Final

Bears 17

(1-1, 1-1 away)

Panthers 20

(2-0, 1-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, September 14, 2008

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC 

1 2 3 4 T
CHI 7 3 7 017
CAR 0 3 10 720

Top Performers

Passing: K. Orton (CHI) - 149 YDS

Rushing: M. Forte (CHI) - 23 CAR, 92 YDS

Receiving: B. Lloyd (CHI) - 5 REC, 66 YDS

Panthers RB Stewart leads second-half comeback past Bears

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C -- The latest jarring hit by the Chicago Bears left Jake Delhomme holding his head and the Carolina Panthers staring at yet another home flop.

As Delhomme wobbled to the sideline with the Panthers trailing by two touchdowns in the third quarter Sunday, ex-Bear Chris Harris was fed up.

Fast Facts

• The Panthers started the season 2-0 for the first time since 2003 but won those two games by a combined five points.

• The Bears gained 151 yards on their first two drives with eight first downs, scoring once and fumbling once. They then gained 105 yards on their final 11 drives of the game, with just four first downs.

• Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart scored his first two NFL touchdowns, both in the second half. He finished with 77 yards on 14 carries, good for 5.5 yards per carry.

-- ESPN research

"I gathered everybody up and told them, 'Hey, we aren't going to take that,'" the safety said.

They didn't. Harris, Delhomme and rookie running back Jonathan Stewart led a stirring comeback for a 20-17 win that gave the Panthers an unlikely 2-0 start.

Harris forced a fumble on the next possession that led the first of Stewart's two touchdown runs, the second of which was the go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter.

"I felt it should have been a penalty but it wasn't," Harris said of Lance Briggs' shoulder-to-helmet hit as Delhomme began to slide following a scramble in the middle of the field. "I told them we're not taking it. It turned into more than a game at that. Guys were upset. After that we got after it."

After going 7-9 without Delhomme last season, the Panthers stunned San Diego last week with Delhomme's touchdown pass on the final play. But for more than a half Carolina looked like the 2007 edition that went 2-6 at home.

Then, just as the Panthers looked intent on extending a streak of four straight losses in home openers, Briggs' hit completely changed the game.

Suddenly Carolina's defense made big plays, including a fourth-down stop with under 2 minutes left to seal the win, as Delhomme shook off the effects of the hit to make it 2-for-2 in fourth-quarter comebacks following reconstructive elbow surgery.

And they did it without their three-time Pro Bowl receiver. Steve Smith's suspension for sucker-punching teammate Ken Lucas in training camp ends Monday.

"I'm excited to have our rocket back," said Delhomme, who threw for 128 yards. "It's great to be 2-0."

The Bears (1-1) couldn't build off last week's impressive win in Indianapolis, despite 92 yards rushing from rookie Matt Forte. Kyle Orton didn't have a turnover for a second straight game, but passed for only 149 yards and consistently overthrew receivers.

Tight end Greg Olsen lost two fumbles and kick returner Devin Hester was sidelined with an apparent rib injury in the third quarter.

Chicago's chances ended when Na'il Diggs, Julius Peppers and Damione Lewis combined to stop Jason McKie on fourth-and-1 from midfield.

"A disappointing loss," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Whenever you have control of the football game like that, you've got to be able to finish."

The Bears built a 17-3 lead early in the third quarter behind their ferocious defense. Charles Tillman intercepted Delhomme's pass that bounced off tight end Jeff King and it quickly led to McKie's 1-yard touchdown run.

Chicago Carolina

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On the next possession, Briggs leveled Delhomme, who ripped off his helmet and grabbed his head. No penalty was called, and John Kasay kicked a 45-yard field goal on the next play.

The Panthers got back in it on the next possession, behind Harris. In his first game against Chicago since being traded for a fifth-round pick during training camp last year, Harris stripped the ball from Olsen. Chris Gamble recovered at the Chicago 21, and Stewart's first NFL touchdown -- a tough 4-yard run -- made it 17-13.

It was Harris' second forced fumble this season after he had an NFL-best eight in 2007.

"Anytime you have two critical errors that lead to your team losing, it's tough to swallow," Olsen said.

Stewart's 1-yard TD run with 3:52 left put the Panthers ahead for the first time. Delhomme was 3-for-3 for 43 yards on the drive, which included a bruising 11-yard rush by Stewart.

The 13th pick in the draft, Stewart had only one carry for 1 yard in the first half. But he took over for DeAngelo Williams after halftime, and the Panthers overcame a heat index around 100 degrees with a win that had some players thinking Carolina could become a player in the NFC again after a two-year playoff drought.

"We really think we're a different team this year," tackle Jordan Gross said. "We've had two close games, two nail-biters and we were able to win both of them. It just adds onto the belief that we've got what it takes to win a few games."

Game notes


Smith said he did not know the severity of Hester's injury. ... The Bears took a 7-0 lead 2 minutes in when Jason Baker's punt was blocked by Darrell McClover and Brandon Lloyd returned it 9 yards for a TD. ... Geoff Hangartner started at left guard for Carolina in place of Travelle Wharton (knee).

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
CHI
CAR
1st Downs1212
Passing 1st downs
64
Rushing 1st downs
68
1st downs from penalties
00
3rd down efficiency
6-152-13
4th down efficiency
0-10-0
Total Plays6255
Total Yards256216
Yards per play4.13.9
Total Drives1414
Passing141102
Comp-Att
19-3212-21
Yards per pass
4.34.3
Interceptions thrown
01
Sacks-Yards Lost
1-83-26
Rushing115114
Rushing Attempts
2931
Yards per rush
4.03.7
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-22-3
Penalties12-8610-65
Turnovers21
Fumbles lost
20
Interceptions thrown
01
Defensive / Special Teams TDs10
Possession28:1531:45

Passing Leaders

CHIC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Orton19/321494.7001-8
CARC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Delhomme12/211286.1013-26

Rushing Leaders

CHICARYDSAVGTDLG
Forte23924.0018
Davis11717.0017
CARCARYDSAVGTDLG
Stewart14775.5224
Williams11312.808

Receiving Leaders

CHIRECYDSAVGTDLG
Lloyd56613.2032
Forte3217.009
CARRECYDSAVGTDLG
Muhammad55911.8033
King22914.5023

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERCHICAR
chiTD13:06Brandon Lloyd, 9 yd blocked punt return (Robbie Gould kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 3 yds, 2:00
70
SECOND QUARTERCHICAR
chiFG9:15Robbie Gould 26 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 17 plays, 84 yds, 7:51
100
carFG0:14John Kasay 37 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, 4 yds, 1:09
103
THIRD QUARTERCHICAR
chiTD9:25Jason McKie, 1 yd run (Robbie Gould kick is good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 23 yds, 1:55
173
carFG5:27John Kasay 45 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 52 yds, 4:00
176
carTD2:22Jonathan Stewart, 4 yd run (John Kasay kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 26 yds, 2:47
1713
FOURTH QUARTERCHICAR
carTD3:56Jonathan Stewart, 1 yd run (John Kasay kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 55 yds, 2:54
1720