From Comcast SportsNetCHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Bears got Jay Cutler back from a concussion, only to lose three more stars to injuries.Start with Devin Hester. Add Matt Forte and Charles Tillman to the list, and just for good measure, throw in two starting guards.Consider this a painful win.Cutler threw for 188 yards and a touchdown after missing a game, and the Bears broke it open early in a 28-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.The injuries, however, tempered some of the good feelings.Tied with Green Bay for the NFC North lead and just a game ahead of Minnesota (6-5) coming in, the Bears (8-3) grabbed a 25-3 halftime lead thanks to Cutler's pinpoint passing. The defense held Adrian Peterson in check early on, although he finished with 108 yards rushing.Chicago also came away with three more takeaways to increase its total from a league-leading 30 entering the game to 33.The rather easy win came after back-to-back losses to Houston and San Francisco, but it also came with a heavy price.The Bears lost Hester, a receiver and record-setting return specialist, early to a concussion. And that was just the start.Forte, their top running back, hobbled to the tunnel midway through the third quarter with an ankle injury. Coach Lovie Smith said Tillman, their star cornerback, also hurt his ankle.Besides those three, the Bears lost both guards in the third quarter to knee sprains, with Lance Louis and Chris Spencer going down. Louis' injury on a blindside hit by Jared Allen as Antoine Winfield returned an interception forced Chicago to go with Gabe Carimi, who lost the right tackle job to Jonathan Scott.Spencer, meanwhile, was in the lineup after Chilo Rachal left the team.If the Bears are going to develop any continuity on the line, well, don't expect it anytime soon."I don't think it's possible now," Cutler said. "With all the moving parts we have and Lance going down, you're not going to have that. We're going to have to roll with the guys we have and see what we have, lean on our defense as we have before, run the ball well. Be efficient through the air. See how far we go."As for Cutler, he looked sharp after missing Monday's blowout loss at San Francisco.Back after being knocked out of the Texans game on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Tim Dobbins, he got off to a scorching start and completed 23 of 31 passes with an interception to go with his TD."I felt good," Cutler said. "It was a matter of going through the motions, talking to the doctors. I had a good week of practice, a shorter week with the Monday game and Thanksgiving."Brandon Marshall caught 12 passes for 92 yards and became the first Bears receiver since Marty Booker in 2002 to go over 1,000 yards. He now has 1,017 yards this season, his sixth straight with 1,000 or more."In the third quarter, I leaned over to Jay and said, That catch puts me at 1,000 yards for six seasons in a row.' And he looked at me and said, You're disgusting,'" Marshall, the Bears' big offseason acquisition, said, laughing.He added he knew he was closing in because followers on Twitter had mentioned it.On defense, Henry Melton set the tone by sacking Christian Ponder on the first play from scrimmage. Nick Roach set up the first touchdown by knocking the ball out of Peterson's hands. Chris Conte set another TD with a 35-yard interception return, and Julius Peppers blocked a field goal.The league's leading rusher, Peterson tied Robert Smith's club record with a 100-yard performance for the fifth straight game even though he managed just 25 in the first half. He also lost two fumbles and had to catch a cab to the stadium and arrived about 90 minutes before kickoff, according to reports.Ponder wasn't much help, going 22 of 43 with 159 yards and a touchdown along with an interception. His favorite target, Percy Harvin, sat out his second straight game with a sprained left ankle, and the Vikings lost for the third time in four games."We knew what we were getting into," Peterson said. "They wanted to make a statement. I thought it was more so what we did, giving the ball away, not making routine plays. Can't wait to see them again."He won't have to wait long, with the Bears visiting Minnesota on Dec. 9.Cutler completed 15 of 17 passes for 117 yards in the first half, and the Bears jumped out a big lead after a shaky start on offense.Forte fumbled on Chicago's first play from scrimmage, leading to a 40-yard field goal by Blair Walsh -- all the scoring the Vikings did in the half.The Bears broke it open late in the second half.Bush scored from the 1 and holder Adam Podlesh ran in for a 2-point conversion that made it 18-3.Ponder got picked off by Conte and he returned it 35 yards to the Minnesota 13. That led to a scoring strike from Cutler to a lunging Matt Spaeth on the next play.NOTES:Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he and Peterson were going to have a talk about punctuality after Sunday's delayed arrival. "There is something that Adrian and I need to talk about regarding getting to the stadium," he said. ... Allen thought his hit on Louis after Winfield's interception was a clean one. "I turned around, he was running to make a tackle and I threw myself into him to make a block. My condolences to him and his family. I never, ever, try and intentionally hurt anybody."
