Chicago’s last chance comes on fourth and 1 from the 50 yard line with two minutes remaining.
The Bears trail 20-17. If they pick up the first down, they have a chance to drive for a field goal to tie the game or maybe the touchdown to win it.
Middle linebacker Jon Beason calls the players together before the play. He’s animated.
The defense is his as much as anybody’s.
Jason McKie, 247 pounds, attempts to pound up the middle. The Panthers already are there. If there’s such a thing as a team tackle, this is it. In the middle of the pile is
Carolina’s Maake Kemoeatu, 345 pounds. Linebacker Na’ail Diggs also is there.
It would be easier to tell you the Panthers that didn’t lead the push or make the tackle.
They stuffed McKie, ran out the clock and came back from the dead, beating the Bears 20-17.
Kemoeatu jumped up and down, up and down. John Fox ran onto the field with his arms outstretched, not as demonstrative as he was after the victory in San Diego but just as emotional.
But the man who called the defense together, Beason, did the best dance, moving to the music on the sideline. He was entitled.
Would the Panthers have won this game a season ago?
To win, they needed this offensive line, this defense, a healthy Jake Delhomme and a rookie running back, Jonathan Stewart.
Last season, they wouldn’t have had a chance.
This season, all things seem possible.