The Bears beat the Vikings 28-10 to improve to 8-3 on the season but some key injuries could prove costly.
RB Matt Forte (ankle), WR Devin Hester (head), LG Chris Spencer (knee), RG Lance Louis (knee), CB Charles Tillman (ankle), LB Lance Briggs (foot) all came out of the game nicked up.
Forte re-injured his right ankle that forced him to missed two games earlier in the season.
Hester appeared to be out of it as he walked to the locker room in the first quarter. He will have to pass all the concussion tests to work his way back onto the field.
Spencer came in and out of action, but sat out most of the second half in favor of Edwin Williams. Spencer is scheduled for an MRI later today.
Louis was put on injured reserve on Monday. He was replaced by right tackle Gabe Carimi in Sunday’s game. Louis has been one the steadiest linemen outside of center Roberto Garza. He is a free agent after the season.
His injury really hurts the Bears. They will likely use a mix of Carimi and Williams at the guard positions as they look to add a couple more veterans.
Tillman exited the game but came back in the first half. He didn’t play in the second half and it was reported his day was done. He was often seen jumping up and down and coaching up the secondary. He has fought through injuries in the past, so don’t be shocked to see him give it a go against Seattle on Sunday.
Briggs was seen in a walking boot on his right foot after the game. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Briggs had his right ankle retaped in the second half and was hobbled because of it.
More news to come later this week on these key injuries for the Bears.
WR Brandon Marshall was a flat-out beast as he reeled in 12 of his 17 targets for 92 yards. He is a big reason the Bears sit a top the NFC North at 8-3. Without Marshall, Cutler and the rest of the offense wouldn’t be anywhere near as talented.
WR Earl Bennett stepped up his game adding four catches for 45 yards. He was a nice target for Cutler on a couple key third downs. If he can continue to rack up those big catches it could help Marshall draw less double teams.
RB Michael Bush added 60 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. He should have been in the mix the past couple of weeks alongside Forte. Now that Forte could be out a couple of weeks, Bush should see plenty more opportunities and that’s not a bad thing for this Bears’ offense.
LB Nick Roach added his fifth career forced fumble and first forced fumble of the season when he stripped Vikings RB Adrian Peterson in the first half.
DT Henry Melton added a sack to increase his season total to six. He had seven all of last season.
Rookie DE Shea McClellin looked solid in his return from a concussion. He added two tackles and 0.5 sack. Look for him to get more opportunities down the stretch.
CB Kelvin Hayden stepped up when he needed to. He filled in for Charles Tillman admirably adding three tackles and two pass deflections including one that stalled a Vikings drive.
Upon Further Review:
When Matt Forte re-injured his ankle the play really got out of hand. The officials didn’t blow the whistle when Forte was clearly down and it looked like Vikings safety Mistral Raymond had himself a touchdown.
It was initially ruled a fumble recovery for a touchdown as no one on the Bears side had any clue the play wasn’t whistled dead. Cutler stood in the backfield and just watched Raymond run into the end zone for the score.
But after a couple of minutes of Bears head coach Lovie Smith chatting with officials they took another look at it. It appeared as if it was going to be a similar play to the one that occurred in the Lions-Texans game on Thanksgiving that was unchallengable after Lions head coach Jim Schwartz threw a challenge flag to early.
But the referees straightened it out and got the call right. The touchdown would have changed the dynamic of the game, but luckily the referees made the correct call on the field.
Papa Bear Cutler:
Despite the fact that QB Jay Cutler looked determined in his return from a one game absence, he did some nice stuff on the field.
In the fourth quarter, LT J’Marcus Webb lost his shoe. Cutler came over and tied it himself. It cost the Bears a timeout, but it was a nice gesture from the offensive signal caller.
He did lose his tempure a couple of times as he was seen mouthing “are you f***ing kidding me” after TE Kellen Davis dropped a key third down pass.
He also tossed a ball at Vikings CB A.J. Jefferson after a big run. It appeared as if the Bears were going to score a touchdown on that drive, but the penalty pushed them back and they were forced to kick a field goal.
Overall, he played very well and with him under center this offense is a whole lot better. If he can stay healthy for the rest of the season this team could really make a push.