Bears

Teddy Bridgewater scores five touchdowns as Vikings fly by Bears

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Teddy Bridgewater scores five touchdowns as Vikings fly by Bears

By David La Vaque

MINNEAPOLIS – The Bears' playoff chances, listing before Sunday, slipped below the surface for good after a 38-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Improved effort has been noticed despite a 5-9 record. But a lack of execution could not be overcome. The willing but unable Bears were swept by Minnesota (9-5) in divisional play for the first time since 2007.

“No, I wouldn’t say that at all,” Bears’ linebacker Shea McClellin said when questioned whether the team let down. “I don’t know where everyone’s head is, but I don’t think giving up was ever felt.”

The teams’ passing offenses were stark contrasts. Jay Cutler endured five sacks, completed 26 of 37 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns and an interception.

Cutler’s counterpart, Teddy Bridgewater, tallied 231 yards on 17-for-20 passing, a career-high four touchdown passes and a rushing score.

Getting the Bears out of rhythm, Cutler said, were problems with penalties and protection. On the five sacks, Cutler said, “It’s not all on [the offensive line]. I’ve got to get rid of the ball.

“It doesn’t matter who we played today,” Cutler said. “We weren’t going to win with our offensive football.”

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Cutler capped the Bears’ first touchdown drive with a 10-yard scoring pass to Alshon Jeffery. An injury to cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who rendered Jeffery ineffective much of the first half, provided an opportunity.

Two plays after Rhodes limped off the field, Cutler zipped career touchdown pass No. 200 into Jeffery’s hands.

The play cut Minnesota’s lead to 10-7 with 5:40 to play in the second quarter. Jeffery left the game with a tight hamstring in the third quarter but did return.

Injury seemed to favor the Bears again on the Vikings’ next drive. Running back Adrian Peterson, who entered the game as the NFL’s leading rusher this season, went off with an ankle injury.

But the Bears’ defense surrendered receptions of 34 and 17 yards, the latter good for Jerick McKinnon’s first NFL touchdown.

The Bears trailed 17-7 at halftime. They were outgained by the Vikings 207-96.

“We just need to finish,” Bears’ linebacker John Timu said. “Finish tackles, finish rushes, bat the ball down and get after the other team. We are capable of doing it all; we just need to go out there and finish it now.”

A strip sack of Cutler gave Minnesota the ball at its 45-yard line early in the third quarter. The drive ended with a touchdown pass from Bridgewater to Stefon Diggs for a 24-7 lead. Diggs most recent scoring reception came Nov. 1 at Chicago.

[VIEW FROM THE MOON: Bears stumble to new lows in loss to Vikings]

Cutler and Bridgewater capped their contrasting afternoons with telling fourth-quarter plays. Cutler threw a short interception to defensive lineman Justin Trattou and Bridgewater ended the ensuing Vikings’ drive with a 12-yard touchdown run.

Each added a fourth-quarter touchdown pass, with Cutler finding Matt Forte for a score and Bridgewater throwing a touchdown pass to Zach Line in the game's final minutes.

“It does a little bit to thwart your confidence,” Bears’ coach John Fox said. “But again, we are all professionals. We will get this out of our system and get ready for Tampa Bay."

NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

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USA TODAY

NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

The great Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Talladega Nights hit a little too close to home for the Bears in Week 7.

They came into Sunday at 3-2 at the top of the NFC North. After a 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots, they dropped to the bottom of the division.

The Detroit Lions defeated the Miami Dolphins 32-21 to improve to 3-3, leaving them tied with the Bears in the cellar.

The Minnesota Vikings’ 37-17 victory over the New York Jets jumped them to 4-2-1 overall and first place in the division over the 3-2-1 Green Bay Packers, who were off for their bye week.

The NFC North remains the most tightly contested division in the NFL, the only one with no teams under .500 through seven weeks of the season.

The final standings may not be decided until Week 17, and the Bears have already blown the early season cushion they built for themselves while the Vikings and Packers were struggling.

The divisional action will pick up in November, and Chicago only has a pair of games left to put it all together before back-to-back-to-back games against the Lions, Vikings and Lions again.    

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

Matt Forte, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Laurence Holmes to break down the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots. What happened to the Bears defense over their bye week, and how did the special teams struggle so bad against New England? Plus – the guys debate Mitchell Trubisky’s decision making in the red zone and Matt weighs in on how the Bears should play his former team – the New York Jets – next week.

0:35– Special teams to blame for loss?

4:12– Where did the Bears pass rush go? 

5:27– Bad tackling followed Bears from Miami

7:25– Are the coaches to blame for the defense after the bye?

10:10– Evaluating Mitchell Trubisky’s game

11:55– Agree with Matt Nagy on Mitch’s “mental” game?

13:30– Trubisky’s red zone decision making

17:10– Are the Bears giving away games so Mitch can learn?

18:00– Bears need to run the ball more

21:04– Matt Forte scouts his former team, the New York Jets

Listen to the full podcast here or in the embedded player below.

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