Chicago vs Minnesota: Winners and Losers in Bears Loss
The Bears were already playing without Brian Urlacher and Tim Jennings on defense, but injuries continued to plague the Bears throughout the entire game, and the Bears dropped yet another close game. Now, their playoff hopes have been put in serious jeopardy.
Before the game, Robbie Gould strained his left calf, forcing the Bears to go for it on fourth downs and making Adam Podlesh, the punter for the Bears, kick off the ball.
The Bears also lost players during the game that later came back but still missed playing time, including Charles Tillman and Henry Melton.
As in any game, there were winners and losers for Chicago in Sunday's loss to Minnesota, and all of those winners and losers are listed right here.
Winner: Brandon Marshall
This has become a slide that readers expect week in and week out this season.
Marshall had himself yet another career day, catching 10 passes for 160 yards and getting yet another touchdown.
Marshall has become the center of the offense in Chicago no matter who is the quarterback. Even when Cutler was out at the end of the game, Marshall managed to grab a touchdown catch, his eighth of the season.
He now has 1,182 yards on the season, already having one of the best seasons in Chicago history.
Marshall had two key plays, one where he caught a pass on fourth down to keep a drive alive and the touchdown pass late in the game to give the Bears hope with under two minutes to go.
Brandon Marshall has become an expected winner every game he plays in, because he is a leader on and off the field and has the respect of his teammates. But more importantly, he has earned the respect of opposing teams and really opened up the offense for Chicago, making him a threat at all times.
Loser: Opening Defense
After the first drive of the game, the fans of the Chicago Bears felt like they were watching a repeat of last week's game.
The defense couldn't come up with a way to stop Adrian Peterson and the offense from Minnesota, as fans of the Bears were left screaming at their television sets and watching Peterson march right down the field 80 yards for a touchdown, giving the Vikings an early 7-0 lead.
That was really the touchdown that put the Bears away. The Vikings got 14 points off of turnovers, meaning there wasn't really much else the defense could have done to help its team, especially with how many injuries they had on the defensive side of the football.
If the defense had gotten a stop early on in this game, who knows where the game could have gone from there? The Bears put themselves away way too early, allowing Peterson to go down the field and score on them.
Next week is the Green Bay game, and the defense is going to have to be on its game from the opening kickoff to the final whistle. If next week's opening drive is any indication of how the team is going to start next week, the Bears are in for a rough game.
Winner: Alshon Jeffery
Alshon Jeffery dropped a touchdown catch and fell down running a route, which led to an interception and eventual touchdown by the Vikings. So why is he walking away from this game a winner?
People have to keep in mind that while he is extremely talented, Jeffery is still a rookie and does make mistakes. The thing that makes a rookie better is how he responds to mistakes.
Jeffery fell down in a route, and Cutler lost confidence in him and chose to pass up throwing the ball his way a few times after. When Cutler went his way again, Jeffery stepped up in a big way, grabbing a touchdown to bring the Bears within a touchdown at halftime.
Jeffery showed that he can help the Bears in a big way on offense, being a legitimate threat on the opposite side of Brandon Marshall. He will cut down on the mistakes as he gets more experience, and gaining 57 yards and a touchdown today was a big step towards success for Jeffery.
Loser: Kelvin Hayden
Kelvin Hayden showed today how much Tim Jennings means to this team, and how much the Bears will need him back next week.
Hayden didn't play extremely bad, but he is no Jennings, and that is why he ends the game as a loser.
Minnesota's only interception thrown was caught by Major Wright, and it seemed like if Jennings were in the game, there would have been more turnovers committed by Ponder and the Vikings offense.
Jennings leads the league in takeaways, an area where the Bears have had a fair amount of success this season. Hayden had a chance to show him up and try to get back into the starting lineup, or at least get a decent amount of playing time when Jennings returns, and he failed.
Now the Bears are going to be forced into rushing Jennings back for the game next weekend against Green Bay, a game that the Bears desperately need to win if they want to be in playoff contention. Keep in mind also that Jennings intercepted Aaron Rodgers when they met earlier this season.
Winner: Devin Hester the Returner
Hester finally had a successful day returning the football for the Bears and showed the team that he can still be a decent return man in the NFL.
Hester had five punt returns for 58 yards, averaging almost 12 yards per return against the Vikings.
