By Adam Hoge-
SOLDIER FIELD (CBS) While Sunday’s 28-10 win over the Vikings was keyed largely by the return of Jay Cutler, the Bears starting quarterback got another outstanding performance from his No. 1 wide receiver.
Brandon Marshall continued his big season Sunday by catching 12 passes for 92 yards, putting him over the 1000 yard mark on the season. It’s been 10 years since a Bears receiver went over 1000 yards as Marshall is the first to do so since Marty Booker in 2002. Booker also holds the Bears’ record for most catches in a season — 101 in 2001 — a number Marshall is quickly closing in on. Marshall has 81 catches for 1017 yards and eight touchdowns on the season.
“In the third quarter I leaned over to Jay (Cutler) and said, ‘That catch puts me at 1000 yards for six seasons in a row’ and he looked at me and said, ‘You’re disgusting.’ So yes, I’m aware of it,” Marshall said.
The Bears wideout gave credit to his Twitter followers for his knowledge of Bears receiving records, saying they let him know every day what he is closing in on. Those followers will be happy to know that Marshall intends on breaking those records and hopes to end his career in Chicago.
“I hope this is the last place that I catch 1000 yards,” Marshall said. “I’m really proud to be a Bear and when I look back on my legacy as a football player, I want it to be as a Bear. This is a great opportunity for me, my family, and I just need to continue to work. I’m not there yet, on and off the field. I have to do a better job and I understand that.”
Getting Some Help
Marshall was quick to give credit to his fellow receivers who found a way to get open Sunday. That has not often been the case this season, but Cutler completed passes to eight different targets in the game, including Earl Bennett, who emerged with four catches for 45 yards.
“The thing I loved today was Earl Bennett got us started making big plays and Kellen Davis making a big catch for us. That’s what I want to see and that felt good out there seeing those other guys involved early. When they do that it’s just a matter of time before I get going.”
Matt Forte, Evan Rodriguez, Eric Weems and Michael Bush also caught at least one pass in the game. Tight end Matt Spaeth — not exactly known for his receiving abilities — made an outstanding 13-yard touchdown catch too.
A Costly Win
Sunday’s win came at a hefty price as the injuries piled up for the Bears.
A cliché of an NFC North game, Sunday’s matchup was as physical a game as the Bears have played all season. It was so bad that Bears head coach Lovie Smith admitted he had to write down the injuries on a piece of paper before addressing the media so he didn’t forget them.
Five significant Bears starters left the game with injuries and did not return, while three players total — two Vikings players — suffered concussions.
The worst of the injuries may have come on the offensive line, where right guard Lance Louis — widely regarded as the Bears’ best offensive lineman this season — went down with a knee injury. He appeared to take a big blow to the head by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, but the Bears were looking at his leg when he went to the sideline and diagnosed him with a knee injury. Meanwhile, left guard Chris Spencer, taking over for Chilo Rachal who left the team this week, also suffered a knee injury. He tried to come back into the game, but quickly left again and did not return.
As for the concussions, Devin Hester was the first to go down with a head injury, while Minnesota safety Harrison Smith and tight end Kyle Rudolph followed.
The Bears also lost cornerback Charles Tillman and running back Matt Forte to ankle injuries, although Tillman spent a large portion of the second half itching to get back in the game, often running part way onto the field in-between plays. It’s possible the reliable corner would have returned had the Bears not had a sizable lead.
As is normal protocol for the Bears, Lovie Smith did not provide any details as to the extent of the injuries.
It’s something the Bears always preach and rarely win without: a positive turnover ratio. After losing the turnover battle the last two weeks in losses to the Texans and 49ers, the Bears got back to forcing takeaways Sunday.
They forced two Adrian Peterson fumbles, recovering them both, and picked off Christian Ponder once. They also turned the Vikings over on downs twice in the fourth quarter.
“In order for us to win, that’s a base part and it’s not a good defensive game unless we’re able to take the ball away,” head coach Lovie Smith said. “We got back on track today.”
For more Bears coverage throughout the season, follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamHogeCBS.