MINNEAPOLIS—There was nothing elite about the Bears’ offense in 2014, except the distinctions running back Matt Forte now has associated with his name.
With 2:16 left in Sunday’s 13-9 loss to the Vikings, Forte’s six-yard catch set the single-season reception record for running backs at 102. Cardinals fullback Larry Centers set the record with 101 catches in 1995.
Forte also became only the second player to ever total 1,000 rushing yards and 100 receptions in the same season. LaDainian Tomlinson accomplished the feat in 2003.
“Later on down the road, when I look back on my career it’ll mean something,” Forte said. “It’ll me a lot more to me than right now.”
Forte finished with 1,038 rushing yards but only one carry that exceeded 19 yards. He ran the ball 20 or more times in only three games; the Bears were 2-1 in them.
Forte attributes his big receiving numbers to the Bears’ skilled wide receivers. He said that often teams would have to double receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, which would allow him more opportunities to catch balls underneath.
“The flow of the game, we weren’t really stressing about trying to get it so much,” Forte said. “We were trying to get some screens going, but I think they [Vikings] knew that I was trying to get the record, too, because on the screen plays they weren’t really rushing their d-linemen.”
Linebacker Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman, both Bears lifers, understood their fates when the season ended Sunday.
With their replacements already on the roster, its unlikely that either veteran will be back in 2015. Jon Bostic is expected to replace Briggs at weak side linebacker and rookie and Kyle Fuller, the team’s first-round pick in 2014, will replace Tillman at corner.
“If it is my last game as a Bear, Chicago has been phenomenal. Chicago, you’ve been great,” Tillman said.
Both players were drafted by the organization in 2003—Tillman in the second round and Briggs in the third.
“I’ve got nothing for ya,” Briggs said. “I’ll be at the office tomorrow. (Monday) we’ll talk. I’ve got nothing for you guys right now. Sorry.”
Paea unsure, too
Defensive tackle Stephen Paea, too, admitted Sunday’s game might have been his last as a Bear. The free agent-to-be said he’d like to return, but that he knows the Bears drafted two defensive tackles last season for a reason.
“I have no idea what’s going on,” he said. “I’m trying to make a living next year, too. I don’t know if I’m going to be here or elsewhere. Wherever I end up at, wherever our coach is, we just gotta do our job.”