PRO FOOTBALL

Bears still searching for an identity after sneaking past the Vikings 31-30

2013-09-15T19:00:00Z 2013-09-16T18:25:22Z Bears still searching for an identity after sneaking past the Vikings 31-30Al Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
September 15, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Jay Cutler almost had one foot in the doghouse. He was so close, he could feel the fleas.

The Bears quarterback was having a terrible Sunday afternoon against the Vikings, throwing two interceptions, losing a fumble and costing his team 10 points with those turnovers.

And then suddenly, Mr. Cool appeared.

With 3:05 remaining, Cutler led a 10-play, 66-yard drive capped by his 10-yard touchdown throw to Martellus Bennett in the left corner of the end zone for a 31-30 comeback win at rainy Soldier Field.

"It's early in the season and we're still trying to find our identity. Right now, it's a team that doesn't quit," said Bennett, who caught seven passes for 76 yards and two TDs.

"Don't worry, you Bears fans. There isn't a team in the NFL playing at its finest after just two weeks."

That includes the unbeaten Bears (2-0), who had four turnovers and two drives stall inside the Minnesota 2.

Cutler erased one drive when Kevin Williams intercepted his tipped pass. On the second, right before halftime, Cutler misfired on three passes from the Minnesota 2 and Chicago settled for a Robbie Gould field goal.

"We're happy anytime we win, but we must all play better and that includes Jay and our defensive line," coach Marc Trestman said.

The Bears had one sack while Henry Melton, Julius Peppers and Corey Wooten combined for only four tackles up front against Minnesota (0-2).

It was a crazy, YouTube kind of first half.

You had Cordarrelle Patterson taking the opening kick a stadium record 105 yards for a 7-0 Vikings lead, followed by Devin Hester's 76-yard kickoff return setting up Cutler's short TD toss to Bennett.

You had Jared Allen sacking Cutler, who fumbled, and Brian Robison rambling 61 yards to tie it at 14-14.

You had Hester, looking ridiculous once again, taking a kickoff 80 yards. But Cutler's throw to Steve Maneri moments later was tipped and picked off by Kevin Williams in the end zone.

And you had Tim Jennings' 44-yard interception return TD.

"That's what we do as a defense," he said.

Cutler finished 28 of 39 for 290 yards and three touchdowns. Matt Forte, getting enough touches to make even him smile, ran for 90 yards and caught 11 passes for 71 yards. Brandon Marshall had seven receptions for 113 yards and a TD.

"I've got to play better. I know that," Cutler said. "But we've got guys on the edges who all want the ball and when they get it, they can make plays."

Hester might be back to his old terrifying self, finally, after returning five kickoffs for a club-record 249 yards -- an average of 49.8.

"He's amazing," Bennett said. "Each time he touches the ball, it's like: 'OK, what's gonna happen?'"

Said Hester: "It's not like I've been on vacation. My mindset is to score. That opening return touchdown (bleeped) me off and motivated me even more."

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