CHICAGO -- Despite allowing Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler to be sacked six times by the 1-6 Carolina Panthers, right tackle Gabe Carimi refused to say the offensive line suffered a setback Sunday.
"I don't want to use the word setback," Carimi said after the Bears’ 23-22 win. "But maybe (it's) a check that we have to keep on working as hard as we have to keep producing as we want to. So it's more of check that we have to keep on working hard. We're not the O-line we know we can be. But when we are, we can be a good O-line unit."
The Bears' offensive line appeared to have made strides in recent weeks and was beginning to build some confidence during a four-game win streak. On Sunday, that confidence quickly was challenged as Carolina sacked Cutler on the game's first play. Cutler was sacked five more times before the half.
"I didn’t realize it was six sacks until now,"” Bears coach Lovie Smith said following the game. "That's too many, of course. Without looking at the video, it would be hard for me to say. Normally, it's a combination of both (Cutler not getting the ball away quickly enough and offensive line miscues). So it's something we'll definitely have to correct.”
According to Bears center Robert Garza, the Panthers knew exactly where to attack.
"We've seen it,” Garza said. “We just didn't adjust to it well offensive-line wise. They were moving the guys, slanting, stuff like that. We just have to do a better job of blocking the guys and making the adjustments. ... They were ready for us. They did a hell of a job.
"You talk about what's going on, what they're doing and what we needed to do to execute. But I think it comes down to the last ones we didn'’t execute. We weren'’t staying on our guys. We weren’t finishing every play. It’'s something we’ve been doing well the last couple weeks and for some reason we didn'’t do the technique.”
Cutler and the line did make some necessary adjustments in the second half, and the offense accounted for 10 points in the fourth quarter to rally after trailing 19-9.
“We just kept fighting,” Garza said. “We were able to pull it out in the end. But obviously there’s a lot of things we need to do better.”
On the final drive, the Bears covered 55 yards on nine plays, and Robbie Gould kicked a 41-yard, game-winning field goals as time expired.
“The main thing was we battled through it and at the end we got that fourth-quarter drive that we needed,” Carimi said. “Obviously we want to produce all the time, but it’s one of those of games where it seemed like we weren’t doing anything right, so to put together the drive we needed to do and have the defense help us out when they can score it was a huge for the win.
“Every game you have to take the positives with the negatives. We’ll have to look at all the negatives on this film and correct it and play Tennessee next week and just get that back going.”
Cutler felt like some of the sacks were his fault.
“I mean I always feel like I can avoid them,” Cutler said. “Didn’t move as well as I thought I wanted to. I need to take a look at the film and see where the holes were. I kept asking (Jeremy Bates) and (Jason Campbell) if I was staying in there too long or what the deal is. We just have to take a look at the offensive film and talk to the offensive line to see their take on it and fix it on Tuesday.
“We ran the ball (in the second half.) I got rid of the ball. I think we started getting some timing patterns and just trying to get rid of the ball. We weren’t even going to mess with the O-line. (I) wanted to get rid of it before they even got back to me. (We) made some adjustments, I think Mike Tice did a good job of handling that game though he was calling good stuff early on, we just weren’t executing them.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera believed the Bears’ offensive adjustments were an indication of them being an experienced team.
“I thought our pass rush was good,” Rivera said. “I thought they did a nice job for us. They got after them early.
"But as I commented earlier, they started throwing the ball a little bit quicker. Jay started getting the ball out of his hands. When you have a quarterback like that who understands and gets it, they’re going to make plays and beat you. That’s the difference between who they are right now and who we are. Teams like (the Bears) are going to win these kind of games . Teams like us are learning how to win them. That’s the big thing. I’m telling you -- this Bears’ team seems to be on a solid roll right now. Eventually, we may get that opportunity, too.”