CHICAGO (AP) – The last time the Chicago Bears scored this many points, Walter Payton was taking handoffs and Mike Ditka was prowling the sideline.
Kyle Orton threw two touchdown passes, special teams chipped in with two more and the Bears hung on for a 48-41 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Chicago intercepted Gus Frerotte four times even though its injury-riddled secondary was missing starting cornerbacks Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman, along with nickelback Danieal Manning. The Bears also lost star kick returner Devin Hester to a quad injury in the third quarter, yet Chicago still managed to put up its most points since beating Tampa Bay 48-14 at home on Dec. 7, 1986. It was the most points the Bears have ever allowed in a win.
The Bears survived a late push by Minnesota after building a 17-point lead and won even though Adrian Peterson ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
Orton completed 21 of 32 passes for 283 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown pass to Marty Booker that made it 41-31 with 2:35 left in the third quarter. Kevin Payne then picked off Frerotte, and after a questionable pass-interference call against Vinny Ciurciu on fourth down at the 1, Matt Forte ran it in to extend Chicago's lead to 48-31 in the opening seconds of the fourth.
But this time, the Bears hung on.
So instead of bemoaning another lost opportunity, the Bears (4-3) breathed a sigh of relief.
One week earlier, the Bears scored a touchdown with 11 seconds left only to lose 22-20 at Atlanta on a last-second field goal by Jason Elam – another difficult loss in a season in which they've blown late leads while falling to Carolina and Tampa Bay.
This will only add to the angst of Vikings fans calling for head coach Brad Childress' dismissal. There were several questionable decisions to go with the sloppy play by the special teams.
Berrian, who signed a six-year deal with Minnesota, caught six passes for 81 yards against his former team.
Frerotte was 25-of-40 for 298 yards after winning three of his first four starts, but the interceptions were costly.
The special teams were a mess. Again. The Vikings have allowed five TDs this season on special teams.
The first one Sunday came on a strange sequence in the opening quarter, when Chris Kluwe dropped a snap and had his punt blocked. He then attempted an illegal kick, and Garrett Wolfe returned it 17 yards for a touchdown. Later, Charles Gordon muffed a punt by Brad Maynard when he tried to block Bowman. Instead, the ball hit him and Bowman recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown that gave Chicago a 24-17 lead.
The Bears took a 27-24 lead into halftime on a last-second 48-yard field goal by Robbie Gould, and increased it to 10 on the opening drive of the third quarter thanks to another lucky bounce.
With the ball on the Minnesota 36, Desmond Clark caught a short pass and then fumbled at the 1 when he got sandwiched by Tyrell Johnson and Cedric Griffin. Teammate Rashied Davis recovered in the end zone to make it 34-24.
Peterson made it a three-point game when he broke through a hole on the left side, turned to his right and ran by Mike Brown for a 54-yard touchdown, but Childress made a questionable decision after the Vikings recovered a fumble by Orton midway through the third. Rather than hand the ball to Peterson or Chester Taylor on fourth-and-1 at the Chicago 36, the Vikings decided to pass instead and the result was an incompletion.
Booker then caught a 51-yard touchdown pass that made it 41-31 with 2:35 left in the third, and Chicago caught two more big breaks as the lead grew to 17. First, Payne returned an interception 50 yards to the Minnesota 6, leading to a 1-yard TD run by Forte that made it 48-31 in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter.
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