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Bears notebook: Banged-up Bears unable to finish

RUNNING BACKS:
B Matt Forte (21-66) Michael Bush (7-39) made most tough sledding. Forte also caught 3 passes for 30 yards including

RUNNING BACKS: B Matt Forte (21-66) and Michael Bush (7-39) made the most of tough sledding. Forte also caught 3 passes for 30 yards, including a 12-yard TD for a 14-10 lead.

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Updated: February 1, 2013 1:53AM



The Bears are 8-4 and still in playoff contention after losing to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. But they’re starting to lose the war of attrition.

Four more starters didn’t finish the 23-17 overtime loss: middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (hamstring), cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder), safety Chris Conte (illness) and wide receiver Earl Bennett (concussion).

Six players didn’t finish last week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, with three unable to play against the Seahawks: guards Lance Louis (knee) and Chris Spencer (knee) and wide receiver Devin Hester (concussion).

For a team that was unusually healthy earlier in the season, injuries are starting to add up — and at the wrong time.

“We’re concerned,’’ defensive end Julius Peppers said. ‘‘We need everybody on the field. We’ve got to get everybody healthy, and we have to have some guys on the second line step up.’’

Last man standing

Brandon Marshall might not be just Jay Cutler’s main target. Before long, he might be his only target.

Bennett, who caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Cutler in the first quarter and dropped a potential 62-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, missed the second half with a concussion.

With Alshon Jeffery (knee) and Devin Hester (concussion) already missing, the Bears were down to three wide receivers — Marshall, Eric Weems and Dane Sanzenbacher. Marshall caught 10 passes for 165 yards. Weems had one catch for 18 yards. Bennett’s touchdown was the only other reception for the wide receivers.

‘‘Guys are falling down and getting a little bit of the injury bug. Some guys are getting knocked out,’’ Cutler said.

Matt’s forte

After gaining just 14 yards on eight carries in the first half, Matt Forte gained 52 yards on 13 carries in the second half to finish with 66 yards on 21 carries. But he also caught three passes for 30 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown when he lined up wide on third-and-four in the third quarter.

Why can’t the Bears do that more often? Coming into the game, Forte had 27 catches for 184 yards, 47 of them on a screen pass against the Titans.

A day of firsts

The Bears lost despite leading after the first quarter for the first time this season (6-1) and only the second time with Cutler at quarterback (21-2).

◆The Bears lost when leading after three quarters for the first time this season (7-1) and only the second time in the last three seasons (22-2).

◆They lost for the first time this season despite a positive turnover differential (7-1).

◆Cutler lost for the first time with a 100-plus passer rating. Cutler was 17-for-26 for 233 yards, two touchdowns for a 119.6 rating.

◆The Bears lost for the first time this season when they scored first (6-1).

Outfoxed?

The final play of the game typified the kind of day it was for the Bears, when Russell Wilson got out of the pocket and hit Sidney Rice for a 13-yard touchdown pass.

‘‘They called a good play versus a defense that had a little window in there,’’ said Bears linebacker Geno Hayes, who replaced an injured Urlacher on that play. ‘‘It was one of those plays where you try to lock guys down. But once the quarterback moves around, guys can get open on that side.’’



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