Chicago, IL – Michael Bush had two touchdowns on the ground and the Chicago Bears took a 28-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings in an NFC North battle from Soldier Field.
Jay Cutler, who returned to play after sitting out last week's loss to San Francisco with a concussion, was 23-for-31 with 188 yards, one touchdowns and one interception for the Bears (8-3), who snapped a two-game skid to move a game ahead of Green Bay for first place in the NFC North after the Packers lost to the Giants later Sunday.
"This was a big win for us because you can't lose division games at home," said Chicago head coach Lovie Smith. "We were committed to the run and that really helped us today. Jay Cutler was really good today after coming off that injury. All of our guys came out ready to play."
The Packers are in action on Sunday night in New York against the Giants.
Christian Ponder was 22-for-43 with 159 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Vikings (6-5), who were coming off their bye week and lost for a third time in their past four games. Adrian Peterson carried the ball 18 times for 108 yards in the loss.
"It was a very disappointing game today since we didn't execute the way we needed to on the road," said Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier. "We struggled in a number of areas, including third down and the red zone on both offense and defense. We didn't get that done and they made some big plays on special teams."
Minnesota was held to a quick three-and-out on the opening drive of the game, but Matt Forte fumbled on the first snap and Minnesota recovered at the Chicago 28.
The Bears defense held, though, and the Vikings came away with a 40-yard field goal from Blair Walsh for a quick 3-0 lead.
Chicago then went three-and-out, but Peterson fumbled on the first snap and Chicago recovered at the Minnesota 34. On the sixth play, Bush rumbled into the end zone from a yard out for a 7-3 lead with 7:17 to play in the first quarter.
The Bears again held Minnesota and got the ball back near midfield after Chris Kluwe's bad punt went out of bounds after going 23 yards. The team only got to the Minnesota 29, but that was enough for a 47-yard field goal from Gould for a 10-3 lead.
The Vikings got down the field on their next touch and Walsh lined up for a 30-yard field goal, but Julius Peppers got a hand on the ball for the block.
Chicago then went on a lengthy drive that ate up almost eight minutes of the clock and featured three third down conversions and a fourth down make. Bush capped the march with his second 1-yard score of the game. The team then added a two-point conversion when holder Adam Podlesh took the snap and ran in from the left side for an 18-3 lead with 4:01 to play in the half.
Ponder was then picked off by Chris Conte, who returned the ball to the Minnesota 13 and the next play saw Cutler roll to his left and find Matt Spaeth, who made a nice grab and kept both feet in for a 25-3 lead.
Chicago had once last chance to add to its lead as the team held Minnesota to a three-and-out and got into field goal range, but Gould's 39-yard attempt was blocked by Kevin Williams as time expired.
Cutler was picked off by Antoine Winfield early on Chicago's first touch of the second half to give Minnesota the ball at the Chicago 40. The first play saw a face mask penalty on Chicago and Ponder capped the short drive was a 2- yard scoring toss to Kyle Rudolph to make it a 25-10 game just over four minutes in.
Minnesota nearly made it a one-score game as a Forte fumble was recovered by the Vikings and taken into the end zone. It was initially ruled a score, but replay showed that Forte's knee was down and it was overturned. The Bears would up with a 46-yard field goal from Gould for a 28-10 lead with 3:57 to play in the third.
The Vikings came back with a lengthy drive and got into the Chicago red zone. They came away with nothing, though, as Ponder's pass on 4th-and-2 at the 8- yard line fell incomplete early in the fourth quarter.
Minnesota had three more possessions in the final frame, but didn't make it past midfield until the final possession which saw that end when Peterson was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 and Chicago ran off the rest of the clock.
Minnesota wide receiver/kick returner Percy Harvin sat out the game with a sprained left ankle ... Peterson missed the team bus to the stadium this morning, but caught a cab and made it to the game on time ... Chicago returner/wide receiver Devin Hester left early in the contest with a concussion. Also, Forte and guards Lance Louis and Chris Spencer left with knee injuries. Cornerback Charles Tillman left the game as well with an ankle injury ... Chicago finished the game with 113 rushing yards, with Bush totaling 60 and Forte adding 42 ... Chicago wide out Brandon Marshall led all receivers with 12 catches for 92 yards ... Chicago controlled the ball for 37 1/2 minutes ... Chicago has won six straight against Minnesota and these teams will meet again in two weeks in Minnesota.