Associated Press, Published September 15 2013
Cutler, Bennett lead Bears over Vikings
Cutler threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds left to lead the Chicago Bears to a 31-30 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Minnesota’s Blair Walsh had just kicked a 22-yard field goal with 3:15 remaining when Chicago took over at its 34. Cutler, who led the Bears back from an 11-point deficit in a season-opening win over Cincinnati, struck again.
A 23-yard pass to Bennett along the sideline put the ball on the 16. Cutler then spiked the ball before connecting with Bennett in the front corner of the end zone. Robbie Gould kicked the go-ahead extra point and Chicago (2-0) remained unbeaten under new coach Marc Trestman despite committing four turnovers.
Cutler completed 28 of 39 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns. But he was also intercepted twice and got stripped by Jared Allen on a sack, leading to a 61-yard touchdown return for Brian Robison in the second quarter.
Devin Hester returned five kickoffs for a Bears-record 249 yards – including a 76-yarder and an 80-yarder.
Bennett had 76 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Brandon Marshall had seven catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. Matt Forte chipped in with 71 yards receiving and 90 yards rushing.
Minnesota’s Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 105 yards to tie a club record. Christian Ponder threw for 227 yards, a touchdown and an interception after getting picked off three times in a season-opening loss to Detroit. Adrian Peterson ran for 100 yards, but the Vikings (0-2) remained winless at Soldier Field since 2007.
They looked as if they might pull this one out after two 13-play drives led to 28-yard field goals by Walsh, turning a 24-21 halftime deficit into a 27-24 advantage in the fourth quarter.
The first came after Chicago’s Isaiah Frey recovered a fumble by Jarius Wright in the end zone, only to have it overturned on a replay review. Harrison Smith set up the second when he intercepted a long pass from Cutler to Marshall at the 12 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Peterson kept the drive going with a 4-yard run to the 14 on fourth-and-1, only to be hit with a 13-yard loss on the next play, and Walsh booted the go-ahead field goal with just over 8 minutes left.
Letroy Guion stripped Forte of the ball near midfield on Chicago’s next possession. That led to Walsh’s 22-yarder that made it a six-point game, but Cutler and the Bears had one more rally in them.
The late theatrics capped a game that featured no shortage of big plays in the early going.
Patterson got this one off to an explosive start with that huge return to start the game, taking advantage of some big holes and sprinting past a lunging Gould on the way to the end zone. The 105-yarder matched the club record set by Percy Harvin last year and was the first kickoff return for a touchdown by a Bears opponent since 2007.
After Patterson’s big return, Hester returned the kickoff 76 yards before being pushed out of bounds at the 32. That led to a 1-yard TD catch for Bennett.
Minnesota 7 14 3 6 – 30
Chicago 14 10 0 7 – 31
Min – Patterson 105 kickoff return (Walsh kick), 14:47.
Chi – M.Bennett 1 pass from Cutler (Gould kick), 12:12.
Chi – Marshall 34 pass from Cutler (Gould kick), 1:04.
Min – Robison 61 fumble return (Walsh kick), 7:34.
Chi – Jennings 44 interception return (Gould kick), 2:51.
Min – Rudolph 20 pass from Ponder (Walsh kick), 1:11.
Chi – FG Gould 20, :00.
Min – FG Walsh 28, 2:32.
Min – FG Walsh 28, 8:05.
Min – FG Walsh 22, 3:15.
Chi – M.Bennett 16 pass from Cutler (Gould kick), :10.
A – 62,181.
First downs 19 24
Total Net Yards 350 411
Rushes-yards 33-123 26-129
Passing 227 282
Punt Returns 0-0 0-0
Kickoff Returns 4-150 6-263
Interceptions Ret. 2-0 1-44
Comp-Att-Int 16-30-1 28-39-2
Sacked-Yards Lost 1-0 1-8
Punts 3-56.7 3-37.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 2-2
Penalties-Yards 3-25 4-35
Time of Possession 29:26 30:34
RUSHING: Minnesota, Peterson 26-100, Ponder 6-18, Gerhart 1-5. Chicago, Forte 19-90, Jeffery 2-30, Cutler 3-9, Bush 2-0.
PASSING: Minnesota, Ponder 16-30-1-227. Chicago, Cutler 28-39-2-290.
RECEIVING: Minnesota, Jennings 5-84, Rudolph 3-42, Simpson 2-49, Patterson 2-14, Wright 1-21, Carlson 1-7, Peterson 1-7, Gerhart 1-3. Chicago, Forte 11-71, Marshall 7-113, M.Bennett 7-76, E.Bennett 2-19, Jeffery 1-11.
MISSED FIELD GOALS: None.