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Cardiac Cutler Leads Bears to 31-30 Victory

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Sep 16, 2013 3:30PM

For the second time in this young season, the Bears found themselves down in the fourth quarter to a 2012 playoff team yet left the field with a win. Jay Cutler appeared at times to be having as many technical issues as Fox did with their TV broadcast but he stepped up when it mattered and found tight end Martellus Bennett on a 16-yard touchdown with just seconds left to play, handing the Bears a 31-30 win over divisional foe Minnesota on a rainy afternoon at Soldier Field.

In a game full of momentum shifts, the Vikings jumped out to an early lead when Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 105 yards. Devin Hester countered with a 76-yard return of his own, which set up the Bears first touchdown when Cutler hit Bennett from a yard out to tie the game at 7-7 early in the first quarter. Late in the quarter, the Bears used a 38-yard run by Alshon Jeffrey to set up a 34-yard strike from Cutler to Brandon Marshall and a 14-7 lead.

In the second quarter, the Vikings tied the game after Cutler was sacked, fumbled the ball and Vikings defensive end Brian Robison returned it 61 yards for a touchdown. On the Bears' ensuing possession Minnesota intercepted Cutler in the end zone. But the Bears countered with a defensive TD of their own as Tim Jennings picked off Christian Ponder and ran it back 44 yards. Minnesota scored a game-tying TD late in the second quarter but left enough time on the clock for the Bears to set up a Robbie Gould field goal and take a 24-21 lead into halftime.

Minnesota scored first in the second half, tying the game yet again with a Blair Walsh 28-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, Walsh added two more field goals of 28-yards and 22-yards to take a 30-24 lead. The first was set up by a Cutler interception, while the second came after a Matt Forte fumble and left the Bears down by six with just over three minutes to play. That set the stage for Cutler's heroics and he marched the Bears down the field, finding five different receivers before connecting with Bennett, who dove for the left pylon to score the game winner with ten ticks left on the game clock. Gould's extra point gave the Bears the 31-30 victory.

Cutler completed 28 of 39 passes on the afternoon for 290 yards and three touchdowns. He was picked off twice and sacked once, which led to a fumble. Marshall and Bennett were his favorite targets with seven catches apiece. Marshall led the Bears with 113 receiving yards and a touchdown, while Bennett picked up 76 yards and two TDs. Matt Forte had a better game in Week two, rushing for 90 yards on 19 carries and catching 11 passes for 71 yards. Devin Hester set a team record with 249 kickoff return yards on five returns. While he failed to score a return TD, he had runs of 76 and 80 yards.

Defensively, the Bears held reigning league MVP Adrian Peterson to 100 yards rushing on 26 carries. While they added three more takeaways, Sunday's game was one of the rare instances where the Bears lost the takeaway battle.

With a 2-0 record, the Bears now sit alone atop the NFC North. Green Bay and Detroit are now 1-1, while the Vikings remain winless. The Bears next head to Pittsburgh for a Sunday night prime time game against the Steelers.