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Offense stumbles, Bears fall to Vikes

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Offense stumbles, Bears fall to Vikes

MINNEAPOLIS Adrian Peterson has his sights set squarely on 2,000 yards. Thanks to his latest jaw-dropping performance and an opportunistic defense, the Minnesota Vikings still have their eyes on the playoffs.
Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns and Harrison Smith returned an interception for a score to lead the Minnesota Vikings to a 21-14 victory over the free-falling Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Peterson topped 100 yards before the first quarter was over, helping the Vikings (7-6) overcome another lackluster day from quarterback Christian Ponder to get a victory that will keep their playoff hopes alive.
Jay Cutler was 22 for 44 for 260 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and couldn't finish the game for the Bears (8-5), who have lost four of their last five. He took a wicked hit to the head from Everson Griffen in the fourth quarter, remained in the game for the rest of that drive, but was replaced by Jason Campbell with 3 minutes to play.There was no immediate word on Cutler's health, and Campbell threw a 16-yard TD to Brandon Marshall with 1:48 to play, but Kyle Rudolph recovered the onside kick to seal the victory.
Marshall had 10 catches for 160 yards, but Chicago's struggling offense couldn't do enough to overcome the two turnovers and Peterson's relentless effort.
Peterson's remarkable comeback from a torn ACL late last season seems to get more impressive every week. Not even a year removed from that major injury in Washington, he broke the 100-yard mark for the seventh straight game. He has 1,600 yards with three games to play, putting a hallowed 2,000-yard season within reach. He ran for 51 yards on the opening play of the game and continued to gash the broken-down Bears the rest of the way.
No one was happier to see it than Ponder, who continued to look skittish in the pocket and out of whack with his mechanics. He finished 11 of 17 for 91 yards, including an ugly interception off his back foot late in the first half.
For once, his performance didn't doom the Vikings.
Vikings fans trudged through a snow storm to get to the Metrodome, and they were ornery and ready to give Ponder all the grief they could. They booed him in pregame introductions, then Peterson touched the ball on five of six plays in the opening drive. He also ripped off a 16-yard run and finished it with a 1-yard TD.
Josh Robinson intercepted Cutler on the next possession, returning the ball to the Chicago 5 to set up Peterson's second touchdown. The Vikings were off and running, exactly what they were hoping to do.
Cutler responded, hitting Alshon Jeffery with a 23-yard TD pass that got a healthy contingent of Chicago fans chanting "Let's Go Bears!'"
Just as the Bears appeared to seize momentum, Cutler floated a pass over Marshall's head right into the arms of Smith, who headed down the Chicago sideline for a 56-yard touchdown late in the third quarter and a 21-7 lead.
The Vikings haven't made big plays in the passing game ever since Percy Harvin was lost for the season with a severely sprained left ankle against Seattle on Nov. 4. They finally did it Sunday, but it was the defense that made it happen.
Robinson and Smith combined for 100 return yards, more than the Vikings' passing game had through the air.
Now the Bears must try to hold off another December malaise under coach Lovie Smith. They started 7-1, but Smith tried to ratchet up the intensity this week, saying the Bears had to win out to get into the playoffs.
Cornerback Tim Jennings was out with an injured shoulder and linebacker Brian Urlacher, the man in the middle of the proud veteran defense, could be out for the rest of the season with an injured hamstring. Defensive tackle Henry Melton hurt his shoulder in the first half and kicker Robbie Gould was limited by a strained left calf that he suffered in pregame warm-ups.
Through six games, the Bears gave up an average of 71 yards rushing. But they had given up 136 yards per game on the ground in the previous six games.

Ahead of schedule from knee surgery, Brandon Davidson not worried about where he fits back in

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USA TODAY

Ahead of schedule from knee surgery, Brandon Davidson not worried about where he fits back in

The Blackhawks got a pleasant surprise on Friday when Brandon Davidson joined the team for morning skate after having knee surgery on Nov. 27 to clean up his meniscus.

He was expected to be sidelined 6-8 weeks. But just two weeks into his recovery, the 27-year-old defenseman returned to the ice and has skated in three of the past four days. He's way ahead of schedule and even Davidson is a little surprised by it.

"Sooner than expected, for sure," he said. "When I was told 6-8 weeks, that seemed like forever. But here I am two and a half weeks and I'm on the ice. I'm almost at full workouts. Still having trouble with range of motion, but very happy with how things are going."

The injury happened on Nov. 12 when the Blackhawks were in Carolina. Davidson took a hit that caused his knee to "blow up," which was initially believed to take only a few days to heal. But after the swelling didn't get any better, the Blackhawks felt a minor operation was necessary.

"Fairly easy quick fix," Davidson said. "No real damage, but something that we had to get under control."

Davidson is still at least a couple away weeks from returning to game action, but once he is cleared, there's no guarantee he'll have a spot waiting for him. The Blackhawks had nine defensemen on the ice during Friday's morning skate, showing just how crowded the blue line is.

"It’s great," coach Jeremy Colliton said of having Davidson back on the ice. "More guys healthy, more competition we have for ice and spots. It’s not like he’s ready to come back, but good to see him on the ice. " 

At some point in the near future, the Blackhawks will have to make some roster decisions — perhaps even before the league-wide holiday freeze starting on Dec. 19. But Davidson isn't worried about where he fits in. He can only control what he can control, and getting back to 100 percent is his No. 1 priority right now.

"You know what, I haven't thought a lot about it," Davidson said. "I can definitely see that the numbers are up on the back end, but I feel that when it's time for me to do my job, I can do that to the best of my abilities and I can play for my job."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Bears vs. Packers, Week 15: How to watch, listen and stream

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USA TODAY

Bears vs. Packers, Week 15: How to watch, listen and stream

The Bears have their shot at redemption with the Green Bay Packers coming to town on Sunday. Chicago should be plenty motivated to avenge their devastating Week 1 loss, especially with the two teams trending in opposite directions this season.

Here’s how you can tune in to the game:

Game Information

Green Bay Packers (5-7-1) at Chicago Bears (9-4)

12:00 pm. CT, Sunday, December 16

Soldier Field, Chicago

Television

NFL on FOX
Announcers: Chris Myers and Daryl Johnston

Stream
Watch live with fuboTV — Try free trial

Football Aftershow on NBC Sports Chicago

Radio

WBBM 780 (Chicago)

Satellite Radio

Bears feed: XM 227

Packers feed: XM 225

Coverage on NBC Sports Chicago

"The Warm Up” — 15 minutes prior to every Bears game this season, host Laurence Holmes, along with analysts Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Matt Forte, will hold a special Facebook Live segment on NBC Sports Chicago’s official Facebook page — offering a game day preview featuring their expert commentary and predictions, plus - Bears fans will have also an opportunity to have their questions answered by submitting their game day inquiries via the “comments” section on the live stream.

“3rd Quarter Sidecast” — At the start of the third quarter of every Bears game this season, fans will also be able to interact with the Football Aftershow crew via Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago) as they watch and react to the first few series of the second half.

In addition, the “3rd Quarter Sidecast” will also feature more fan interaction as fans can post their thoughts and ask their questions to Briggs, Brown, and Forte.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears and stream the ‘Football Aftershow’ easily on your device.