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Late surge by clawless Bears not enough in 21-14 loss to Vikings

MinnesotVikings running back Adrian Peters(28) celebrates with teammate Matt Kalil (75) after scoring 1-yard touchdown run during first half an

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) celebrates with teammate Matt Kalil (75) after scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy King)

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MINNEAPOLIS – The Bears didn’t finish the way they wanted against the Seattle Seahawks last game, and they didn’t start the way they wanted against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday.

Falling behind 14-0 six minutes into the game, the Bears managed to fight back but ultimately squandered too many chances in a 21-14 loss at Mall of America Field, dropping to 8-5 on the season.

The Bears couldn’t have started worse.

On the opening play of the game, Adrian Peterson cruised to a 51-yard gain then scored a one-yard touchdown five plays later. Then the Vikings scored just minutes later, after Bears rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery fell and quarterback Jay Cutler was intercepted by cornerback Josh Robinson, who returned the ball to the five-yard line.

Peterson scored again to give the Vikings a 14-0 lead.

But the Bears regrouped, with the defense settling down and the offense whittling away with a late second-quarter touchdown to give them some momentum. Jeffery, in his first game back after missing two after a knee scope, easily scored on a 23-yard touchdown by beating Robinson.

The Bears also had the momentum in the second half, as they neared midfield. On 3rd and 2, out of the shotgun, Cutler overthrew Marshall and his pass was intercepted by former Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith, who returned it 56 yards for a touchdown.

There was more drama for Jeffery.

In the third quarter, Cutler waved for him to run down the field, and he bolted for the end zone. Cutler aimed a ball at him, hitting both of his hands, but Jeffery couldn’t haul it in for what would have been a 39-yard touchdown.

Peterson paced his team early on and finished with 154 rushing yards on 31 carries. Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, meanwhile, completed just 11 of 17 passes for 91 yards.

They didn’t need much more, especially with the Vikings defense making some big plays, most notably the two interceptions of Cutler.

For the game, Cutler was 22 of 44 for 260 yards, and he made several clutch passes. But his two interceptions led to 14 points for the Vikings. Cutler also endured a handful of drops by his receivers, including potential touchdowns by Jeffery and Devin Hester. Tight end Kellen Davis also had a drop in the fourth quarter.

Brandon Marshall finished with 10 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown, breaking the franchise record with 101 receptions.

The Bears endured another rash of injuries with defensive tackle Henry Melton (shoulder), defensive end Shea McClellin (knee) and safety Craig Steltz (chest) not finishing the game. Cutler also gave way to Jason Campbell, who completed six of nine passes for 64 yards with the touchdown to Marshall.

There was no announcement on a Cutler injury, although he was rocked by Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen in the fourth quarter.

The Bears head back to Soldier Field, where they’ll host the Green Bay Packers next Sunday.

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