Dan Pompei's film session

Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs were very aggressive versus the run, making good reads and filling their gaps. Urlacher was deployed around the line of scrimmage more than usual.

Both were also factors in the passing game, as each got a hand on one of Newton's passes. Newton found Urlacher in his passing lane a few times.

Safeties

Grade: 7.5

Chris Conte overplayed Steve Smith on the 62-yard pass to Brandon LaFell in the first quarter, but other than that the safeties played a fine game. Conte was penalized for a hit to the head of LaFell in the third quarter, but he did what he should have done on the play.

Both Conte and Major Wright made receivers pay for hits over the middle the way good safeties should. Wright forced a fumble and was outstanding in run support.

Cornerbacks

Grade: 8

Newton threw 16 passes to Smith, and Smith had "wins" against Tim Jennings on five of the plays. That's a pretty good percentage for Jennings, who also landed the knockout punch when Smith slipped and Jennings ended up with an easy pick-six.

Jennings' first interception came with Smith out of the game. This one was a bit of a gift too — Olsen failed to come back for the football while Jennings broke hard.

Jennings broke up three other passes. One of his best plays was preventing LaFell from scoring on his 62-yard play. Jennings looked faster than ever, coming over from the left sideline and making up ground on LaFell and outrunning Conte and Charles Tillman to make the tackle.

Special teams

Grade: 7

Robbie Gould atoned for a missed 33-yard field goal by hitting the 41-yard winner.

But special teams gets a good grade mostly because the presence of Hester scared the Panthers. Because Carolina wouldn't kick off to Hester, the Bears' average starting point after a kickoff was the 34-yard line. Previously this year, the Bears' average starting point after a kickoff was the 24.

dompei@tribune.com

Twitter@danpompei

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