(670 The Score) What has been the mindset for running back David Montgomery as he has become a more prominent part of the Bears' offense?
"Make it count," Montgomery said.
He sure did Sunday. Montgomery rushed 32 times for a career-high 146 yards and two touchdowns in the Bears' 33-27 win against the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.
With the Bears (7-7) finally counting on Montgomery to carry a significant workload, he's stepping up behind an improved offensive line that's suddenly playing at a high level. It had led them to success offensively in recent weeks, with Montgomery proving he's capable of helping carry the Bears to victory.
"David is a special running back," quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said. "He runs with such great passion and will when he gets the ball in his hands."
On Sunday, Montgomery out-ran the NFL's second-leading rusher in Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who carried 24 times for 132 yards. Montgomery is now 94 yards short of a 1,000-yard season after breaking the 100-yard mark for the third time in the last four games.
The common denominator in those four games has been a new-look Bears offensive line that has Cody Whitehair moved from center to left guard, Sam Mustipher starting at center and Alex Bars working at right guard. And in the third quarter Sunday, all five offensive linemen played a role in Montgomery's 14-yard touchdown run, which featured him pushing through defenders and into the end zone.
"He runs so hard," coach Matt Nagy said. "He’s really, really, hard to bring down with one guy. He runs with just extreme passion. The guys love that. We’re feeding off him."
In the Bears' loss to the Titans on Nov. 8, Montgomery rushed 14 times for 30 yards before leaving the game with a concussion in the final minutes. At the time, it marked the third time in the past six games that he rushed for 30 yards or fewer, as he logged 27 and 29 yards during a pair of games in early October.
The second-year pro Montgomery's inconsistent production early in his career has come in large part due to poor blocking and the Bears' lack of desire to stay committed to the running game. That has changed since the game in Tennessee.
The Bears are now leaning on Montgomery, and he's making it count.
"I just needed to go out there and show those guys I love them," Montgomery said. "They get everything out of me."
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.