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Alert: Bears’ running game jumps from 2.5 to 2.52 yards per carry vs. Panthers

From the offensive line to David Montgomery to Matt Nagy, the Bears’ ground game barely exists. Can they fix it?

David Montgomery was 25th in the NFL in rushing going into Sunday. His 58 yards on 19 carries against the Panthers won’t help that.
David Montgomery was 25th in the NFL in rushing going into Sunday. His 58 yards on 19 carries against the Panthers won’t help that.
Brian Westerholt/AP

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Bears’ running game got better Sunday, as long as everyone is comfortable measuring progress in fractions. The team and the coach that love talking about running the ball more than actually doing it managed just 2.5 yards per carry in the 23-16 win over the Panthers.

Technically, it was 2.52 yards, which was up from a flat 2.5 the week before against the Buccaneers and — get ready for this — almost a yard of improvement from the 1.8 yards they averaged in the loss to the Colts two games ago.

At the end of the game, when the Bears most needed to run so they could drain the clock and avoid another scary finish, they either could not or did not. After running back David Montgomery managed 1 yard on second-and-3 with 1:49 left, Nagy called a pass play that went incomplete as Nick Foles overthrew Allen Robinson.

That gave the Panthers the ball back with 1:32 remaining and an opportunity to tie or win the game.

If you get that first down right there, it’s game over,” coach Matt Nagy said in defense of his third-down pass, a decision he had already made in his mind before the first play of the possession. “You can run the ball and possibly get it and you make them burn a timeout, but that’s not an aggressive approach.

“We felt really good, all of us, with the decision to do that. It’s one of those ones that if you get it, it’s a great call and it’s game over. And if you don’t, it stinks and you’ve gotta give the ball back to them. We’ve gotta finish the end of those games.”

Montgomery had 58 yards on 19 carries, Cordarrelle Patterson ran once for a yard and Foles tacked on five rushes for four yards, including a QB sneak for a touchdown.