Vikings beat Bears at buzzer, 23-20

SHARE Vikings beat Bears at buzzer, 23-20
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Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw for a touchdown and ran for another Sunday. (Getty Images)

The Bears lost Matt Forte and Eddie Royal, and then the game.

The last item — a 23-20 defeat, was, at least in the short term, the most painful moment Sunday at Soldier Field.

The Vikings tied the game with 1:49 to play. On third-and-4, Teddy Bridgewater, who had struggled all game, threw a pass to Stefon Diggs, who spun away from an overmatched Sherrick McManis — who was only in the game because of rookie Bryce Callahan was being evaluated for a concussion — and ran toward the left pylon for a 40-yard score.

The Bears got the ball back and punted with 1:10 left after Jeremy Langford, replacing Forte, dropped a pass on third-and-five.

Then the Vikings marched for what would end in a 36-yard Blair Walsh field goal, aided by a 35-yard pass to Charles Johnson on a jump ball that Antrel Rolle had every chance to stop.

The Bears’ final score came with 4:55 to play, when Jay Cutler rolled right and took off for the end zone, plunging forward and knocking safety Harrison Smith backward for a touchdown.

The Bears scored their other touchdown after a play seen less often than a Sasquatch — a turnover by their defensive backfield. The unit’s first of season came when cornerback Kyle Fuller jumped an “in route” by receiver Stefon Diggs with 1:01 to play in the first half.

Starting from Minnesota’s 34, Cutler threw an incomplete pass and then completed two-straight balls to Alshon Jeffery. The second, a 21-yarder in the left corner of the end zone, tied the game at 10 at halftime.

Robbie Gould made season-long 55-yard field goal four minutes into the game and a 33-yarder midway through the third quarter to increase his perfect mark to 17-straight. Then the Bears kicker missed a 51-yarder, allowing the Vikings to start their drive at the 41 toward the end of the third quarter. Walsh capped the drive with a 48-yard kick to tie it at 13 with 13:29 to play in the game.

The Vikings’ first touchdown marked the Bears’ latest special teams failure.

The Bears punted to end their second drive of the game, and Marcus Sherels ran up the right sideline unobstructed for a 65-yard score. The return was third allowed by the Bears for a touchdown this season, the others being a league-high two kickoff returns.

Royal and Forte were both lost in the third quarter due to knee injuries. The latter happened after Forte caught a pass and was tackled by Vikings safety Harrison Smith. Forte walked to the locker room under his own power, but was flanked by two Bears officials. He diagnosed with a right knee injury.

Langford took his place and ran seven times on the Bears’ final scoring drive for 21 yards.

The Bears started the game with a makeshift offensive line. Rookie center Hroniss Grasu was inactive because of a neck injury suffered in Wednesday’s practice, so left guard Matt Slauson made his first career start in the middle. Right guard Vladimir Ducasse moved to left guard, giving Patrick Omameh his first start of the season at right guard.

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

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