The Series: With the 34-29 victory, Chicago defeated Carolina for the second consecutive time and leads the all-time series 4-3, which includes a 29-21 win by the Panthers in the 2005 NFC Divisional Playoffs (1/15/06).
For Starters: Darius Butler started at cornerback in place of Chris Gamble, who was inactive with a concussion suffered versus Jacksonville (9/25/11). This represented Butler's first start for Carolina after being claimed off waivers (9/7/11) from New England, where he made eight starts from 2009-10. Also, strong safety Charles Godfrey returned to the lineup after being inactive with a concussion versus Jacksonville (9/25/11).
Total Offense: Carolina amassed a team-record 543 yards of total offense with 374 yards passing and 169 yards rushing, bettering the previous mark of 483 yards at Washington (10/3/99). The Panthers have gained at least 400 yards three times this season, producing three of the five highest yardage totals in franchise history, including 477 yards at Arizona (9/11/11) and 475 yards versus Green Bay (9/18/11).
Smith Tops Receiving Chart: Wide receiver Steve Smith became the Panthers' all-time leading receiver with 9,414 yards, surpassing the 9,255 by Muhsin Muhammad from 1996-2004 and 2008-09. He set the record on a 53-yard reception in the first quarter. Remarkably, Smith did it with 57 fewer catches than Muhammad (639 compared to 696). Smith also ranks first in team history with 62 total touchdowns [54 pass, 6 return, 2 run], 54 receiving touchdowns, 14.62 receiving average, and 35 games with 100 or more receiving yards and stands second with 644 receptions and 374 points scored.
Smith finished the game with a team-high eight catches for 181 yards to post his third 100-yard receiving performance this season. He compiled 178 yards in the season opener at Arizona (9/11/11) and 156 yards versus Green Bay (9/18/11). The 181 yards are the third-highest total of Smith's career behind a team-record 201 yards versus Minnesota (10/30/05) and 189 yards at Baltimore (10/15/06). He leads the Panthers with 24 receptions for 530 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Chicago On Smith's Mind: In four career meetings (including the playoffs) versus the Bears, wide receiver Steve Smith has hauled in 38 catches for 665 yards and two touchdowns - an average of 9.5 receptions and 166.3 yards per game. This marked Smith's third consecutive game with eight or more catches and 169 or more receiving yards against the Bears after tallying a team-record 14 receptions for 169 yards at Chicago (11/20/05) and 12 catches for 218 yards in the 2005 NFC Divisional Playoffs at Chicago (1/15/06).
Streaking: Tight end Jeremy Shockey and wide receiver Steve Smith extended their consecutive game streaks with a catch. Shockey finished the game with two receptions for 41 yards and has caught a pass in all 125 regular season games he has played. Smith, who snagged a team-leading eight catches for 181 yards, has posted a catch in 63 consecutive games, the third-longest streak in team history behind Wesley Walls' 70 games from 1996-2001 and his own 68 games from 2002-06.
Newton By Air: Rookie quarterback Cam Newton completed 27-of-46 passes for 374 yards - the fourth most in team history - and one touchdown with one interception to produce an 83.1 quarterback rating. He threw a three-yard touchdown to tight end Greg Olsen in the fourth quarter.
The starter in all four games this season, Newton has completed 97-of-163 passes for 1,386 yards and five touchdowns with five interceptions to compile an 84.5 quarterback rating. His 1,386 passing yards are an NFL rookie record through four games.
Newton By Ground: Quarterback Cam Newton tied a team record for the most rushing touchdowns in a game by a quarterback with two, previously accomplished by Chris Weinke at New Orleans (12/2/01). He scored on runs of one yard and two yards in the second quarter and finished the game with 35 yards on eight attempts. In four games, Newton has already set a team record for the most rushing yards in a season by a quarterback with 133, exceeding the previous mark of 128 yards by Weinke in 2001, to go along with four touchdowns on 33 carries.
Double Trouble: Running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined to rush for 134 yards on 18 attempts. Williams compiled a team-high 82 yards on 10 carries and leads the Panthers with 143 yards on 37 attempts this season. Stewart carried eight times for 52 yards and added four catches for 33 yards. He ranks second on the team with 142 yards on 31 attempts this season and is tied for second with 17 receptions for a career-high 173 yards.
