Bears’ Forte Sees a Balanced Approach Against the Seahawks

Matt Forte does not see that happening again.

The Bears will meet Seattle in a divisional playoff at Soldier Field on Sunday after orchestrating a turnaround that led to the N.F.C. North championship and a first-round bye.

Forte was a big part of that.

He ran for 717 yards over the final nine games — averaging 4.9 yards per carry, eighth in the league in that span — and if the Bears are going to beat the , Forte said they would need to go with the same approach that led to their first playoff appearance in four years. That means more balance.

“I don’t think we have a choice,” Forte said. “We can’t go out and do what we did last time and throw the ball 40 or 50 times and run the ball 10 times. We have to have a balanced offense.”

It was hard to envision any of this after the first meeting between these teams in October. The Seahawks won, 23-20, at Soldier Field, sending Chicago to its second loss in a 1-3 stretch that nearly ruined its season.

Forte was fifth in the at 5.8 yards per carry over the final six games, and his career-high 4.5 average for the season was the best by a Bears running back with 200 attempts since Neal Anderson in 1989 (4.7).

The late surge gave Forte 1,069 yards rushing to go with 547 receiving, putting him alongside as the only Chicago players with at least 1,000 and 500 in the same season.

“In the last five games, I don’t know if there’s a back playing better,” the offensive coordinator said. “He has always been really good, been very impressive, but about five weeks ago something happened.”

HASSELBECK RETURNING? Seattle Coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks would like to bring quarterback Matt Hasselbeck back for the 2011 season.

Asked directly about Hasselbeck’s future with the franchise during his weekly news conference, Carroll said the team would like to do “everything we can” to have Hasselbeck return for an 11th season with the franchise.

“We don’t know the timelines or how that’s going to work out, and all that kind of stuff, but that’s a big issue for us that we’re looking forward to,” Carroll said. “He’s had a terrific run for us, and we want to see what we can do to keep that going.”

PENALTIES Green Bay Packers Coach Mike McCarthy would emphasize penalties in practice and talk about discipline, only to watch the yellow flags fly again the next Sunday.

More than three years’ worth of Packers penalty problems hit an all-time low in Week 3 this season, a miserable 18-penalty performance in a loss at Chicago.

Since then, one of the league’s most penalty-prone teams suddenly became one of its most disciplined. Green Bay ended the regular season with 78 accepted penalties, tying for third-best in the N.F.L.

“We’ve taken a different path this year,” McCarthy said. “They’ve had a lot of adversity, and they’ve done really a great job of buckling down on the discipline penalties.”

Now the bad news for the Packers: The team they are playing Saturday night has even better discipline.

The Atlanta Falcons committed only 58 penalties this season — tops in the N.F.L. by a significant margin; second-best Miami had 72.

FOX MEETS WITH ELWAY John Fox finally arrived in Denver to meet with the about their head coaching vacancy after his flight out of North Carolina was delayed three times this week by winter weather. Fox met with , who is leading the team’s second head coaching search in two seasons. Fox’s contract was not renewed by the after a 2-14 season. FAVRE’S SISTER ARRESTED The police say the 34-year-old sister of quarterback faces drug charges after she was arrested in a raid on a Mississippi condo where people were making crystal methamphetamine. Maj. Matt Karl of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that Brandi Favre was among five people arrested in Diamondhead.

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