LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears got the win they needed. They still have plenty of room to improve.
"It was a little rough, still had a slow start, still wasn't good enough, but we got the win and we're going to enjoy it," Brandon Marshall said Monday. "I guess we're done enjoying it, we got back to work (Monday) and watched film and we really held each other accountable and focused on how we can continue to get better and build off of it."
It was hardly a flawless performance. But after getting blown out at New England and Green Bay and joining the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons as the only teams to give up 50 or more points in back-to-back games, the Bears will take it.
The Bears gained nearly twice as many yards as Minnesota (468-243) and dominated time of possession (38:38-21:22).
Jay Cutler completed 31 of 43 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns. Alshon Jeffery (11 catches, 135 yards) and Marshall (90 yards receiving, two touchdowns) dominated the Vikings' smaller defensive backs. Matt Forte finished with 117 yards on a season-high 26 attempts after running just twice in the first quarter.
For all those positives, the Bears got off to another slow start, falling behind 10-0 after being outscored a combined 94-7 over the first halves of the previous three games, and they hardly lit up the scoreboard in the end with 21 points.
They also committed three penalties on their first possession, although they only had four the rest of the way. And their special teams gave up a 48-yard end-around by Andrew Sendejo on a fake punt.
"This was definitely a much-needed win," said Ryan Mundy, who sealed it with an interception in the end zone in the final minute. "It was a great team effort all around. There's always going to be an ebb and flow to the football game. It's never going to be perfect. I'm sure there's going to be things we can build off of defensively, but this is a step in the right direction."
The Bears thought they would be a more refined product, challenging for a playoff spot. Instead, they're simply trying to salvage something from a season in which they came apart.
The win over the Vikings was a step even if it was a flawed performance, and Chicago will try to make it two in a row when Tampa Bay visits Sunday.
Chicago will be seeing some familiar faces in former coach Lovie Smith and quarterback Josh McCown. Smith spent nine seasons in Chicago, led the 2006 team to the Super Bowl, but was let go after the Bears missed the playoffs despite winning 10 games in 2012.
They've been on a decline since, going 12-14 under Trestman, and will likely miss the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years.
"The thing I can tell you about Lovie is that I've watched him for years and played against him for years and I know him as a person and I have tremendous respect for him as a person in all areas," Trestman said. "That's the only thing I can speak of at this point, and I truly mean that."
NOTES: Trestman would not say if Marshall was disciplined for challenging a Detroit fan to a charity boxing match on Twitter. "It's an issue between Brandon and I," he said. Marshall would not say if there were any repercussions, adding, "I refuse to go there."