Moon: Forte reaches a Payton milestone

Moon: Forte reaches a Payton milestone
January 3, 2011, 2:51 am
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Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011
Posted 8:27 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

GREEN BAY Running back Matt Forte began the day needing 22 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the second time in three NFL seasons and he had that before the game was one-quarter over.

Forte circled his left end behind blocks by left tackle Frank Omiyale and pulling right guard Roberto Garza and streaked 25 yards to top the 1,000-yard target. He then immediately went after 1,100 with 21 more yards on the next play.

That run and his 54 total for the first half, plus 41 more on 4 pass receptions, made Forte the first Bear since Walter Payton to rush for 1,000 yards and total 500 receiving yards in the same season. In a strong show of consistency, Forte netted 961 yards of total offense over his last nine games.

For him to get 1,000 yards is our goal, said guard Roberto Garza. Hes without a doubt one of the best backs in the league and he makes us look good.

Forte will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2011 so as far as any lavish gifts right now for his offensive linemen, I cant, he said. I dont have any money.
To play or not to play

Bears players were very unhappy with the outcome Sunday but not with the situation in which no starters were given the day off. Indeed, the unmistakable feeling was that playing was a good thing.

I think it was good coaching to let us play the whole game, said linebacker Lance Briggs.

The Packers, going after the No. 6 seed for the playoffs, gave the Bears an early look at playoff football. It was definitely a playoff atmosphere and they were coming after us, said center Olin Kreutz.

To Brian Urlacher, it was nice to play the whole game. It keeps us in shape because were off next week. We have a bye, then weve got to come back and play a game that counts for something.
Nice gesture

Julius Peppers took time out Sunday morning to reach out to John Fox, the embattled Carolina Panthers coach who was Peppers coach since the defensive end came into the league in 2002 and until this year.

I textd him this morning and told him I was proud of him, Pepper said. Hes been through a lot there and I really wish him the best always.

Peppers isnt likely to send as nice a message to Sundays officials after he was called for roughing the passer. Peppers hit Aaron Rodgers with his shoulder just after Rodgers got rid of a pass on a scramble and the yellow flag came out.

I thought it was a bogus call, Peppers said. I thought it was for helmet-to-helmet contact but the official said I didnt have to hit him.
Pick it

The defense went into Sunday looking for turnovers and got one early when cornerback D.J. Moore punched the ball out of receiver Donald Drivers hands in the first quarter, a fumble recovered by Charles Tillman.

Tillman put the offense in scoring position with a third-quarter interception and return of 42 yards to the Green Bay 15. The interception gave the Bears two players (Tillman, Chris Harris) with 5 interceptions for the first time since Tillman and Ricky Manning each had 5 in the 2006 Super Bowl season.

Tillmans twisting return confirmed the informal consensus that all defensive backs are secretly running backs and wide receivers at heart. Im a big Devin Hester fan, Tillman said. Im just not as successful as he is.

Sick bay

Safety Major Wrights run of first-year injuries continued Sunday with a leg injury in the first quarter that took him out of the remainder of the game. Wright was injured during training camp, in the Bears second game and again on Sunday, a surprise for a player who missed not so much as a practice while playing at Florida.

Safety Chris Harris suffered a stinger making a tackle on the next-to-last series Sunday but said afterwards he will be ready to practice this week.
Duly noted

Wide receiver Johnny Knox needed 40 yards to reach 1,000 for the season but was thoroughly throttled by the Green Bay secondary. Knox caught none of four passes thrown to him through three quarters.

Creepy: Strong-side linebacker Nick Roach was injured on the first play Sunday. A year ago when the Bears played the Packers, Pisa Tinoisamoa injured his knee on the first play of the game.
Zackary Bowman, a starting cornerback to open the season but replaced by Tim Jennings after breakdowns in coverage, did his chances of regaining the job no good when he was beaten for a 47-yard completion to set up a go-ahead Green Bay touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Restful Sunday

The Bears placed wide receiver Earl Bennett on their inactive list to give his injured ankle a game day off to heal. Otherwise the Bears made no changes in their lineups or game-day roster for a game that carried little meaning with Atlanta blowing out Carolina to clinch the No. 1 seed.
Welcome back

Tight end Desmond Clark was active for the first time since the Seattle game and responded with a special-teams tackle on Brad Maynards first punt.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.