Matt Forte: Run game will be thereContinue reading.
Matt Forte ready to roll after leading the way vs. Raiders
It seemed like a breakout game for Bears running back Matt Forte. But that’s not how he saw it.
Though the focus was on Jay Cutler and his ability to throw to other receivers besides Brandon Marshall, Forte was the key offensive player who sparked the Bears to a 27-0 lead in the first half 34-26 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Friday night at O.co Coliseum.
Forte scored on a 32-yard swing pass from Cutler in the first quarter and added a 35-yard run that set up another touchdown. In one half, Forte rushed for 76 yards on six carries (12.7 yards per pass) and caught two passes for 33 yards and the touchdown. And, as rookie guard Kyle Long noted, he blocked well.
‘‘The guy does everything,’’ Long said. ‘‘He runs it. He catches it. He blocks. We put a big emphasis on blocking. The running backs are part of the offensive line as well. Matt Forte epitomizes the hard-nosed running back. He wants to get in there and get his nose in the pass blocking and gets down and dirty with those guys.’’
Forte’s excellence was part of an offensive onslaught. Cutler completed 12-of-21 passes for 142 yards and the touchdown to Forte. He made key passes to Alshon Jeffery for 22 yards and tight end Martellus Bennett for 16 yards on the Bears’ first drive, which produced a 45-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.
Michael Bush scored on an impressive 10-yard run up the middle to give the Bears a 17-0 lead with 2:17 left in the first quarter. After Jeffery was stopped short of the goal line on a nine-yard pass, Bush scored on the next play to make it 24-0.
It looked like a revelation — though it remains to be seen just how poor the Raiders will be — but not to Forte.
‘‘We’ve got to expect to come out and play like that every game,’’ Forte said. ‘‘Just because we had a couple of big plays and a couple of nice runs, [it's not] like we’ve arrived as an offense. We’ve still got a lot of work to do. I’m just looking forward to getting better every week.’’
Regardless of the strength of the opponent, Friday night’s game was an indication the Bears offense at least is moving in the right direction with rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills starting at right guard and right tackle.
‘‘Throughout camp, the running game was coming along slowly, trying to get the blocking, the schemes down,’’ Forte said. ‘‘And then once you keep doing it and doing it through practice and the preseason, it’s starting to click now. Those guys are getting better every game.’’
The swing pass — a quick toss to the right by Cutler — looked like a new wrinkle.
‘‘Somewhat,’’ Forte said, ‘‘becaue Mike [Bush] was in the backfield at the same time. We had two tailbacks in at the same time. We can run a lot of different plays like that.
‘‘It was good play calling. The coaches really called the right plays at the right time out there today. That’s something that’s going to help us out as well as having a lot of talent.’’
The Bears have one preseason game remaining against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday at Soldier Field. But Cutler and Forte are among the veterans who are unlikely to play. Their next game figures to be the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 8 at Soldier Field.
After an impressive performance against the Raiders, Forte is looking forward to the regular season.
‘‘I’m pretty prepared [for] Week 1,’’ he said.
He was particularly encouraged by the improvement of the offensive line.
‘‘They get better every week,’’ Forte said. ‘‘Especially the two rookies on the right. They’re just learning right now. They want to learn and that’s the good part about it. They’re getting better every week.’’