The Bears convincingly snapped a two-game losing streak and took over first place in the NFC North by night’s end with a 28-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field. But several starters paid a hefty price.
Running back Matt Forte (ankle), receiver Devin Hester (concussion), cornerback Charles Tillman (ankle) and guard Lance Louis (knee) didn’t finish the game. Left guard Chris Spencer missed some snaps with a knee injury, returned, then left for the rest of the game. In addition, linebacker Lance Briggs left the locker room with his right foot in a walking boot.
“I normally don’t write down injuries on a sheet here, but there were so many I had to remember them all,” coach Lovie Smith said. “It’s always a concern when they don’t come back in the game.”
Smith didn’t shed any light on the severity of those players’ injuries.
The key for the Bears was regrouping after consecutive losses to playoff-caliber teams, especially on offense. The first two snaps couldn’t have been more disastrous — Forte fumbled and Jay Cutler was sacked because he tripped over center Roberto Garza’s foot.
After two drives, the Bears’ offense had netted a single yard.
But the defense allowed just a field goal and handed its offense a shortened field after forcing and recovering a fumble by Adrian Peterson at the Vikings’ 34-yard line.
After missing one game with a concussion, Cutler completed two passes for 26 yards before running back Michael Bush scored easily from a yard out to give the Bears a 7-3 lead.
The Bears scored 25 unanswered points until the Vikings stopped the momentum with a touchdown catch by Kyle Rudolph after Cutler was intercepted early in the third quarter.
“Against a team like Chicago, in Chicago, you have to play a pretty flawless game,” Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder said. “We turned the ball over three times.”
While Peterson lost a fumble, he still averaged six yards per run. The Vikings handed him the ball just 18 times.
And early in the fourth quarter, with the ball at the Bears’ 8, the Vikings lined up in the shotgun and attempted two passes, both of which were incomplete.
“You can second-guess them to death, but we thought we had some good plays called,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “It just didn’t work out.”
After catching two passes in San Francisco, Brandon Marshall rebounded with 12 catches for 92 yards, becoming the first Bears receiver to top 1,000 yards since Marty Booker in 2002. Cutler had a lot to do with that, completing 23 of 31 passes for 188 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Marshall pointed to Earl Bennett and Kellen Davis for getting the Bears going on the first scoring drive.
“I’m excited to see the offense rolling the way we did today,” Marshall said. “We had a lot of rhythm, and we still left a lot out there.”
Next Sunday, the Bears (8-3) will host the Seattle Seahawks (6-5), who were edged 24-21 in Miami. But the Seahawks’ third-ranked defense might lose two key players. There were reports Sunday night that starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner — who have combined for seven interceptions — face four-game suspensions for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.The Green Bay Packers’ 38-10 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night put the Bears alone in first place.