October 01, 2014

As poorly as things have gone for the Chicago Bears at home, the club has managed to fare well on the road through the first quarter of the season.

Looking to improve to 3-0 away from home for the first time in eight seasons, the Bears try to hand the Carolina Panthers a third straight defeat Sunday.

After scoring 21 fourth-quarter points to win 28-20 at San Francisco in Week 2 and beating the New York Jets 27-19 a week later, Chicago (2-2) allowed Aaron Rodgers to throw for 302 yards and four touchdowns in last Sunday's 38-17 home loss to Green Bay.

"It's always hard to go on the road, especially in the NFL, coast-to-coast and win two games," running back Matt Forte told the Bears' official website. "For us to drop two games at home, that leaves a bad taste in your mouth."

The Bears certainly won't panic considering they have a chance to open with three straight road wins for the first time since going 5-0 in 2006.

"It's early in the season," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "We have a lot of football left to play.''

Cutler has been the poster boy for the Bears' inconsistency.

He's completed 67.5 percent of his passes in two home games but has thrown four touchdowns and four interceptions while posting an 84.7 rating. On the road, Cutler has a 63.9 completion percentage but has thrown six TDs without a pick for a 106.3 rating.

This will be Cutler's first road game against Carolina with the Bears. He posted a 69.5 rating while throwing a TD and two INTs in home victories over current Panthers coach and former Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera in 2011 and 2012.

Forte has averaged 6.3 yards per carry in four games against the Panthers, and rushed for 166 and two TDs during a 23-6 victory in Chicago's most recent visit to Charlotte in 2010.

He gained 122 yards on 23 carries against the Packers after being held to 136 on 42 attempts in the first three games.

"That's how we should run the ball," Forte said after Chicago rushed for 235 yards last week.

The Bears could be in for more ground success against a Panthers team that ranks 27th in the league with 140.8 rushing yards allowed per contest. Carolina (2-2) ranked second at 86.9 last season.

"Stopping the run is simple," linebacker Luke Kuechly said. "If you're not in your gaps, they are going to rush you. If you're in your gaps, they can't run the ball. It's cliché, and as easy as it sounds, that's what it comes down to."

The Panthers have allowed 75 points the last two weeks after yielding 21 over the first two. They gave up an average of 201.7 passing yards in the first three games before Joe Flacco threw for 327 in last Sunday's 38-10 loss at Baltimore.

Getting the pass defense back on track might be difficult against a Bears team that boasts three players with at least 20 receptions, not including Brandon Marshall, who has 16 but with five touchdowns.

Tight end Martellus Bennett leads the way with 29 catches for 295 yards and four TDs.

Though Chicago's often-maligned defense held the Packers to 56 rushing yards, it gave up at least 300 through the air for the second straight contest.

With end Jared Allen sidelined by a bout of pneumonia, the Bears had one sack and struggled to pressure Rodgers after recording seven total sacks against the 49ers and Jets. Allen is confident he will be ready to face Carolina, which could be forced to take to the air often because of a decimated backfield.

With DeAngelo Williams (ankle) out, Mike Tolbert (leg) on short-term injured reserve and Jonathan Stewart (knee) doubtful, Fozzy Whittaker, undrafted rookie Darrin Reaves and recently signed Chris Ogbonnaya will split carries.

''I'm starting to be able to live my dreams out, and that's a good feeling,'' said Reaves, who carried 12 times for 26 yards against the Ravens. ''Not under the circumstances we have, with so many guys dinged up, but it's still a good feeling.''

Cam Newton has yet to throw an interception in three games but has only three TDs through the air and has been sacked nine times. He's completed 55.3 percent of his passes with one TD and three INTs in his two losses to the Bears.

Rookie Kelvin Benjamin, however, has caught 21 passes for 329 yards and three TDs, including one in both of the last two contests.

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