Offensive Line Paves The Way, Provides Protection: Behind an offensive line featuring Jordan Gross at left tackle, Travelle Wharton at left guard, Ryan Kalil at center, Geoff Hangartner at right guard, and Jeff Otah and Byron Bell at right tackle, the Panthers generated a season-high 169 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 26 attempts - an average of 6.5 yards per carry. The offensive front allowed no sacks for the second consecutive game, the first time that Carolina did not surrender a sack in consecutive games since 2008 versus Denver (12/14/08) and at the New York Giants (12/21/08).
Takeaway/Giveaway: Carolina forced one turnover on an interception when safety Charles Godfrey picked off a pass by Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in the fourth quarter. The Panthers turned it over once on an interception to finish with an even turnover ratio. The one takeaway resulted in no points for Carolina, and the one giveaway led to seven points for Chicago. The Panthers have a negative-two turnover ratio this season, compiling a 1-0 record when having a positive turnover margin, an 0-2 record when being even in turnover margin, and an 0-1 record when having a negative turnover margin.
No Passing Zone: The Panthers limited the Bears to just nine completions, 93 net yards passing and five passing first downs. The nine completions are the fourth fewest given up in team history.
Last season versus Chicago (10/10/10), Carolina set team records for the fewest passing first downs allowed with two and fewest net yards passing allowed with 29 in addition to yielding just eight completions.
Sakrete Sacks: The Panthers collected one sack against Chicago. Defensive end Charles Johnson gathered a sack for the fourth consecutive game, dropping Bears quarterback Jay Cutler for a nine-yard loss in the second quarter. He leads Carolina with four sacks this year after recording a team- and career-high 11.5 sacks in 2010. Dating back to last season, Johnson has registered a sack in 10 of his last 11 games, corralling 12 sacks in that span.
During the 2011 season, Sakrete, a leader in concrete and concrete-related products, is donating $100 to the BVC Playground Build for every sack Carolina records. Through four games, the Panthers have gathered six sacks, raising $600.
Mare Kicks Up The Charts: Kicker Olindo Mare kicked three field goals to move into a tie with Steve Christie for 15th place in NFL history for the most field goals with 336. He also ranks 18th all-time with 1,451 points scored.
Against Chicago, he made both of his extra point chances and connected on three-of-five field goal attempts, converting from 29, 39 and 38 yards. He had a 34-yard attempt blocked by Bears defensive end Julius Peppers and hit the crossbar from 52 yards out. Mare last had a field goal blocked in 2007 for New Orleans versus Carolina (10/7/07). Ironically, Peppers blocked that kick, too.
He has been successful all seven of his extra point opportunities and eight-of-10 field goal attempts for a team-leading 31 points this season.
Mare reached the end zone on five-of-seven kickoffs with three touchbacks. On the two kickoffs that did not go into the end zone, one occurred on the final play of the first half and the other was a squib kick on the last play of the game. He has placed 15-of-21 kickoffs in the end zone with 10 touchbacks this season. Since 1997, Mare leads the NFL with 248 touchbacks.
Claw Marks: Rookie wide receiver Kealoha Pilares made his NFL debut after being inactive for the first three games...The following seven players were inactive for the Panthers: tight end Richie Brockel, quarterback Jimmy Clausen, cornerback Chris Gamble, defensive tackle Frank Kearse, defensive tackle Andre Neblett, linebacker Jason Phillips, and tackle Lee Ziemba.
Bear Tracks: Chicago cornerback D.J. Moore scored on a 20-yard interception return in the first quarter. It marked the first interception return for a touchdown by an opponent since Lofa Tatupu for Seattle (12/5/10)...Bears wide receiver Devin Hester returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to set an NFL record with 11 career punt return touchdowns. It represented the second punt return touchdown against the Panthers this season, previously accomplished by Patrick Peterson for Arizona (9/11/11)...Chicago defensive end Julius Peppers blocked a 34-yard field goal attempt by Olindo Mare in the third quarter. It was the first blocked field goal by an opponent since Chauncey Davis had one for Atlanta (11/15/09)...Bears running back Matt Forte's 205 yards rushing are the second most by an individual against the Panthers behind Derrick Ward's 215 yards for the New York Giants (12/21/08). Forte previously set a career high with 166 yards last year at Carolina (10/10/10).