It sometimes has seemed this Bears season like David Montgomery's number would never get called.
When it finally happened Sunday, the rookie running back responded with his first 100-yard game, a breakaway run to set up a field goal and the only Bears touchdown on the day in a 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Montgomery came in with only 231 yards on the year. But a 135-yard day on 27 carries brought to Montgomery's mind some advice coach Matt Nagy gave him at one point during what had been a sluggish start to his career.
"Just as he said, be patient, whenever your opportunity comes you've got to try to be ready for it," Montgomery said. "I just tried to make sure I took advantage of every opportunity today."
Montgomery's 55-yard run was the first 50-yard run for any Bear since Oct. 15, 2017 when Jordan Howard did it against Baltimore in a win. Montgomery's only regret was how the play ended, when he was tracked down from behind at the Chargers' 15.
"I just seen a hole and then I hit it," Montgomery said. "Then I got caught.'
The 135 yards rushing was the most by a Bears back since that game, as well.
"Everything just was clicking today in the run game," Montgomery said. "My O-Line blocked their ass off. You know, it just was going our way. We just came up short."
Montgomery benefited from use of the I-formation on occasion, with tight end J.P. Holtz lining up at fullback. What once was a basic NFL alignment has barely been used by the Bears until Sunday's game.
"It means an extra blocker in the backfield," tackle Bobby Massie said.
While an improvement, the commitment to the run wasn't perfect. The Bears handed Montgomery the ball just four times on 13 plays started within the red zone in the second quarter, when they scored only nine points. When they gave it to him in the third quarter out of the I-formation again, Montgomery scored on a 4-yard run.
On most of the plays in the red zone, the Bears were running out of a spread formation.
"The formula was what the formula was," Montgomery said. "We were just going with the game. Some games are run. Some games are pass. You just go with what works. The play calling was awesome today. Everybody did their part."
The big rushing day might not say much for the future. It came against a defense missing its top two defensive tackles, Brandon Mebane and Justin Jones, due to injuries.
"They started out playing certain personnel to what we did, and our guys blocked well, and (Montgomery), you guys saw, he ran hard," Nagy said. "He runs hard. He's a hard runner."