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3 things we learned about the Bears

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CHICAGO — Teddy Bridgewater guided the Minnesota Vikings to a comeback win with 10 points in under two minutes on Sunday at Soldier Field.

“That’s why you play 60 minutes,” said Bridgewater, who completed just 10 of 20 passes for a 38.1 passer rating entering the fourth quarter.

That’s when Bridgewater decided to trust his receivers.

Bridgewater connected with wide receiver Charles Johnson on a 35-yard pass play to set up Blair Walsh for a 36-yard field goal and give Minnesota a 23-20 win over the Chicago Bears.

“Can’t win on the road. Can’t win in a temporary stadium,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said of purported reasons his team won’t win. “Keep coming up with them.”

Running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 103 yards, but Bridgewater finding his groove in the final 1:49 saved the Vikings (5-2) and might have buried the Bears.

“At this point, we can’t point fingers. We can’t let up,” Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said.

Bridgewater completed 10 passes in the first three quarters but hit the two that counted.

Bridgewater finished 17 of 30 for 187 yards.

The Bears dropped to 2-5 with back-to-back division losses by three points.

What we learned about the Bears:

1. They’re hurting, and pain is coming for dessert next week.

The Bears suffered abysmal breakdowns in the secondary on the two key plays in the fourth quarter, and their secondary is out of sorts behind a respectable pass rush. Safety Antrel Rolle was out of position and mistimed his jump on a 35-yard completion with 30 seconds left that set up Minnesota for a game-winning field goal. Nickel cornerback Sherrick McManis whiffed badly when dynamic rookie receiver Stefon Diggs took a short completion 40 yards for a game-tying score one minute earlier.

“They could never get into a rhythm in the passing game,” Rolle said of the Bears’ defense Sunday. “We didn’t allow any touchdowns until the end of the game.”

Those, of course, were the points that made the difference.

Next up for the Bears is a date with Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who leads the forward-passing world in yards and averages 7.9 yards per attempt.

2. Line play is changing the offense.

Center Matt Slauson made his first career start at the pivot, necessitated by rookie Hroniss Grasu being inactive, and left tackle Jermon Bushrod sat out again, pushing Charles Leno into the lineup.

The changes led to a serious shift for the Bears, who used a few three-tight end sets and chronically had Cutler getting rid of the ball with receivers just a few yards into their routes by design.

“We got more and more comfortable as we went,” offensive tackle Kyle Long said. “At the time, I think we need to start the way we want to start.”

3. Wait and see on MVP Matt Forte.

When running back Matt Forte took a swing pass to the right in the second quarter and saw safety Harrison Smith bearing down on him, he gathered to hurdle over Smith but never got his cleats out of the turf. Smith’s form tackle placed his helmet directly on the inside of Forte’s right knee and ended the 30-year-old running back’s game prematurely.

Forte has 25 receptions and leads the team with 548 rushing yards. Without him, the offense was predominantly a passing attack, and rookie backup Jeremy Langford gave the Bears 12 carries for 46 yards. However, he dropped a would-be first down from quarterback Jay Cutler on the last offensive snap from scrimmage that could have changed the final minutes drastically.

Forte’s value to the Bears is immense. However, with the trade deadline looming, his name will circulate — only if he’s healthy — and could net the Bears a handsome return. If Le’Veon Bell’s knee injury prompts the Steelers to jump or another contender sees the valuable yet economically cheap Forte — in the final year of his contract — as an upgrade, he could be gone.

Etc.

–QB Jay Cutler had a 94.4 passer rating with a touchdown pass and 211 yards passing, completing 22 of 33 attempts, but the play his teammates were raving about in the locker room was the 4-yard touchdown run that put Chicago ahead 20-13 in the fourth quarter.

“Ballsy effort by Jay,” right tackle Kyle Long said, a sentiment echoed by wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.

“That’s what you want from a quarterback,” Jeffery said. “He played his (butt) off.”

–WR Eddie Royal left the game with a knee injury in the first half, as did RB Matt Forte. Royal was the target on designed wide receiver screens in the first quarter and caught three of them for 2 yards, resulting in a 0.7-yard average and two direct shots from oncoming Vikings’ defenders. Royal was also hit hard on his one carry in the game, a reverse that netted a one-yard loss.

–RS Marc Mariani made one of the highlight catches of the game Sunday out of the slot on the final scoring drive of the game for the Bears. But his hands were the source of some concern in the first quarter, when he muffed consecutive punts. Mariani was charged with two fumbles. The Bears are likely to audition players for the role this week, at least from their own roster.


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