler feel so lousy?

Well, for the same reasons Bears fans are feeling a little lethargic the morning after a 33-28 loss to the rival Green Bay Packers. Forte did all he could to help the Bears clinch the NFC North title on Sunday, rushing for 110 yards and a pair of scores of the ground, while also registering four catches for 47 yards and a receiving touchdown. Yet, it still was not enough.

“We had everything lined up and we couldn’t come through,” Forte said following the loss. “We have nobody to blame except ourselves.”

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The offense was the most electric it’s been in a very long time in 2013. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery formed the most lethal receiver duo in the league, while the offensive line stayed healthy and protected well from start to finish.

“We had a successful offensive season if you’re looking at it stat-wise,” Forte said. “Two receivers with a 1,000 yards and a 1,000 yards rushing, all of that stuff. You can look at it successful that way, but when I’m looking at it, it’s blown opportunities really.”

When you add Forte to the mix, who had career-highs in rushing yards (1,339), rushing touchdowns (9), receiving yards (594), receptions (74) and total touchdowns (12), you could argue the Bears had the top trio of offensive weapons among 32 teams for quarterback Jay Cutler to work with.

“He’s underrated, I think, in the public’s eye,” Cutler said of Forte. “He did a heck of a job for us. I think he’s the best all-around back in the NFL.”

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While the offense made its share of mistakes against the Packers, like Jeffery’s fumble and Marshall’s late drop, it’s safe to say the unit’s positives far outweighed its negatives, just as it has for most of the year. 

“Matt had a heck of a game,” head coach Marc Trestman said. “He played as hard as he could play. You could feel him on the sidelines running, cutting, doing everything he could.”

But just as his production has been overshadowed throughout most of his six-year career, Forte’s contributions were once again a side note to the Bears inability to make the playoffs.