Sluggish first half not acceptable, McCown says

MINNEAPOLIS — For the sixth straight game, including four starts, backup quarterback Josh McCown put up impressive numbers, although his record as a starter dipped to 2-2 Sunday in the 23-20 overtime loss to the Vikings.

McCown completed 23 of 36 passes for 355 yards, the third-highest yardage total of his 11-year career and 3 yards more than he had last week in the 42-21 loss at St. Louis.

With 2 TD passes and no interceptions, McCown’s passer rating of 114.9 was his fourth game this season over 100.0.

But, despite 480 yards of total offense, the Bears managed just 2 touchdowns and were held to just 2 field goals in a sluggish first half.

“I don’t know if it was that we weren’t clicking because we moved the ball and we made plays,” McCown said. “Matt (Forte) ran the ball well (120 yards), guys made plays outside (Alshon Jeffery had a franchise-record 249 yards on 12 catches).

“It was just things here and there, where we did not convert third downs when we needed to.”

The Bears were a disastrous 2-for-11 on third downs. Although McCown played turnover-free football for the fifth time in his six games, he did launch an ill-advised shovel pass toward Forte that wound up being deflected to Bears guard Kyle Long, who fumbled when tackled at the Bears’ 18-yard line.

The Vikings didn’t score, but McCown wasn’t happy with his decision.

“Just not a good play, not a smart play,” McCown said. “If you’re going to be the player that you want to be, you can’t do those things. It’s just frustrating because I feel like for the most part, up until then, I have eliminated those things. I’m very upset with myself for that one.”

McCown said the 6-6 Bears can’t be concerned about their remote playoff possibilities.

“We can’t worry about the standings,” he said. “We have to worry about our standing. The standings don’t matter if you don’t win football games, so we just have to focus on doing the things we have to do to get better.”

Lineup changes:The defensive line was healthier than at any time since Week 5, thanks to reinforcements at tackle, but the Bears still allowed 496 total yards.Nose tackle Stephen Paea was back in the starting lineup after a one-week absence because of a recurrence of the turf-toe injury that sidelined him for two weeks earlier in the season.Jeremiah Ratliff, a four-time Pro Bowler with the Dallas Cowboys, was active for the first time as a Bear.Both had 1 tackle, and Paea had a half-sack.Veteran safety Craig Steltz got his first start in almost two years in place of Major Wright, who was inactive after tweaking a hamstring during Friday#146;s practice. Steltz led the Bears with 12 tackles.By the numbers:After picking up 16 yards on a draw play in the first quarter, Matt Forte moved past Neal Anderson (8,929) into second place in franchise history in yards from scrimmage.With 120 rushing yards on 23 carries and 2 receptions for 31 yards, Forte has 9,068 yards from scrimmage. Walter Payton leads all Bears with 21,264 yards.Sitting it out:Quarterback Jay Cutler (ankle), linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder), safeties Major Wright (hamstring) and Anthony Walters (groin), offensive linemen Jonathan Scott and James Brown and defensive end Cornelius Washington were inactive Sunday.

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