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This guy's a rookie?
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte celebrates after scoring on a 13-yard touchdown run during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams.

 

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Published: 11/24/2008 12:15 AM

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ST. LOUIS - So much for running back Matt Forte hitting "the rookie wall."

That figurative roadblock supposedly afflicts NFL neophytes when they get close to the end of their first NFL season - which is longer and more physically and mentally draining than what they experience in college.

Forte turned in his most productive rushing day as a pro Sunday against the Rams, picking up a personal-best 132 yards on 20 carries and scoring on runs of 13 and 47 yards.

Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner wasn't at all surprised by Forte's performance.

"He's very poised, very intelligent, got great composure, nothing rattles him, he's got a lot of pride, and he's got a tremendous work ethic," Turner said. "That's why he plays at a high level consistently. I think it is unusual for a rookie, and he's been that way since the first day he got here."

The second-round pick from Tulane said the Bears' offensive game plan for the Rams was pretty basic.

"Run the football and go straight at them," Forte said. "They give a lot of different looks and we had basic runs in there to pound the ball up the middle and get yardage."

Forte's 47-yard TD run put the Bears ahead 14-0. It was his longest run of the season since a 50-yard TD gallop against the Colts in the season opener.

Forte also maintained his team lead with 2 catches for 14 yards, giving him 45 receptions for 336 yards to complement 909 rushing yards on 225 carries.

His 9 touchdowns are triple the total of any teammate.

"He's a rookie who plays like a veteran," said six-time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz. "He hits the holes hard, he finds the holes, and he makes us look better than we are."

Forte downplayed his role in the Bears' most productive rushing day in three seasons.

"I just run through the holes, and they do the dirty work up front," he said of an offensive line that controlled the Rams' defense at the line of scrimmage all afternoon. "Those guys move the big guys up front, and I just try to run through the holes and make somebody miss. We were pushing them off the ball at the point of attack, and even downfield we had receivers blocking, and that's how we get big runs. That's why I had such a good day."

Sunday was Forte's third 100-yard effort this season, following 123 in the opener and 126 three weeks ago against the Lions. His 6.6-yard average Sunday was also his best of the season.

"He did great; he made some great cuts out there," said offensive left tackle John St. Clair. "The sky's the limit for that guy."