Bears Fall to Vikings 21-14
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Dec 10, 2012 5:00PM
The Bears' season is beginning to look a bit too much like last year, when a fast start had fans' hopes high, only to have the team collapse down the stretch. On Sunday, the Bears traveled to Minnesota to play the Vikings and lost 21-14 to a team they beat handily two weeks ago.
The the Vikings scored two quick first quarter touchdowns, gained the early momentum and the Bears never recovered. Adrian Peterson gained 69 of the Vikes' 80 yards on an opening drive that resulted in a touchdown. Peterson broke free for 51 yards on his first touch of the afternoon, and scored from a yard out to give the Vikes an early 7-0 lead. On the Bears' first possession, Jay Cutler threw an interception at midfield that the Vikings' Josh Robinson returned to the five-yard line and set up another Peterson TD. In the second quarter, the Bears finally scored when Jay Cutler connected with Alshon Jeffery from 23 yards out to cut the deficit to 14-7, which is where things stood at halftime.
Cutler's second interception of the afternoon, which was returned by Harrison Smith for six, gave the Vikings a 21-7 lead. In the game's waning minutes, backup QB Jason Campbell, who replaced Cutler (who was pulled with a neck injury) hit Brandon Marshall for a TD to cut the deficit to a single possession, but it was too little, too late after the onside kick attempt failed.
The Bears somehow racked up 438 yards of offense, which is surprising considering how one dimensional the offense was. Brandon Marshall caught 10 passes for 160 yards, while Cutler overall completed just 22 passes out of 44 thrown, for 260 yards. Alshon Jeffery caught three passes for 57 yards in his return after a knee injury. Cutler injured his neck (at least it wasn't another concussion!). But both Jeffery and Devin Hester dropped balls that were likely scores, while other drops at critical times stalled Bears' drives. Matt Forte showed flashes, gaining 85 yards on 13 carries. So why didn't Mike Tice call more running plays? Also hurting the offense was the pre-game injury suffered by kicker Robbie Gould. While he kicked extra points and was available for shorter field goals, the team was forced to punt on a couple occasions where a healthy Gould would have attempted a 50-yard kick.
The defense was without starters Brian Urlacher, Tim Jennings and Stephen Paea, while Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman were banged up. The injuries showed, as the defense hasn't made the big plays they were known for early on this year and haven't been as able to shut down long drives by their opponents. Minnesota only needed the opening drive, along with some defensive scoring help, to put away the Bears. Adrian Peterson continued his amazing streak of games, running for 154 yards against the Bears.
The Bears of the second half of the season are very different from the team we saw in the first eight games. Through the first half of the season, the Bears beat up on inferior opponents with a healthy squad on the way to an 7-1 start. Since then, injuries and a tougher schedule have ravaged the Bears, who are 1-4. With an 8-5 record, they remain in the playoff hunt, but are now a game behind Green Bay in the NFC North. The Packers can wrap up the division if they win at Soldier Field next weekend and, even if the Bears were to find a way to win their final three games, they're unlikely to catch the Packers.
With the injuries piling up—we can add Cutler and Gould to the growing list—the Bears look like they're repeating their December fade of a year ago. Even if this team makes the playoffs, they're not real contenders. The only thing on the line is Lovie Smith's job. We think he's been saved too many times and with names like Bill Cowher still available, we'd like to see Bears management change things up this off-season.