Panthers rally past Bears; Injury hits CCU’s Norman

nfl-newtonIt was wild, it was dramatic and it was just what the Carolina Panthers needed to snap a two-game losing streak.

After falling behind 21-7 to the Chicago Bears in the second quarter, the Panthers came alive by forcing turnovers and scoring touchdowns in the red zone to earn a 31-24 victory at Bank of America Stadium.

“We rediscovered a lot of things,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “That was probably the best part.”

Following safety Thomas DeCoud’s interception of an overthrown pass by Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, Graham Gano converted a 44-yard field goal to tie the game at 24 with 4:29 left in the fourth quarter.

On the first play of the ensuing drive, the Bears handed the ball off to running back Matt Forte who had done it all, rushing for 61 yards and recording 12 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. But the Panthers got the best of Forte in the game’s critical moment.

Cornerback Antoine Cason sized up Forte and stripped the ball, forcing a fumble that defensive tackle Kawann Short recovered at the Bears’ 23-yard line.

“When I saw him lower his shoulder to try to run me over, the first thing I thought was to hold my ground,” Cason said. “Then, when I saw the ball, it was instinct to get it out.”

An 11-yard completion to tight end Greg Olsen on third-and-three set up first-and-goal. On third-and-goal, quarterback Cam Newton faked a handoff to running back Darrin Reaves and fired a 6-yard touchdown to Olsen, who had worked himself open in the slot.

Former Coastal Carolina standout Josh Norman suffered a shoulder injury while making a tackle on Forte in the first half. His status will be updated Monday.

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