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Defense contains Forté
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CHICAGO – Bears running back Matt Forté entered Week 11 one yard shy of the NFL lead for total offense.
San Diego had allowed Oakland running back Michael Bush to gain 242 yards in its last outing. The Chargers expected a steady dose of Forté and steeled themselves for the difficulties that come with defending one of the league’s best offensive threats.
Forté managed just nine carries for 18 yards through three quarters before plowing to 39 yards on Chicago’s last two drives. Still, he averaged just 2.9 yards per carry and added just 26 receiving yards.
“I thought we did a good job on Forté,” Quentin Jammer said. “Up front they did a good job, but toward the end of the game when we needed to get a stop we didn’t get a stop.”
It was Jay Cutler who sliced through the San Diego defense at times, throwing for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Antoine Cason picked him off in the fourth quarter when Johnny Knox slipped, but it was the only time the Chargers wrested the ball away from the home team.
“We’re fighting tooth-and-nail trying to figure it out,” Takeo Spikes said of the defense. “I think we’ve got the run fixed, so now we just need to understand what we need to do collectively, run and pass. We’ve got to put it all together and try to force more turnovers.”
LINE HOLDS: Philip Rivers was not sacked Sunday against Chicago despite missing three starters on the offensive line and facing Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers.
The last time Rivers made it through a game without a sack? That would be Jan. 3, 2010, against the Redskins. Rivers attempted 15 passes that day before giving way to Billy Volek in the first quarter.
“Our O-line stepped up and did a great job giving Philip some time to take his (normal) five and seven-step drops,” Jackson said.
Jay Cutler was not sacked either, marking the first San Diego game without a single sack since Nov. 29, 2009, a 43-14 win over Kansas City.
Rookie Stephen Schilling got his first NFL start at right guard in the game. Tony Moll, signed on Tuesday, also played at right guard. Brandyn Dombrowski (left tackle) and Scott Mruczkowski (left guard) also started. Both Schilling and Moll were in the game at the same time when Mruczkowski sustained a concussion.
Rivers spent more time than usual in shotgun formations. Head Coach Norv Turner credited offensive line coach Hal Hunter for having his unit prepared and also congratulated Dombrowski on a great bounce-back performance.
“It’s huge,” Dombrowski said of having an entire week to prepare with the first offense. “When you know where you’re going to play you’re able to concentrate on the players that you’re going to be going against. It helps out a lot.”
TOUGH DAY: San Diego’s special teams had a rough outing against Chicago, as teams often do.
Mike Tolbert stoned Devin Hester at the Chicago 14 on a first-quarter kickoff, but Hester had a 37-yard punt return to open the second. The all-time leader in punt return touchdowns got a 42-yard return minutes later. Though the Bears were flagged for holding on the play, Chicago took advantage of a short field and scored a touchdown.
On its next return, Chicago got a 53-yard effort from Knox to set up another second-quarter touchdown. Hester returned another kickoff to the Chicago 41 in the third.
“We have one of the best punters in the league. I think a couple punts didn’t come off (his foot) as he planned them,” Turner said. “I thought we had a good plan. (Hester) did a good job returning them.”
Nick Novak made 2-of-3 field goals, but his 55-yard attempt just before halftime slammed into the crossbar. Novak made 28 and 48-yard attempts and is now 17-of-18 inside 50 yards this season.
BOLTS: Cam Thomas got his first career start at nose tackle … Vincent Jackson reached 250 career receptions with a 32-yard catch in the second quarter … Philip Rivers also threw his 150th career touchdown pass in the second quarter and notched No. 201 in the third. Dan Fouts (254) and John Hadl (201) are the only other two quarterbacks in franchise history to reach that mark … Cason had a team-best three passes defensed along with his first interception of the season.
KICKOFF WEATHER: Cloudy, 42 degrees.
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