Undefeated Bears squeak by winless Vikings

Bears score winning TD with 10 seconds remaining
Undefeated Bears squeak by winless Vikings

Jay Cutler’s third touchdown pass of the game, a 16-yarder to tight end Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds remaining in the game, gave the Chicago Bears a 31-30 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

The Bears overcame four turnovers, including two interceptions and a lost fumble by Cutler, by driving 66 yards, overcoming a holding penalty and converting three third-down plays on the winning drive.

First, Brandon Marshall made a leaping catch for 12 yards on third-and-4 at the Chicago 40. Then Marshall caught a 10-yard pass from Cutler on third-and-1 at the Minnesota 39. After the holding call made it first-and-20, Cutler found Bennett for 23 yards. Following a pair of incomplete passes, including a spike to stop the clock, Cutler again found Bennett for the winning score on thirdd-and-10.

Chicago’s drive ended a wild game that began when Minnesota rookie Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown.

But Chicago quickly matched the TD after Devin Hester returned the ensuing kickoff 76 yards to the Vikings’ 32-yard line.

From there, it took the Bears only five plays to score, with Matt Forte’s 24-yard run putting them in position for a one-yard touchdown pass from Cutler to Bennett.

Later in the first quarter, the Bears covered 86 yards in just three plays: a 14-yard pass from Cutler to Bennett, a 38-yard reverse run by wideout Alshon Jeffery and then a 34-yard touchdown pass from Cutler to Marshall for a 14-7 lead.

The Vikings tied it midway through the second quarter when Jared Allen sacked Cutler, forcing a fumble, and Brian Robison, the other defense end, scooped it up and ran 61 yards for a touchdown.

Cutler threw an interception on first-and-goal from the Minnesota 1-yard line, but four plays later, Tim Jennings intercepted a sideline throw by Christian Ponder and ran 44 yards for a touchdown for 21-14, Chicago.

A 36-yard run by Adrian Peterson led to a 20-yard TD pass from Ponder to tight end Kyle Rudolph and a tie at 21-21.

In the last minute of the half, however, the Bears drove 78 yards to enable a 20-yard field goal by Robbie Gould and 24-21 lead.

Minnesota converted a pair of third downs, including a 37-yard pass from Ponder to Jerome Simpson on third-and-7, setting up another tie in the third quarter, with Blair Walsh’s 28-yard field goal making it 24-24.

Walsh kicked two more field goals in the fourth quarter, both following Bears’ turnovers, to give Vikings a six-point lead and set the stage for the winning drive.

Cutler completed 28 of 39 passes for 290 yards.

Notes: The Bears honored their 1963 NFL championship team at halftime . . . Bennett collided with a cameraman behind the end zone and had to leave the game briefly, but returned . . . Hester’s first-half kickoff returns of 80 and 76 yards and a fourth-quarter return of 42 yards were his three longest returns in nearly two years – since he took a kickoff back 98 yards for a touchdown against the Vikings on Oct. 16, 2011. He broke his own franchise record with 249 yards on kickoff returns in a single game . . . Minnesota did not surpass 100 yards on offense until a 36-yard run by Peterson with less than two minutes remaining in the first half . . . Patterson’s 105-yard kickoff return was a Soldier Field record.