Martellus Bennett #83 of the Chicago Bears makes the game-winning touchdown catch over Chris Cook #20 of the Minnesota Vikings with 10 seconds left in the game at Soldier Field on September 15, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Vikings 31-30. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - Jay Cutler threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds left to lead the Chicago Bears to a 31-30 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
"(It was) a very difficult loss," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "Our guys played extremely hard for four quarters, battled, battled, battled."
Minnesota's Blair Walsh had just kicked a 22-yard field goal with 3:15 remaining when Chicago took over at its 34. Cutler, who led the Bears back from an 11-point deficit in a season-opening win over Cincinnati, struck again.
"That last two-minute sequence I could have done different. I told our players, 'As a staff, I don't think we could have asked for any better preparation or any better fight from our team,'" Frazier said.
A 23-yard pass to Bennett along the sideline put the ball on the 16. Cutler then spiked the ball before connecting with Bennett in the front corner of the end zone.
Chicago remained unbeaten under new coach Marc Trestman, a St. Louis Park native, despite committing four turnovers.
Cutler completed 28 of 39 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns. But he was also intercepted twice and got stripped by Jared Allen on a sack, leading to a 61-yard touchdown return for Brian Robison in the second quarter.
The Vikings did give up some lengthy kick returns to Devin Hester, but they also had a 105-yard kick return for a touchdown by Cordarrelle Patterson to start the game. And rookie punter Jeff Locke had two punts downed inside the 20 and almost a third.
The Vikings won the turnover battle forcing four Bear turnovers, but Minnesota had three turnovers of their own. Adrian Peterson lost a fumble in the third quarter and John Carlson fumbled the squib kick while trying to pitch the ball on the final play of the game.
The most costly turnover was by Christian Ponder, who threw a pick that Tim Jennings returned for a touchdown. It came just after the Vikings had forced an interception on a batted pass at the goal line to keep the game tied at 14.
After that Ponder rebounded a bit. He finished 16 of 30 for 227 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
"He really took charge after the interception for a touchdown," Frazier said. "He didn't waver. He stayed strong and committed to playing good clean football. I am really proud of the way he bounced back and played down the stretch for us. He made some big time throws."
But despite better play from Ponder, the Vikings could only manage field goals in the second half despite being in the red zone three different times.
"These games definitely stay with you. It's a tough loss. It's a tough one to get over, but we'll have to ... We have to be able to put it behind us. We will," Frazier said.
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