The Bruins made a number of signings official on the first day of NHL free agency on Friday along with the big prize in hard-hitting, productive center David Backes.
Backup goaltender Anton Khudobin signed a two-year deal worth $1.2 million per season to return as a goaltending tandem with Tuukka Rask as they were back in a highly successful 2012-13 NHL season.
Hustling, grinding fourth line forward Riley Nash was signed to a two-year, $1.8 million contract with the Bruins as well, and had nine goals and 22 points in 64 games for the Carolina Hurricanes last season in an energy forward role. In his five-year NHL career, Nash has played in 242 games, amassing 31 goals and 50 assists for 81 points with 69 penalty minutes, including a career-high 10 goals a couple of years ago with the Hurricanes.
The 36-year-old John-Michael Liles signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Bruins after arriving from Carolina at the NHL trade deadline last spring. Liles appeared in 17 games and notched six assists along with a minus-6 rating for the Bruins in 2015-16 after being acquired for Anthony Camara, a 2016 third-round pick and a 2017 fifth-round pick on February 29, 2016. Prior to joining up with Boston, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Liles played in all 64 games for Carolina, recording six goals and nine assists for 15 points with 16 penalty minutes.
“We went out to identify a primary target in David Backes as a center, right wing candidate. He provides depth and balance to our lineup, as did Riley Nash. And Anton Khudobin addressed an area that we seemed to have chased for a little while and possibly with Malcolm’s [Subban] injury we needed to address that for the next couple of seasons. John-Michael Liles is a player that we acquired last year that really added a lot to the mobility and the transition game and we’re excited about bringing him back,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “Tim Schaller was a local boy at Providence College that we went out and identified another size, strength, left-shot, penalty kill and continued to add depth. Tyler Randell emerged last year was on our roster all year long, contributed and was a real hard-nosed player, sticks up for his teammates, was able to contribute goals, albeit not necessarily in the lineup every night, bringing balance. And Tommy Cross and the leadership qualities he brings to Providence for younger players to continue to develop.
“He found himself playing in NHL games, acquainted himself very well, just a real quality person across the board. So I think the overall philosophy of today and going into the free agent period was to address some needs and we did that. But we’ve created what I think is a real internal competition for our younger players to step up and emerge around what I think we’ve added to the core group of our players. They should be excited about this opportunity.”
Tommy Cross, Tyler Randell and Tim Schaller all signed one-year, two-way deals with the Bruins for an NHL value of $600,000, but are all expected to play the bulk of the season at the AHL level barring anything unexpected.
Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs
A. Sherrod Blakely discusses the big money deals players have been receiving.
BOSTON – It’s a toss-up as to which was celebrated more by Boston Celtics fans: Dwight Howard coming to terms with the Atlanta Hawks, or the fact that it significantly improves Boston’s chances of landing one of their top free agent targets Al Horford.
A league executive texted CSNNE.com that Howard being off the market and going to Atlanta, should make the Celtics the favorite to land Horford.
Acquiring Horford, a four-time all-star, would be the biggest free agent signing in the Danny Ainge era. Boston is scheduled to meet with Horford tonight and is expected to offer him a four-year, $113 million max contract.
But as much as the Celtics want Horford, their primary target remains Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant who may be more inclined to seriously consider Boston if they were to acquire Horford.