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updated: 11/25/2012 7:22 PM

Grading the Bears: 3 to 4 footballs in all categories

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Game ball

Sure, the game ball could've gone to Brandon Marshall and there wouldn't have been much of an argument. But Marshall will have a ton more opportunities down the road and the same might not be said for tight end Matt Spaeth. So, for your tremendous catch in the end zone which broke the game open, Matt Spaeth, this game ball's for you.

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Quarterback 3.5 balls

Not a bad return to the lineup for Jay Cutler. After some early wobbliness, Cutler found his feet in a very workmanlike performance (23 for 31, 188 yds, 1 TD). Cutler's first-quarter stiff arm and ball toss to his vanquished opponent not only was a tone-setter, it was also priceless.

Receivers: 4 balls

Ho-hum, just another 12-catch game for Brandon Marshall. And how many of those catches were for first downs? That's right, a lot. In addition to Marshall, long-forgotten Earl Bennett reappeared, adding 4 catches for 45 yards.

Running backs: 3 balls

The Bears came into the game wanting to run, and that they did, rushing the ball 39 times. But even though it kind of felt like were rolling on the ground, they only totaled 113 yards for a 2.9 average per rush. But they did eat a lot of clock.

Offensive line: 3.5 balls

Leading up to this game the main concern was the replacements on an already shaky O-line. Then when two starters left with injuries it became concern over the replacements for the replacements. Not to worry, though. they did just fine.

DEFENSE

Defensive line: 3 balls

Henry Melton set the tone with a sack on the Vikings' first play from scrimmage, and Julius Peppers added a blocked field goal. But other than that, kind of a quiet day for this group.

Linebackers: 3.5 balls

As the season goes on, Nick Roach seems to be getting better and better. Roach and Lance Briggs shared team-high honors with 7 tackles apiece. A very quiet afternoon for Brian Urlacher.

Secondary: 3.5 balls

Even after Charles Tillman went down with an injury, the Bears kept the Minnesota passing attack in check. Chris Conte had a nice day with an interception and a pass breakup -- along with Major Wright -- in the end zone. It was one of 2 pass deflections on the day for Conte.

Special teams: 3 balls

Remember when the Bears were a threat to break a return every week? Yeah, that was cool. They remained pedestrian in that department before and after Devin Hester left with a concussion. Robbie Gould had a FG blocked and just barely squeaked a PAT over the crossbar. The highlight for the day was Adam Podlesh's 2-point conversion run.

Coaching: 3.5 balls

It was a fired-up group that took the field Sunday. And a group that returned to the basics of ball control and defense, and it paid off with victory No. 8.

-- Mike Spellman

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