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Despite bad ankle, Bears’ Forte has productive day

(MCT) — DETROIT — On a bad right ankle Matt Forte got his biggest workload of the season Sunday, carrying 24 times for 103 yards as the Bears tapped into a running game that sometimes has been missing.

It was the third 100-yard game this season for Forte, who finished with 1,094 yards, his third 1,000-yard season. He scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter as the Bears opened a 20-10 halftime lead, and he helped seal the game with a powerful 13-yard run with 2:38 remaining as he dragged defensive end Cliff Avril to pick up a first down and allow the Bears to run out the clock.

Forte left last week’s victory at Arizona with a sprained ankle, the third time he has injured the same ankle this season. He went through a process he’s familiar with to aid recovery, including acupuncture-like treatment with needles in his Achilles tendon and ankle.

This was just the sixth game Forte reached 20 carries. He missed one game because of the initial ankle injury in Week 2 and had three games that he left early. But what is interesting is he had only eight 20-carry games in 2010 and 2011 combined, a big departure from the Ron Turner era when the offense pounded Forte, giving him 18- to 20-carry games in 2008 and 2009.

Like any good running back, he invites an increased workload and proved capable of playing through injuries. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry for the season, not quite the lofty 4.9 figure he had a year ago.

No handshakes: Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton didn’t shake hands with the Lions’ Dominic Raiola and also didn’t come bearing gifts for the center’s 34th birthday.

“Just a few bull rushes,” Melton said.

Melton instigated a war of words during the week and said the two said little to each other during the game.

“We started off a little hot on them,” Melton said. “There wasn’t much said. Can’t really say much when you’re losing. It was just fun. If you’re gonna say something, you gotta back it up. I think we did that today.”

Firing line: While there has been ample speculation about the future of Bears coach Lovie Smith in what was a 10-win season, Lions coach Jim Schwartz was asked about his own future after the Lions finished 4-12 by losing their final eight and going 0-6 in the NFC North.

Schwartz, who signed a contract extension through 2015 before the season, was cryptic in his reply.

“I’m only concerned with getting this team back,” he said.

The Lions are 14-52 in the NFC North since the division was formed in 2002.

Extra points: Tight end Matt Spaeth left the game in the third quarter with a concussion. ... The defense finished with 41 sacks, tying for the most under Smith. ... The Bears’ schedule for the 2013 regular season has been determined. Along with the traditional home/away games against NFC North foes, the Bears will have games at Soldier Field versus the Cowboys, Giants, Ravens, Bengals and Saints. They will have road games at the Eagles, Redskins, Browns, Steelers and Rams. ... The Bears are expected to have the 20th overall pick in the NFL draft. They have the best record of all non-playoff teams.

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