Darnell Tabor – 23 Sports

On Sunday, Oct. 18th, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Carolina Panthers (3-2) hosted the Chicago Bears (4-1) in an NFC matchup. 

Coming into the matchup, all five of Chicago’s games thus far have been decided by 8 or fewer points, with their defense being a huge part in securing their 4-1 start, they can also attribute this start to the play of Super Bowl Winning Quarterback Nick Foles. Last week the Bears secured a tightly contested matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where the defense came up with the defense coming up big in the final seconds

The Panthers up to this point have been able to keep themselves above water this season even with the injury to their Superstar Running-Back Christian McCaffrey who went down with a high ankle sprain against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week Two. Last season, McCaffrey accumulated over 1,000 rushing and receiving yards being the third player in NFL history to do so and the first since Marshall Faulk accomplished the feat in 1999. After an 0-2 start to the year, the Panthers rattled off three straight wins which may have come as a surprise to many as they missed McCaffrey in all three of those games. The Panthers would also come into this matchup missing key wide receiver Curtis Samuel and their defense has also taken a hit as they would miss Cornerback Eli Apple and Defensive Tackle Kawann short.

On the first drive of the game, the Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw an interception to Bears safety Tashaun Gipson which set up the Bears with great field position. Three plays later the Bears would have secured the first score of the game as quarterback Nick Foles threw a 9-yard touchdown to rookie tight end Cole Kmet, this would Kmet’s first career touchdown in the NFL.

On the next possession, the Panthers offense would go on a long 14 play 72-yard drive that would be capped off by a 21 yard Joey Slye field goal that would come after a Bears third-down stop inside the Red-Zone.

A couple of series later after punts from both sides the Bears would go on an 11-play, 48-yard drive that would end with a 31 yard Cairo Santos field goal, coming into the matchup Santos would come into the matchup with seven makes for nine attempts.

A drive later, the Panthers would go on another long drive that would be stalled out deep in Chicago territory. On this drive, the Panthers would march 73 yards in 13 plays, and would once again end with a Slye field goal, this time being a 20-yard attempt. 

With a 1:58 left in the half, the Bears offense would go on a 6-play, 38-yard drive that would be capped by a 55-yard field goal by  Santos which would be his longest make this season thus far.

At halftime, the Bears lead the Panthers 13-6, but this score could have looked a lot different if it were not for two red-zone stops and a forced turnover by the Bears defense.

To start the second half, the Bears would punt the ball away, but the next series would regain possession through as the ball was fumbled by Panthers running back Mike Davis, the ball was recovered by the Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks. The fumble was forced by Bears star safety Eddie Jackson.

The very Next play the Panthers would take possession again as  Foles would throw an interception to rookie outside linebacker Jeremy Chinn. This would be Chinn’s first career interception.

The next drive, the Panthers would proceed with a 6-play, 55-yard drive that would end in a missed field goal attempt of 54 yards by Slye, his second miss of the year.

The next two drives would be touchdown drives for both sides as the first score would come after a 10-play, 56-yard drive that would end with a one-yard rush by Bears’ Foles. On the next drive the Panthers would answer back with a touchdown of their own as running back Matt Davis would score on a one-yard touchdown run on fourth down.

The next two drives would both end in scores for both sides except this time they would both be field goals. The first coming from the Bears after a 10-play, 62-yard drive that would end in a 31-yard field goal by Santos. In the next series, the Panthers would respond with a 48-yard field goal by Slye after a 5-play, 35-yard drive from their offense. 

After the score from the Panthers, the Bears were leading by a score of 23-16 with 7:46 remaining in the fourth quarter. The next drive the Panthers defense would force a Bears punt that would set up their offense at their own 17. On the drive, the Panthers would work their way to the Chicago 38 yard line but would turn the ball over after a failed fourth-down conversion.

The Panthers defense would come up big once again forcing another Bears punt. The next play Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would throw a game-sealing interception to Bears safety DeAndre Houston-Carson this would be Bridgewater’s second interception of the day and the Bears third takeaway of the day.

The Bears would survive the Panthers by a score of 23-16, the Bears defense would capture four sacks, force one fumble and snag two interceptions while their offense struggled to find success on the ground while compiling only 63 rushing yards. Foles ended the game with 198 yards, one touchdown, one interception and had 23 completions on his 39 attempts.

The Panthers would hold the Bears rushing attack to only 63 yards on a day while forcing one turnover, a Foles interception. Bridgewater would end the game with 216 yards, two interceptions and had 16 completions on 29 attempts. Panthers receiver D.J. Moore would end the day with five receptions with 93 receiving yards.

The Bears would go on to improve to 5-1 as next week they take on the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football, while the Carolina Panthers would fall to 3-3 as next week they travel to New Orleans to take on their Division Rival the Saints.

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