Sunday, November 25, 2012
Wrap-up: Bears 28, Vikings 10
By Kevin Seifert
A few thoughts on Sunday's events at Soldier Field:
What it means: The Chicago Bears snapped a two-game losing streak with a convincing victory over their NFC North rivals. They're 8-3 and could finish the weekend alone atop the NFC North, pending Sunday night's result at MetLife Stadium, but they will also have to deal with five starters who suffered new injuries Sunday. The Vikings are 6-5 but will have a rematch with the Bears in two weeks.
Bears injury report: This game had such a long list that we'll divide it into separate bullet points. The Bears lost tailback Matt Forte, receiver Devin Hester and both starting guards in this game. Also, cornerback Charles Tillman didn't play much after injuring his ankle. Forte injured his ankle in the third quarter, walked gingerly to the locker room and did not return. Left guard Chris Spencer suffered a knee injury in the second quarter and was replaced by Edwin Williams. Right guard Lance Louis suffered a knee injury on a big hit from Vikings defensive end Jared Allen during a third-quarter interception. The Bears had only one healthy lineman remaining, so deposed right tackle Gabe Carimi had to finish the game at right guard. Meanwhile, the Bears played with three receivers for most of the game after Hester suffered a concussion in the first quarter.
Vikings injury report: Safety Harrison Smith did not return after being tested for a concussion in the third quarter. The same goes for tight end Kyle Rudolph, who was drilled by Bears linebacker Lance Briggs -- cleanly -- on a drag route on the previous series.
Protecting Cutler: Even with a mish-mash offensive line, the Bears for the most part kept quarterback Jay Cutler clean upon his return from a concussion. He was sacked once, when he tripped over center Robert Garza's foot, but otherwise had time to complete 23 of 31 passes. In the fourth quarter, in fact, television cameras even caught Cutler tying a shoelace for left tackle J'Marcus Webb. What a country!
Not supporting Ponder: Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder didn't have his best game and finished with only 22 completions in 43 attempts. He airmailed a pass to receiver Devin Aromashodu that was intercepted and should have put more arc on an end-zone jump ball to Rudolph. But Ponder got little or no help from a receiving corps that was once again without Percy Harvin. Jerome Simpson missed on three catchable passes; Stephen Burton and John Carlson also dropped key passes. Tailback Adrian Peterson rushed for 108 yards, but much of it came in the second half when the Bears were aligned to defend a 22-point halftime lead, and he also fumbled twice.
Getting it right: The play that Forte got hurt on was initially ruled a touchdown after Vikings safety Mistral Raymond grabbed the ball and ran 52 yards to the end zone. Referee Scott Green took some time, but ultimately got the call right on review: Forte's knees were down before he was pulled backward and lost control of the ball.
Questionable decision: The Vikings didn't get many scoring opportunities, and it's fair to question how they handled one of them early in the fourth quarter. Facing third-and-2 at the Bears' 8-yard line, the Vikings threw two consecutive passes rather than hand the ball to Peterson, who had already put up 38 yards on the drive. Trailing 28-10 at the time, the Vikings missed an opportunity to make it a two-score game.
What's next: The Vikings will continue their adventure through the NFC North, playing at the Green Bay Packers next Sunday. The Bears will host the Seattle Seahawks, also next Sunday.