Even on Bad Ankle, Forte Delivers

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Byline: Bob LeGere rlegere@dailyherald.com

DETROIT -- Matt Forte, playing on a right ankle that was sprained last week for the third time this season, went past 1,000 rushing yards for the year in the first quarter and then kept going.

Forte finished with 103 yards on 24 carries, including a 1-yard TD run, helping the Bears barely outlast the Lions.

"It all starts with Matt Forte running the football," center Roberto Garza said. "He was unbelievable, coming in with that ankle sprain. He really set the tempo for us, and we were able to feed off that."

Forte's touchdown put the Bears ahead 17-3, and he finished the regular season with 1,094 yards on 248 carries (4.4-yard average).

Forte also went 18 yards with a screen pass in the first quarter after making a nifty cut and eluding a pair of tacklers, and he recovered a fumble by Jay Cutler.

Forte exceeded 1,000 yards for the third time in his five NFL seasons. He already had 997 yards by Game 12 last season but suffered a season-ending sprained knee.

On Sunday Forte credited his blockers for keeping him healthy.

"It's still sore," he said of the ankle, "but the whole first half and most of the third quarter, I never got hit on it, so I was fortunate enough to be healthy out there."

Under wraps:

The Lions' Calvin Johnson needed "just" 108 yards Sunday -- 49 fewer than he had averaged in his last eight games -- to become the first NFL receiver to get 2,000 in a season.

He didn't get close, as Bears cornerback Charles Tillman limited him to 5 catches for 72 yards, even though he was targeted by quarterback Matthew Stafford 14 times.

"Peanut (Tillman) and Tim (Jennings), they're the best in the business," linebacker Lance Briggs said of the Pro Bowl corners. "They're all-stars for a reason."

In the first meeting with the Bears, Johnson had his worst game of the season with 3 catches for 34 yards. Most of the credit goes to Tillman who was named to his second straight Pro Bowl last week, but he had help.

"It's hard to shut down Calvin Johnson completely," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. …