Chicago’s almost 50-50 run-pass balance during its four-game winning streak isn’t balanced at all. My favorite play during Chicago’s win streak is Matt Forte’s 2-yard, third-down touchdown run against Miami.

Chicago’s almost 50-50 run-pass balance during its four-game winning streak isn’t balanced at all. My favorite play during Chicago’s win streak is Matt Forte’s 2-yard, third-down touchdown run against Miami.

A 2-yard Bears run on third down is rarer than 60-yard Forte runs or 40-yard Jay Cutler passes. The Bears passed on 12 consecutive third downs in their win over the Bills until failing on a third-and-1 run in the final 1:15. They passed on 17 third downs in a row in beating the Vikings. And all nine of their third downs before taking a knee in the final seconds Sunday against the Eagles.

The only exception to all-pass, all-the-time on third down was the Miami game. Chester Taylor, on third-and-1, and Forte had Chicago’s only two conversions by a running back in the last month. Chicago ran on four of 18 third downs against Miami. One was taking a knee.

Footballoutsiders.com reports that NFL teams pass 60 percent of the time on third-and-2 or less and 68 percent of the time on fourth-and-2 or less — even though they succeed 20 percent more often when they run on third down and twice as often on fourth down. If the Bears want to run, they need to play the percentages and do it on third down.

Bradford a Big 12 exception

Rookie No. 1 overall draft pick Sam Bradford has the Rams, 6-42 the previous three years, in first place in the NFC West. So much for Quick Shots writing the Rams should have taken Ndamukong Suh. They both have been great, but a quarterback can have a bigger impact than a defensive tackle.

Bradford, with an 82.0 passer rating, is having one of the best years of any rookie quarterback ever and looks like the best NFL quarterback in the history of the Big 12. In the league’s 16-year history, only Bradford, Vince Young and Kordell Stewart have been regular NFL starters, and the other two have career passer ratings below 76. None of the 20 Hall of Fame QBs who started their NFL careers in the last 60 years came from a current Big 12 school.

Steelers 3rd-down pass-happy

Another example of how running is overrated is Pittsburgh needing overtime to edge 2-9 Buffalo. The Steelers ran for 206 yards and completed 20 of 33 passes for 220 yards with zero interceptions. But after running for two third-down conversions on a game-opening touchdown drive, Pittsburgh passed on 14 of its next 15 third downs. It doesn’t matter how often you run or how many yards you run for; what matters is being able to run when you most need to run, and opening things up for the pass by making teams defend the run in those situations.

Bears star in red zone

Coldhardfootballfacts.com has a bendability index that measures how many points defenses give up per yard gained. The Packers, Bears and Steelers rank 1-2-3. Chicago was 28th last year. Sunday, Chicago held the Eagles to four field goals and a turnover on five of its six trips in the red zone, while Chicago had four TDs and a field goal on five trips.

“When we can convert for touchdowns instead of settling for field goals and our defense can make them settle for field goals, we’re going to come out pretty good,” tight end Greg Olsen said.

Matt Trowbridge’s NFL Quick Shots appear Tuesdays. He can be reached at 815-987-1383 or mtrowbridge@rrstar.com.