(CBS) Of the many goats in the Bears’ 31-24 setback to the Panthers on Sunday afternoon, it’s hard to fault running back Matt Forte, the workhorse who had 17 carries for 61 yards and 12 catches for 105 yards and a score. Amidst Chicago’s underachieving 2-3 start, Forte’s play has gravitated between splendid and consistent, and he’s often been the team’s best player.

Nonetheless, it was Forte who coughed up a crucial fumble with 4:18 remaining in a tie game, setting up Carolina’s winning touchdowns on a short field. And it was Forte who took blame.

“You’ve just got to put two hands on it when you make contact,” Forte said. “Initially I hit him and when I started fighting for extra yards, I needed to put two hands on it.

“I was fighting for extra yards and I was sure I had two hands on it, I went to put two hands on it and it just came out.”

In Forte’s mind, the Bears’ poor play has little to do with their opponents. It has to do with themselves and a lack of execution.

“It is frustrating early on because it is not like we are getting beat, we are beating ourselves,” Forte said. “If we can get out of our own way, we can win some games.”

While Bears coach Marc Trestman didn’t go quite as far as Forte in his analysis, he too agreed much of the loss could be traced to his team not playing to its capability.

“You look to see the reasons why you didn’t finish it,” Trestman said. “Was it something they did? And most of the time with all the respect in the world to what they did defensively because they played very, very well, but we’ve got to do our job. We’ve got to make sure we take control of our job and are consistent in our fundamentals and our techniques and where we’re supposed to line up and so forth.”

Chicago plays at Atlanta (2-3) next Sunday.

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