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Devin Hester worked up the crowd before a kickoff in the second quarter. He scored two long touchdowns, one receiving, the other on a kick return.

Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Cutler, Hester double trouble for the Vikings

  • Article by: BOB HURST
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • October 17, 2011 - 6:05 AM

CHICAGO - This one was a piece of cake for Jay Cutler. And double that for Devin Hester.

The Chicago Bears' quarterback and kick returner/wide receiver teamed up to ruin the Vikings' Sunday evening in Chicago as the Bears won 39-10.

After spending last Monday night in Detroit scrambling and making up plays on the fly, Cutler was able to execute the plays that were actually called for him. And Hester, who has a history of hurting the Vikings with touchdown returns, added another one just after the Vikings had a glimmer of hope on Adrian Peterson's third-quarter scoring run.

Cutler threw a touchdown pass on his second attempt against the Vikings at Soldier Field, hitting Hester in stride up the middle for 48 yards.

"When you get a big one like that, it sets the tone," Cutler said.

Cutler completed his first five passes and went 14-for-20 for 193 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the first half. He ended up completing 21 of 31 for 267 yards, and this time, the Bears offensive line did a better job of pass protecting. Cutler took shorter drops and was better at not hold on to the ball too long.

"Our game plan was very sound this week," Cutler said. "We're just being a little more picky on what we can and can't do. Ball's out of my hands, ball's gone. We're helping out the offensive line."

In the second quarter, Cutler connected with Hester for a 23-yard gain to the Vikings 13, and then threw a 13-yard TD pass to Dane Sanzenbacher for a 23-3 lead with 6 minutes, 41 seconds left before halftime. That was his 15th touchdown pass in six games against the Vikings.

Later in the quarter, Hester's receptions of six and three yards helped set up a 51-yard field goal by Robbie Gould that gave Chicago a 26-3 lead with 30 seconds left before the break. Two catches by Hester for 14 yards late in the third quarter set up Gould's 22-yard field goal, completing the scoring.

Hester finished the first half with three receptions for 77 yards, and added two more catches for 14 yards before leaving with a chest injury after the third quarter.

But before he left, Hester reminded the Vikings of the skill that made him famous. After Adrian Peterson's 4-yard touchdown run pulled Minnesota to within 26-10 at 10:23 of the third quarter, Hester took the ensuing kickoff and sprinted 98 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown and a 33-10 lead.

"There's never been anyone like him," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Does it surprise me? It used to, but not anymore. I've seen so many great plays, great runs by him, you do tend to expect him to break it each time he touches the ball. We all kind of witness history every time he touches it."

Hester came into the game with three punt return touchdowns against the Vikings, including one for 64 yards last season. The Vikings know they will have to do a better job of stopping them when they meet again New Year's Day.

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