Rapid Reaction: Vikings 21, Bears 14
December, 9, 2012
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on Sunday's events at the Metrodome:
What it means: The Chicago Bears continued their late-season slide, losing for the fourth time in five games. They're now 8-5 after a 7-1 start and staring at a fight for a wild-card playoff spot. The Vikings, meanwhile, beat the Bears for the first time in seven attempts and improved to 7-6. The win ensured them of playing at least one more meaningful game in December.
CutlerWatch: With most of the attention on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, it was Bears quarterback Jay Cutler who threw two key interceptions and finished the game on the bench. One of the interceptions was a clear overthrow and was returned 56 yards by Vikings safety Harrison Smith for a touchdown in the third quarter. The other occurred when receiver Alshon Jeffery slipped in his cut in the first quarter. Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson returned the interception 44 yards to the Bears' 5-yard line to set up Peterson's second touchdown. So in many ways, those two plays were the difference in this game. Receiver Devin Hester dropped what could have been a fourth-quarter touchdown, but the Bears removed Cutler from the game after taking over possession with three minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the game. Cutler had absorbed a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit from Vikings defensive lineman Everson Griffen on the previous possession, and overall he was hit or sacked six times and had eight passes knocked away. We can only assume the Bears were putting Cutler out of misery. They made no injury announcement, and he remained on the sideline for the rest of the game. If he had concussion symptoms, Cutler would have been taken to the locker room.
PetersonWatch: Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson ran 51 yards on the game's first play, had 104 yards in the first quarter and finished with 154 yards on a career-high 31 carries. Peterson hadn't carried as many as 30 times in a game since 2008, but he now has an even 1,600 yards on the season. His early success took the pressure off Ponder, who needed to throw only 17 times. He completed 11 for 91 yards, his third sub-100 yard game of the season.
MarshallWatch: Receiver Brandon Marshall set a Bears record for receptions in a season. He hauled in 10 for 160 yards in the game and now has 101 in 13 games. Marshall is one of four players in NFL history to achieve the 100-catch milestone four times in their careers. Wes Welker of the New England Patriots is in range of doing it for the fifth time.
Injury report: Bears place-kicker Robbie Gould suffered a left calf injury during pregame, but the injury didn't play much role in the outcome of the game. Gould converted the Bears' extra point, punter Adam Podlesh handled kickoffs and there was only one instance when the Bears passed up a potential field goal: a 53-yarder in the first quarter.
What's next: The Bears will fight for NFC North title hopes next Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. The Vikings will play at the St. Louis Rams.