Michael Bush scored touchdowns on a pair of 1-yard runs; his first made possible by Nick Roach forcing an Adrian Peterson fumble recovered by Charles Tillman at the Minnesota 22. Matt Spaeth tacked on another TD with 1:48 remaining before intermission on a 13-yard circus catch near the edge of the end zone, which was set up by a Chris Conte interception.
The club’s other points came on a Robbie Gould 47-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Playing behind an offensive line featuring two new starters (left guard Chris Spencer and right tackle Jonathan Scott), Bears quarterback Jay Cutler suffered only one sack in the first quarter, and that came as a result of him tripping over Roberto Garza’s feet as the center snapped the ball. Otherwise, the group protected well in the first half; so well that on a couple of plays, Cutler stood in the pocket shuffling his feet for several seconds trying to find an open target.
Defensively, in addition to forcing a fumble, the Bears prevented Peterson from starting fast while safeties Conte and Major Wright broke up timely passes, including one in the end zone to Kyle Rudolph that would have gone for a touchdown.
Special teams even flashed in the first half, with Julius Peppers blocking a 30-yard field goal attempt by Blair Walsh with 12:00 remaining that prevented the Vikings from cutting into Chicago’s lead. Peppers’ blocked field goal marked the 12th of his career.
Here are a few halftime adjustments the Bears might consider:
The Bears failed to force a single turnover in their last outing Monday night against the 49ers, and that proved costly considering the club had become so reliant this season on turnovers. That’s why Tillman’s fumble recovery off Roach’s strip could be huge in getting the defense back to turnover-forcing mode. Perhaps it sparked Conte’s interception late in the first half
It’s no secret this team feasts off turnovers. So the Bears need to be looking to force more because not only does the defense have a knack for scoring off turnovers, those takeaways also usually give the offense prime field position.
CONTINUE TO MILK CONTRIBUTIONS FROM SUPPORTING CAST
Outside No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall, the Bears hadn’t gotten much help from the supporting cast of Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Evan Rodriguez and tight end Kellen Davis. That seemed to change a little in the first half Sunday with Bennett and Davis making key catches during Chicago’s first touchdown drive.
Bennett caught a short pass that he turned into an 11-yard gain by breaking a few tackles, while Davis -- who has dropped several passes this season -- hauled in a 15-yard strike from Cutler that moved the Bears to the 1 for Bush’s first TD run. Rodriguez caught an 11-yard pass during a 14-play drive spanning 80 yards capped by Bush’s second TD run late in the second quarter.
KEEP PETERSON LOCKED DOWN
It takes a team effort to defend Peterson, the NFL’s leading rusher. That’s why Chicago’s secondary deserves some credit for the job the Bears have done on him so far. Jennings made a shoestring tackle on Peterson that kept him from rounding the corner for a long gain in the first half. Wright and Conte also made key stops on Peterson despite running down the running back from across the field. That needs to continue for the Bears to pull out this victory.
Peterson rushed for 25 yards on seven attempts in the first half. With Minnesota playing from behind, Peterson won’t run as much in the second half. But when he does, the Bears need to shut him down.