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NFL: Bears's swagger restored in rout of Vikings

Chicago tight end Matt Spaeth (89) makes a touchdown catch along the boundary against Minnesota safety Jamarca Sanford during the Bears' 28-10 victory Sunday in Chicago.
Chicago tight end Matt Spaeth (89) makes a touchdown catch along the boundary against Minnesota safety Jamarca Sanford during the Bears' 28-10 victory Sunday in Chicago.

CHICAGO – The Chicago Bears regained their swagger and halted their two-game losing streak by thumping the Minnesota Vikings 28-10 in a critical NFC North matchup Sunday at Soldier Field.

With Jay Cutler returning to the lineup after sitting out Monday night’s loss at San Francisco because of a concussion, the Bears’ offense displayed some long-sought consistency as the quarterback and Brandon Marshall connected repeatedly on key plays.

Marshall wound up with 12 catches for 92 yards. Cutler completed 23 of 31 passes for 188 yards and one touchdown and a passer rating of 86.5. Michael Bush rushed for 60 yards on 21 carries and scored two touchdowns.

“A big win for us, a division game at home, you gotta win those,” coach Lovie Smith said. “Our commitment to the run really helped us today. I thought Jay Cutler was outstanding. Every team doesn’t have a guy like we have.”

The Bears improved to 8-3 and, with the Packers’ . The Vikings (6-5), who got 108 rushing yards from Adrian Peterson, fell to 6-5.

“It goes back to the offensive line – it starts and stops with those guys,” Cutler said. “If we can run the ball and give myself a little bit of time, we’re usually going to be pretty successful.”

Robbie Gould’s 46-yard field goal with 3:57 left in the third period capped the scoring. During the drive, Matt Forte was taken to the locker room with a right ankle injury and did not return.

Forte (14 carries for 42 yards) was injured on a bizarre play. He was tackled by several Vikings and the ball came out late. The fumble appeared to be recovered and returned 51 yards for a touchdown. After a review, the TD was denied and the Bears took over.

The Vikings had pulled to with 25-10 after a 40-yard drive. Quarterback Christian Ponder passed 2 yards to tight end Kyle Rudolph for a touchdown with 10:44 left in the third period. The score was set up by an interception by Antoine Winfield after a Cutler pass caromed off the hands of Marshall.

The Bears were energized early, taking a 25-3 halftime lead on a 13-yard Cutler TD pass to tight end Matt Spaeth. The score came after  Chris Conte intercepted a Ponder pass and returned it 35 yards to the Vikings’ 13 with 1:55 left until halftime, and that was the score at intermission after Gould’s 39-yard field goal attempt was blocked on the final play.

Cutler completed 15 of 17 first-half passes for 170 yards and one touchdown.

The Bears had 169 yards of total offense, compared to the Vikings’ 92. Peterson was limited to 25 yards on seven carries in the first half.

Earlier, a 1-yard touchdown run by Bush, his second of the day, had extended the Bears’ lead to 16-3. On the extra point, holder Adam Podlesh took the snap from center and ran in for the two-point conversion for an 18-3 advantage with 4:01 left until halftime.

The Bears had gone up 10-3 on a 47-yard field goal by Gould with 32 seconds left in the first quarter. The drive covered 25 yards in 10 plays and featured a taunting penalty against a feisty Cutler for flipping the ball at the Vikings’ A.J. Jefferson.

The Vikings’ Walsh had a 30-yard field goal attempt blocked by Julius Peppers with 12 minutes left until halftime.

The Bears’ defense got back to its turnover-producing ways early when Peterson fumbled and Tillman recovered at the Vikings’ 34. Nick Roach forced the fumble. The Bears converted the opportunity into a 1-yard touchdown by Bush with 7:17 left in the first quarter to take a 7-3 lead.

Injury notes: Devin Hester was ruled out for the game in the second quarter after suffering a concussion. Guard Chris Spencer left with a knee injury and guard Lance Louis had to be helped off the field with a knee injury after taking a vicious hit from the Vikings’ Jared Allen and will undergo an MRI on Monday. Cornerback Charles Tillman left early with an ankle injury. Smith said he didn’t know the extent of any of the injuries.

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