Teddy Bridgewater scores five touchdowns as Vikings fly by Bears


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.”

[SHOP BEARS: Get your Bears gear right here]

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."

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Positive press about the Chicago Bears' offseason is having a strong impact on the jersey sales for the team's highest-profile player, Mitch Trubisky.

According to Dick's Sporting Goods, Trubisky's No. 10 is the fifth-most popular jersey among offensive players over the last 30 days. He's No. 6 among all players, regardless of position.

The Bears' offseason has been full of superlatives since their aggressive approach to free agency. The signings of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel put the spotlight on Trubisky and the potentially surging passing game. The second-round selection of Anthony Miller and word of Kevin White's offseason emergence has turned positive momentum into higher-than-anticipated expectations for Trubisky this season.

For Chicago to have any chance at meeting those expectations, Trubisky, who's entering his first full season as a starter with a new head coach and offensive system, has to thrive. Fans must be confident that he will, considering the investment they're making in his jersey.

Trubisky ended his rookie season with four wins in 12 starts, throwing for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 59.4 percent of his passes. He should have a much more productive season in 2018 with his new arsenal of skill players and an innovative coaching staff, led by coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.

These four Bears will be featured on 'Meet the Rookies' series

These four Bears will be featured on 'Meet the Rookies' series

The Chicago Bears will kick off the fourth season of "Meet the Rookies" on June 25, a series that profiles four of the team's 2018 draft picks for a behind-the-scenes look at their journey to the NFL.

The four-episode series will air on at 7:00 p.m from June 25 - 28 and will feature one rookie per night. 

Monday's episode will cover the Bears' first-round pick, Roquan Smith. Selected with the eighth-overall pick, Smith is expected to become an instant-impact player on defense. He's expected to make an impact off the field, too, as a high-character leader. Smith's linebacker-mate Joel Iyiegbuniwe is the focus of Tuesday's episode, with Anthony Miller (Wednesday) and James Daniels (Thursday) rounding out Season 4.

For a deeper dive into what's in store in "Meet the Rookies," check out this description.