The Chicago Bears were once again plagued by the same problems on Sunday: missed opportunities and key drops.
Losing 21-14 on the road against the Vikings might not seem so bad, but the Bears had plenty of opportunities to take control of this game.
They have lost four of their last five games and have totally lost control of their own destiny in the NFC playoff push.
The Bears outgained the Vikings 438 to 248 in total yards, but the Vikings simply made more plays.
Jay Cutler’s interception in the third quarter that Vikings safety Harrison Smith took back 56 yards for a touchdown really cost the Bears.
Down 21-7, the Bears had their chances, but couldn’t capitalize. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall made big catches throughout the day racking up 160 yards and one score on 10 catches.
But his performance wasn’t enough as the other receivers around him failed to make the most of their opportunities.
Jay Cutler found Alshon Jeffery for a 23-yard touchdown late in the second quarter. The Bears were down 14-7 at that point.
But Jeffery made two big mistakes on the afternoon. He slipped on a pass intended for him in the first quarter that was intercepted by Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson. Running back Adrian Peterson found his way into the endzone for the second time following Cutler’s interception and put the Vikings up 14-0 early in the first quarter.
Later in the game, Jeffery dropped what appeared to be a touchdown pass that would have tied the game up at 14.
Even when things looked gloomy for the Bears, Cutler found a way to drive his team down the field.
With around four minutes left, Cutler tossed a nice pass to Devin Hester, who failed to reel in what should have been a touchdown catch. On the next play, Cutler forced a bullet to Marshall that he failed to reel in.
The Bears’ defense forced the Vikings to punt on their next offensive possession as the Bears used all three of their timeouts to preserve the clock.
Cutler was announced done for the day with a neck injury around the four minute mark. He suffered the neck injury in the second quarter on a nasty hit by Vikings defensive end Everson Griffin.
Jason Campbell relieved Cutler and completed six of nine passes for 64 yards and one touchdown to none other than Brandon Marshall.
The Bears went for the onside kick, but Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph fielded the ball and ended the Bears hopes for a comeback.
Besides Cutler’s injury, they were without defensive tackle Stephen Paea (foot) for the entire game as he was announced as inactive prior to kickoff. Defensive tackle Henry Melton was in and out of action with a shoulder injury and defensive end Shea McClellin left the game in the first half with a knee injury.
Cutler said after the game that he is day-to-day. Expect him to be under center when the Bears host the first place Packers on Sunday.
A Look Ahead:
The opportunities were there once again for the Bears to get their ninth victory of the season, but too many miscues led to this loss.
You can say the Vikings played better, but they didn’t, If you look at the box score it makes you wonder how the Bears didn’t win.
14 points isn’t going to cut it if this team wants to make a deep run into the playoffs.
Devin Hester, Alshon Jeffery and Kellen Davis all had key drops that really plagued the offense’s momentum. Hester and Jeffery each dropped what appeared to be touchdowns.
Cutler’s pick six proved to be the difference maker, but you certainly can’t blame him for this loss. He fights his butt off for this team each and every week.
Just imagine how much better this offense would be with a solid offensive line and talented tight end to stretch the middle of the field.
The Bears have been fighting through these problems all season long. They can be covered here and there, but in the end its what is going to backfire on this team.
You can blame coaching and the front office, but they put plenty of talent on both sides of the ball to compete for a championship.
Plays are just being left out on the field and its inexcusable. Brandon Marshall can’t be the only offensive weapon relied on, Hester, Jeffery and Davis have to step up and make plays when their number is called.
One positive from this game was running back Matt Forte’s performance, he added 85 yards rushing on 13 carries and 34 yards on seven catches. His longest run was 36 yards as he averaged six yards per carry on the afternoon.
The season isn’t over yet, but if the Bears can’t get their act together it soon could turn into another wasted effort similar to 2011.
With three games left, one home game against the Packers and two road games against the Cardinals and Lions, the Bears will get to prove if their worth.
The time is now for the Bears to make the push for the playoffs. If not they could be on their couches early this season.
Don’t write off the 2012 Bears. Not yet at least.