You don't often see the blockers getting credit for a win, especially in Chicago over the past few years. But that was certainly the case Sunday as the Bears topped the Panthers 34-29.
The Bears' biggest plays were marked by great running from Matt Forte and Devin Hester, which was enabled by some spectacular blocking by the guys leading the way.
Make no mistake about it—the Bears offensive line stinks on ice as a pass-protection unit. But they showed today that if Mike Martz allows them an opportunity, they can run-block with the best of them.
While not everyone was spectacular, three offensive linemen really stood out.
Lance Louis, Chris Williams and Roberto Garza blocked very well and dropped some key blocks to the biggest plays of the game. Additionally, J'Marcus Webb, Chris Spencer and even Gate 68 himself, Frank Omiyale, got in on the action occasionally.
But it wasn't just the offensive linemen laying down lanes for Forte to run through. Tight end Kellen Davis and fullback Tyler Clutts got off crucial blocks that sprung the biggest runs. Even the wideouts were getting involved, with Sam Hurd dropping a nice block for Forte downfield.
Springing Forte's first big gain, a 46-yard romp off-tackle right, Omiyale and Davis sealed the edge beautifully while Clutts rounded the outside first and took out the trash, leaving a big lane for Forte into the secondary.
On Forte's 17-yard TD run, the Bears called an off-tackle run to the left. Webb and Davis sealed the edge inside and Garza and Williams pulled outside. Garza blocked the linebacker inside, Williams took out the safety and Forte jogged into the end zone untouched.
Later in the game, Forte sealed the victory with a 40-yard burst outside of the right tackle that was made possible by Louis serving pancakes from the right tackle spot and Davis driving his man outside and away to create the hole.
When Panthers safety Charles Godfrey thought he had the hole filled, Clutts made him a victim and reopened it for Forte.
Two things stand out here.
First, Davis may not be able to pass-block his way out of a wet paper sack, but he is golden when given the opportunity to clear lanes for the running game.
Second, while the Bears have five former first-round picks on their team that were brought in this offseason, Tyler Clutts—an undrafted free-agent fullback from Fresno State—may end up being the best acquisition the Bears made this offseason if he continues to lead the way for the rushing attack the way he did against the Panthers.
If the Bears can figure out how to pass-protect half as well as they block for the ground attack, this offense could get dangerous quickly.