Cutler, Howard lead Bears to 20-10 win over Vikings

Cutler, Howard lead Bears to 20-10 win over Vikings

Blake Casey
November 10, 2016

"Our ace is back". Howard had 153 yards rushing and a touchdown on 26 carries and caught four passes for 49 yards. They even scored a touchdown in the third quarter to increase their lead as their record has climbed into 2-6.

"It was an unbelievably well-designed play", Cutler said. "When we're not balanced, when we're not able to come out and stay balanced, it makes it tough on us".

Howard's 5.1 yards-per-carry compare favorably to Ezekiel Elliott's 5.0 yards-per-tote, and one could surmise that Howard would be higher on the rushing list than he now is had he received more than 12 carries, total, after the first three weeks of the season. Howard made big plays from the get-go including a 69-yard run on his second carry of the game. Howard showed excellent situation awareness and instinct to turn a scrambling shovel pass into a 34-yard gain in the second quarter. But with his future up in the air after coach John Fox wavered in his commitment to him as the starter, he made a triumphant return. And at running back? "Sometimes you've got to get some lucky bounces". "Those guys played inspired football". But a Jeffery drop in the end zone forced the Bears to settle for the field goal.

After totaling 285 receiving yards over the first two games, Diggs only had 105 yards on 11 catches against the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles. The wideout got behind the Bears secondary but Bradford's pass was a little long and Diggs could not make the diving catch. "It feels great, man, really just a great team effort", Miller said. We didn't play good enough. "We fought our butts off".

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) throws against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. The previous long run against the Vikings was 20 yards.

Guards down: Pro Bowlers Kyle Long (triceps) and Josh Sitton (ankle) were inactive for Monday night's game. But the defense shut Minnesota down and sacked Bradford for a 10-yard loss. Teams have red zone problems, but that is putting it mildly for what the Vikings are doing. When he got time, which was rare, he either feared a sack and sacked himself or threw the ball offline or too early down field.

"I think it was more fun just to watch my teammates and see how hard they played and how well they played", Cutler said.

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"You know, there's a lot of reports", Fox said. "And we did that". A season-high five sacks defensively and just one sack given up by the patchwork offensive line.

"I missed some things early that could have changed it for us, " Bradford said. If you don't remember the Bears had an very bad offensive line from the time Cutler got there until pretty much now even though they've steadily improved. The suddenly disciplined Bears committed no turnovers and a season-low penalties.

Limiting Minnesota to a field goal rather than a touchdown proved to be a big boost for the defense. But if Minnesota's offensive coordinator can not figure out some way to dig his team out of it, Minnesota's once-promising season is going to go up in flames, in a hurry.

"The few games we lost in the past, we were right there. As the reps progressed through the week, we liked it even more".

"Our key is what Vic [Fangio, defensive coordinator] always says, and it rings true: "Execution fuels emotion, '" said linebacker Sam Acho. We just have to figure out the way that we did it, what the formula was those first five weeks". And when you consider the state of the personnel in Minnesota, it becomes plainly obvious that this poor post-bye stretch isn't an aberration.

The Vikings trailed 20-3 after three quarters.