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Jay Cutler returns to Chicago Bears, keys easy victory

Sometimes, football is simpler than we think. Jay Cutler returns, and suddenly, the Chicago Bears look like world beaters again.

Chicago's offensive line didn't pass protect that much better, but Cutler's ability to extend plays and make throws that other quarterbacks just can't were the single biggest factors in the Bears' 28-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

This game was over by halftime, when the Bears built a 25-3 lead. At that stage, Cutler had two incompletions on 17 attempts. The Vikings had just three first downs. Many of Cutler's throws -- like his touchdown toss to Matt Spaeth -- were into small windows under heavy pressure.

So Cutler was the big difference in moving the Bears to 8-3. What else mattered?

1. The Bears dominated time of possession. While three turnovers helped, the Bears did a nice job possessing the ball with short passes and plenty of runs. The runs weren't always that effective, but Chicago stuck with them.

2.Christian Ponder isn't built to play from behind. The Vikings' young quarterback struggled with pressure throughout the game. He's took quick to leave the pocket, and his accuracy was not good with defenders around him. Ponder had to throw 43 passes to get 159 yards. That's awful. He really missed Percy Harvin.

3. The score of the game didn't help, but the Vikings still didn't use Adrian Peterson enough. They had a third-and-2 inside the 10-yard line in the second half. Peterson was dominating the game at that point. Minnesota called two consecutive passes. Both fell incomplete, essentially ending the game. Peterson had an early fumble, though, which has happened too much lately.

4. The Bears won, but this could be a costly game. The following starters were hurt: Running back Matt Forte, cornerback Charles Tillman, wide receiver/return man Devin Hester and starting guards Lance Louis and Chris Spencer.

5. The Vikings still are tied for the last playoff spot in the NFC at 6-5, but it's easy to see that quickly turning into 6-7 with games against the Green Bay Packers and Bears coming up next.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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