Some very good, then…some disaster. A situation where a serviceable performance was undercut by a major mistake at a pivotal moment in a game that could be decided by one play.
Matt Forte was workmanlike through the first half with 35 yards on eight carries, then was starting to assert himself in the second before taking a hit to his right knee from Vikings safety Harrison Smith that knocked Forte out of the game. Forte finished with 41 yards on 10 carries and caught all four of the passes Jay Cutler threw him, for another 28 yards.
[MORE GRADES: Cutler makes solid plays, team fails to finish]
Jeremy Langford took over for Forte in the third quarter and delivered a spark, with a run of nine yards among his 25 yards on five third-quarter carries as the Bears took the game slowly away from the Vikings. Langford picked up an additional 21 yards on seven carries in a tough fourth quarter.
But with the score tied at 20 and the Bears facing third-and-5 from their 25 with 1:17 to play – a situation with the potential of a game-winning drive – Langford ran a left-to-right crossing pattern with yardage for the first down. Cutler scrambled to his right away from pressure and flipped a short pass to Langford, who juggled and dropped the ball in his haste to turn upfield.
“That’s on me,” Langford said. “I’ve got to do a better job catching the ball first before starting to run. Cutler did a great job of getting out of the pocket and getting the ball to me. That’s on me.”
[SHOP BEARS: Get your Bears gear right here]
The result was the Bears being forced to punt and the Vikings capitalizing on breakdowns on special teams and defense to push downfield for a winning field goal.
“I talked to him,” Cutler said. “He’s going to be a heck of a player for us. I told him that one play doesn’t win or lose a football game. I don’t care what game it is, and that one didn’t lose or win our game. I thought he did a really good job of stepping in for Matt.”
For the rookie running back, “[teammates] told me to keep my head up; there are lot of plays in a game. That one didn’t help us, but it didn’t make us lose.”
But not making a play at a tipping point of a game is the stuff losses are made of.
Moon's Grade: D+