The Bears needed only a half-yard, but coach John Fox preferred the field goal.
Up 14-3 at the two-minute warning in the first half Sunday, Fox faced second-and-goal at the Panthers’ 1. They ran Jordan Howard left, and he lost a yard. On third down, quarterback Mitch Trubisky faked a fly sweep to Tarik Cohen, rolled left and took off for the pylon.
He stretched the ball into the end zone for a touchdown, but it came back when a replay showed his knee was down before the ball crossed the goal line.
Needing mere feet to score, Fox elected to send Connor Barth out for a 19-yard field goal and a 14-point lead against the Panthers.
“You do something on the first down and it didn’t work, and you do something on second down and it didn’t work, and you do something on third down and it didn’t work,” Fox said. “What on earth makes you think something good is going to happen on the fourth down?
“I’ll just make it simple for you: We got the ball to start the third quarter, and we knew that going in.”
When the defensive end Akiem Hicks sacked Cam Newton in the third quarter, he celebrated by impersonating Willie Young’s fishing-pole dance. The linebacker is on injured reserve with a tear in his triceps.
“I caught me a bigmouth bass,” Hicks said. “That’s my guy. It’s just a way to show him that I don’t forget him.”
Now it’s Hicks’ turn to avoid injury. He favored his left arm and shoulder in the fourth quarter before returning to the field for the next drive. With four minutes left, he had to be helped off the field after laying face-first in the grass in pain.
Fox claimed he didn’t know what was wrong — “I think he was tired,” he said — while Hicks didn’t want to offer specifics.
Hicks, who has three consecutive games with a sack, said there was no cause for concern.
“I got a little shock to my system,” he said. “I’ll be OK.”
Bears slow McCaffrey
The Bears held Panthers rookie running back Christian McCaffrey to 10 yards on seven carries. He led the team with seven receptions but gained only 36 yards. Throw out a 20-yarder in the third quarter, and he had six catches for 16 yards.
“Man, that boy is slippery,” Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “He’s a special player. He’s going to be special in this league. We just tried to limit him.
“We know that’s one of their favorite targets, especially in the red zone. And it was my job to slow him down. And I think I did pretty good. Me and [Christian Jones], we worked hand-in-hand with that.”
This and that
Running back Jordan Howard had 21 carries for 65 yards. His 3.1 yards per carry were still better than his showings against the Packers and Buccaneers. For the first time this season, Tarik Cohen didn’t have a carry.
• Defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris left the game with an injured left hamstring suffered on a second-quarter kickoff and did not return.
• The Bears said 6,855 paid ticket-holders were no-shows.
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