To most, the Thursday Night Football game between the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears would be a snooze fest, worth watching only because most will observe Veteran’s Day with a day off from work and school on Friday. Carolina limped into Soldier Field sporting a 1-7 record and an ever-growing list of players on Injured Reserve. While the Bears would be without starting quarterback Justin Fields, they did have the Panthers’ top two offensive weapons from last season in wide receiver DJ Moore and running back D’Onta Foreman. To add insult to injury those are areas that the Panthers offense has struggled in this season – establishing the run and having some consistency in the receiving corps.
One of the bright spots this season had been Adam Thielen. However, for some reason, the offense shifted away from what was working for the past two games. Questions arose around Ihmir Smith-Marsette not getting any burn at wide receiver. After liking a series of tweets, Smith-Marsette opened the game with a bang; returning the Bears’ second punt of the game 79 yards for a touchdown. Chicago responded with 54-yard field goal by Cairo Santos to get within 4 points with 2:29 to play in the second quarter. On Carolina’s next possession, Eddy Pineiro’s 33 yard field goal pushed the lead back to 7 with 13:33 left in the first half. The Panthers offense sputtered and their next five possessions would all end in punts. Meanwhile, the Bears weren’t all that more productive as far as touchdowns would go, but they managed to chip away at the lead with a pair of field goals. Santos booted a 39-yarder to bring Chicago within one point at the half.
The second half brought on more attrition, with Foreman’s 4-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter being the only offensive touchdown of the night. The score put Chicago up 16-10 and with the way the night was going, there was little doubt that it would be enough for the win; even with 6:33 left in the third quarter. Carolina got a great opportunity when a shanked punt put the ball at the Chicago 40 yard line. Back to back penalties flipped the field and the Panthers were facing first-and-thirty from their own 40 yard line. That drive ended in a field goal and the final points for the night. Trailing 16-13, Carolina drove to the Bears’ 41 yard line. On fourth-and-ten, with 1:40 left in the game, the Panthers elected to send Pineiro out to attempt a 59-yard field goal at Soldier Field. The kick fell well short and Carolina fell to 1-8. Pouring salt into the wound, the loss further cements a top-3 pick for the Bears; which was acquired in the trade up to No. 1 to draft Bryce Young. The road doesn’t get easier with the Dallas Cowboys coming into Bank of America on Sunday.