The Bears have always placed a big amount of trust in their special teams game, and so far this season, it has been less than stellar to say the least. They are going to need Hester to keep getting big chunks of yards on punt returns if they want to scare opposing teams into punting away from him again and get themselves decent field position.
Hester is a key part to the success of the Bears, and not on the receiving core. The team needs him to be a good return man, and if he has more days like he had today, it will help the Bears tremendously down the stretch.
Loser: Jay Cutler
Cutler had himself a bad day, plain and simple.
Cutler threw two interceptions that led to 14 points for Minnesota, and also got another injury in the head/neck area, and his status for next week is up in the air once again.
The Bears need Cutler if they want to win; everybody knows that. Regardless of how he played today, the team has a better chance of winning with him under center than they do with Jason Campbell or anyone else back there.
I've said time and time again that Cutler need to be protected, and he was not today. He was hit and knocked around, and the end result was him once again getting knocked out of a game.
Cutler had an off day and also took another hit to the head, making him a loser from the loss to Minnesota. He needs to be back under center and making smarter throws having better communication with his receivers next week if he wants to help his team beat Green Bay and fight their way back into the NFC North title race.
Winner: Matt Forte
Matt Forte had a big day today playing opposite Adrian Peterson and helped keep the Bears in this game all the way until the end.
Forte had 13 rushes for 85 yards, meaning his average yards gained/rush was 6.5.
While it may have taken him a while to get going, Forte still kept fighting in this game and helped his team in more ways than one.
He also caught six passes for 34 yards, making his total yards gained on the day 119 yards.
Forte got a big deal this offseason, and lived up to his expectations today. He ends this game as a winner because he showed that he can still run the football pretty well, and when he isn't running it or picking up blocks to help protect Cutler, he can also catch the football and help the team any way he can.
Loser: J'Marcus Webb
Webb had two big penalties Sunday, and hurt his team more than he helped them in the loss to the Vikings.
Not only did Webb commit two holding penalties because he was too slow to compete with Jared Allen, but he also allowed Allen to break through the line too many times, including the play where Allen held the legs of Cutler and he got hit in the neck by Everson Grifffen, knocking him out of the game for good.
If there is one area where the Bears need to pick it up, it's the offensive line. The line had rallied together and was playing better, even Gabe Carimi.
Webb was the weakest link in the chain today, and he was quite possibly one of the biggest reasons that the Bears lost the game to the Vikings.
Next week is Green Bay, and we all remember how much of a field day that Clay Matthews had lining up across from Webb back in Week 2. If they want to be close in that game and protect whoever they have under center, Webb has to move his feet better and block like his life depends on it.
Winner: Lance Briggs
Briggs needed to step up and be the leader on defense with Urlacher out this week, and he did just that.
While Hayden may have failed at filling in for Tim Jennings, Briggs and the rest of the linebacking core stepped their game up to help the defense stop Adrian Peterson after the huge first quarter he had against the Bears.
Briggs finished the game with 11 tackles, six of which were solo tackles and one of which was a tackle for a loss.
Briggs is a big presence in the middle of the field, and he made his presence known on Sunday. After all of the problems the Bears have had on defense in the last few games, Briggs is a refreshing change of pace, and the Bears don't need to worry at all about him the rest of the season.
While there may be a lot of things for the Bears to fix in the next few days before they take on the Packers, they can rest assured that they don't need to worry about Briggs.
Loser: Kellen Davis
Davis was targeted eight times today and caught just three passes for a total of 25 yards. Not a very good day for someone who is supposed to be the best tight end on the team.
The Bears got rid of Greg Olsen because they needed a blocking tight end, and that's why they chose Kellen Davis over him. Now, with a new offensive coordinator, the Bears have gone back to trying to target their tight ends in the passing game, an area where Davis has not played well at all this season.
Davis isn't the right fit for the Bears going forward, plain and simple. Part of that is the coaching staff, switching back to targeting the tight end in the passing game more and more. It seems every week the Bears are moving closer and closer to replacing Davis with Speath full-time and cutting Davis out of the equation all together.
For now, Davis is still a member of the Chicago Bears. That means that he needs to step up his game for the remainder of his time in Chicago, no matter how much longer that will be. Davis has got to start playing better football and making the catches that he is supposed to, or else the whole team will suffer as a result of it.
Time is running out for Davis and the entire Chicago Bears team. If they don't do a complete 180 and turn their season around, they could be watching this postseason from home, and there could be a lot of changes being made this offseason.