Reporting Josh Liss
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CHICAGO (CBS/AP) – Matt Hasselbeck tossed for a season-best 242 yards and Seattle’s defense sacked Jay Cutler six times in a 23-20 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
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Cutler was on the run and took another beating. So did the Chicago Bears.
Cutler was in trouble much of the game, and completed just 17 of 39 for 290 yards. He missed last week’s game with a concussion after being sacked nine times by the Giants the previous week.
The biggest hit came in the closing minutes when Devin Hester ran a punt back 89 yards, equaling an NFL record with his 13th kick return for a touchdown.
During the play, Earl Bennett lowered his shoulder and leveled punter Jon Ryan. Ryan stayed down for several minutes before walking off.
The Seahawks (3-2), coming off a bye week, got a needed lift by beating a team that was tied for the league’s best record. Chicago fell to 4-2.
Seattle had made several big moves since a loss to St. Louis two weeks ago, trading receiver Deion Branch back to New England and acquiring Marshawn Lynch from Buffalo hoping he could ignite a stagnant running game.
He ran for 44 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth that made it 23-13 and capped a 92-yard drive, but Hasselbeck was the one who provided the big lift.
The veteran completed 25 of 40 passes, with Mike Williams setting career-highs with 10 catches and 123 yards. Justin Forsett also ran for 67 yards and a touchdown.
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It was a rough day all around for the Bears, who fell to 4-2 with their second loss in three games.
Cutler was sacked three times in the third quarter alone, including one by Jordan Babineaux for a safety early in the half that bumped Seattle’s lead to 16-13.
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Cutler had no help from the running game, with Matt Forte managing just 11 yards on eight attempts after going for a career-high 166 yards with two TDs last week, or an offensive line using its fourth starting lineup.
And with Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs nursing a left ankle injury, a defense that has been solid couldn’t bail them out.
The Seahawks got a scare when Hester ran back that punt and Ryan got leveled, but they were in control for much of the afternoon.
Cutler, meanwhile, was out of sync in the early going, completing just 1 of 5 passes in the first quarter even though things looked promising at the start.
Seattle’s Roy Lewis got called for pass-interference on a deep ball along the right sideline intended for Hester on the game’s second play from scrimmage, a 58-yard penalty that put the ball on the 22.
Forte then caught a short pass for 13 yards before running it in from the 6 two plays later to give the Bears a short- lived 7-0 lead.
Hasselbeck immediately led the Seahawks on an 80-yard drive, with Deon Butler beating Charles Tillman on the left side for a 22-yard TD catch that tied it and silenced the crowd.
Seattle grabbed the lead in the opening seconds of the second quarter, when Forsett scored on a 9-yard run through the middle, with two teammates pushing him from behind as he plowed through the pack at the goal line.
Cutler started to get it together after that, leading the Bears from their own 19 to the 11 before Robbie Gould kicked a 34-yard field-goal to make it a four-point game.
Later, with the ball on the 8, Johnny Knox froze Marcus Trufant with a cut toward the right and made a neat catch along the right sideline, staying in bounds as he raced upfield for a 67-yard reception that fell one shy of his career-long.
That set up a 24-yarder from Gould with 1:10 left in the half, pulling the Bears within 14-13. But Seattle added to its lead early in the third, when Cutler dropped back to pass with the ball on the 10. Matt Forte didn’t pick up the blitz, leaving Babineaux with a clear path to the quarterback, resulting in a safety that made it 16-13.