The Chicago Bears are a 2-5 football team after Sunday's 23-20 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
For the second week in a row, the Bears were in position to put the game away late in regulation, yet found a way to lose, this time on a 36-yard Blair Walsh field goal as time ran off the clock.
The Bears are now 1-11 in their last 12 games against NFC North opponents, and are the only team in the NFC without a conference win this season.
It's worth remembering this is a rebuilding year and losses are unavoidable for a team lacking in overall talent, yet that doesn't make today's defeat any easier for Bears fans.
With that in mind, here are five playere who stood out for how well they played on Sunday, as well as five players that stood out for how poorly they played in front of the Soldier Field crowd.
Cutler completed 22 of 33 passes (67 pct.) for 211 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT, good for a 94.4 QB rating. He also had two carries for 11 yards and a rushing touchdown. Cutler was calm in the pocket, extended plays with his feet and did not put the ball in harm's way. He continued his streak of intelligent decision making and didn't commit a turnover for the first time all season. Cutler played well enough for the Bears to win, which includes a fourth-quarter pass on 3rd down in which he bought time by scrambling out of the pocket and found RB Jeremy Langford on a crossing route for what would have been a crucial first down, only Langford dropped it. As he's done all season, Cutler gave the team a chance to win.
McPhee didn't have a huge game but that was due in large part to the Vikings continuously chipping him on the edge with tight ends and running backs. Yet, when the Bears neded a big play, McPhee rose to the occassion. After the Bears took a seven-point lead with less than five minutes to play in the game, McPhee sacked QB Teddy Bridgewater, which shoved the Vikings back to their own 9-yard line for a 2nd-and-17 play. It was McPhee's team-leading fifth sack of the season.
Fuller had his best game in more than a year. He had a quality pass breakup on a third-down play early in the game, which forced the Vikings to punt. Then, late in the second quarter, Fuller picked up his first interception since the 2014 season finale, undercutting a deep crossing route and snatching the ball out of the air before returning it 15 yards. The play led to a Robbie Gould field goal that tied the game up going into halftime. For the Bears, hopefully Fuller can use this performance to gain back some of his confidence.
Jeffery was targeted 15 times, hauling in 10 passes for 116 yards and a 28-yard touchdown in which he rose up and over the defender in the back of the end zone. Jeffery has now been targeted 26 times out of Cutler's 74 passes the past two games, and has been borderline unstoppable since returning from a hamstring injury. If Jeffery keeps this up, he'll be in line for an egregiously large contract this upcoming off-season. Whether it's from the Bears or another NFL team remains to be seen.
Callahan, who was just elevated from the practice squad a few weeks ago, started at nickelback and played very well. He finished second on the team with four tackles, one for loss in which he stuffed Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in the backfield. Callahan left the game in the fourth quarter due to a concussion and the wheels immediately fell off on defense. Who would have predicted the late-game loss of Callahan would be the largest factor influencing the home defeat.
Rolle actually had a decent game, particularly as the field general of the defense, as there were no blatant missed assignment in the secondary. Yet Rolle had an opportunity to make a huge play for the Bears in the fourth quarter and failed to finish. On a deep pass just off the right hash, Rolle baited Teddy Bridgewater into the throw and was in perfect position to pick up the interception. Yet, at the last second, Vikings WR Charles Johnson jumped in front of Rolle and hauled in the 35-yard reception. That play happened with 36 second left in the game and could have been a game-changing turnover. Instead, the Vikings ended up in field goal range and won the game two plays later.
The Bears demoted McManis this week, starting Callahan at nickelback. Yet after Callahan was concussed, the team had no choice but to again insert McManis. He promptly picked up a defensive holding penalty. Three plays later, he allowed WR Stefon Diggs to catch a pass over the middle and then missed the tackle. Diggs then sprinted 40 yards for the game-tying touchdown. If McManis wasn't a special teams ace, his play on defense would have already resulted in him being cut. He's been that bad.
Coming off a year in which he led all NFL tight ends with 90 catches, Bennett has been an utter disappointment this season. He's had one good game this year, Week 4 against the Raiders, and has been nearly invisible in the other five. He finished today with a Kellen-Davis-like line of 3 catches for 32 yards. It might be time to concede that Bennett is little more than a pedestrian tight end who flourished for one year in a pass-happy offense.
Langford filled in as the starting running back after Matt Forte left the game with a knee injury. He had 46 yards on 12 carries and ran hard, which was a positive. Yet he dropped a pass on a crucial third-down play late in the fourth quarter that forced the Bears to punt. Four plays later, the Vikings kicked the game-winning field goal.
The Bears are horrible on special teams. They allowed their league-leading third return touchdown against the VIkings, a 65-yard punt return by Marcus Sherels, while Robbie Gould's missed 51-yard field goal in the third quarter looms large over the final score.