By Chris Emma–

CHICAGO (CBS) — On third down, with a game-winning drive on the line, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler scrambled away from pressure and found his man. Jeremy Langford was open. The ball hit him square in the hands. The rookie running back dropped the ball.

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Cutler showed brief frustration, then responded with poise. He felt for Langford, normally a reliable target out of the backfield. Cutler knew that Langford wanted that one back.

“I just got to focus better on the ball and secure the catch to help my team out — and Jay Cutler,” Langford said after the game.

If Langford is still holding onto that one mistake, he can’t for long, because now his number has been called. Bears running back Matt Forte suffered an injury to his right knee during the third quarter of Sunday’s 23-20 loss to the Vikings at Soldier Field. In came Langford, tasked with replacing Forte.

Bears coach John Fox didn’t want to speculate on the status of Forte’s injury, but the team is ready if Langford has to become the starter in a potential absence for Forte.

“There’s only one Matt Forte in the NFL, but we don’t think we lose any slack when Jeremy is in the game,” Bears tight end Martellus Bennett said.

Forte, 29, is in a contract year, with his future in Chicago remaining uncertain. He had brought the Bears productivity early on this season, but it takes just one injury to hamper that. Langford was picked in the fourth round with the hopes that he could step in at running back. The Bears have to hope that time didn’t come earlier than expected.

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In relief of Forte, Langford rushed 12 times for 46 yards. He continued to show comfort as a complement to Forte, then was thrown into primary duties.

Langford, a Michigan State product, had shown his skill all season long. He’s already inspired belief in his abilities, just seven games in.

“He’s going to be a heck of a player for us,” Cutler said, later comparing Langford to Forte.

Added Bennett: “He’s been doing very well.”

But Langford’s day will be remembered for one horrible miscue. If he hauled in the pass for a first down with about 1:10 let, the Bears would’ve either continued a drive to win the game or likely killed off enough clock to force overtime. As it went, they punted to the Vikings, who drove down the field for a game-winning field goal in the final seconds.

All Langford could do after the game was hang his head. Teammates tried to pick him up from the mistake.

“We will see what the extent of Matt’s injury is,” Cutler said. “But I look forward to (Langford) having a long career here.”

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Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.