Cutler returns as Bears stun Vikings

Updated: 

The Chicago Bears and their defence shined as they stunned the Minnesota Vikings 20-10 in the NFL on Monday.

The Bears harassed the Vikings' makeshift offensive line and quarterback Sam Bradford all night, sacking him five times, with nine additional quarterback hits, and multiple batted passes.

Bradford struggled with the pressure, going 23 of 37 for 228 yards and a late touchdown to Stefon Diggs. 

It did not help that the Vikings were not able to muster anything on the ground. Minnesota had just 57 rushing yards, led by Matt Asiata's 42 yards on 14 carries.

The Vikings (5-2) were the last NFL team to lose this season, but have now lost two straight and six consecutive Monday night road games. 

The Bears (2-6) were without two of their best linemen in Pro Bowl guards Kyle Long (triceps) and Josh Sitton (ankle). But Ted Larsen and Eric Kush held their own against Minnesota's top-ranked defence, which had 19 sacks in six games. The Vikings did not get to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler at all in the first half and had just one sack in the game. 

Cutler, playing in his first game since injuring his right thumb in week two, was inconsistent, but avoided the big mistakes that have plagued him for much of his career. He was 20 of 31 for 252 yards and a touchdown.

Cutler's two best throws of the night were an improvisational shovel pass to rookie running back Jordan Howard that gained 34 yards and an 11-yard dart to Alshon Jeffery for a third-quarter touchdown to give the Bears a 20-3 lead in the third quarter. 

A 69-yard run by Howard set up the game's first score. Howard ran through a crease off the left side and then darted past Vikings safety Jayron Kearse to the Minnesota 13-yard line. Bears kicker Connor Barth booted a 30-yard field goal four plays later. 

 

IMPROV SHOW

Howard's 34-yard run after catching Cutler's shovel pass set up a field goal to give the Bears an early 6-0 lead.

 

RAMBLING ROOKIE

Howard made everything go for the Bears. The fifth-round pick from Indiana ran for 153 yards and a touchdown and had four receptions for 49 yards. The 202 yards from scrimmage were the most yards gained by a single player against a Vikings defense that had allowed 279.5 yards per game and 81.7 yards on the ground.

 

CUTLER INSPIRES

"The few games we lost in the past, we were right there. We just had to execute," Jeffery told ESPN following the game. "The defense played well and the offense took care of the ball. Jay gave the pregame speech and was talking about giving a relentless effort."

 

VIKINGS FALTERING

Injuries are finally starting to catch up to the Vikings. Minnesota lost starting running back Adrian Peterson and left tackle Matt Kalil in week two. That was Bradford's first start after being acquired in the wake of Teddy Bridgewater's season-ending knee injury in August.

Right tackle Andre Smith was lost to a triceps injury in week four. Minnesota signed former number one pick Jake Long off the street, but he has not worked out. T.J. Clemmings, who is best-suited as a guard, has not fared well at right tackle and was abused all night by Akiem Hicks and Pernell McPhee.

With the NFL's trade deadline on Tuesday, the Vikings almost have to make a move to stop the bleeding up front. If the Vikings cannot do something to fix their offensive line, that 5-0 start could quickly become a distant memory.