Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune reporter">

Bears even it out



had hoped to find out what kind of team they were a week ago in Detroit.

The discovery wasn't one they enjoyed. Given another chance — there aren't many remaining with the hole the team has dug itself in the

NFC North

— the Bears found a way to rally against a different division foe.

The offensive line clicked with its fifth starting combination in six games, the safeties didn't surrender long touchdowns that have plagued the defense and

Matt Forte

was steady. It added up to a snappy 39-10 victory over the


on Sunday night at

Soldier Field

, highlighted by a proficient game from

Jay Cutler

and a return touchdown by

Devin Hester


It's premature to suggest serious problems hanging over the Bears have been resolved. They had lost three of their previous four games and appear destined for a crowded wild-card hunt if all goes well. They've pulled to 3-3 and have a chance to move a game above .500 on Sunday in London, where they face the


at Wembley Stadium before the schedule brings an open date. As coach

Lovie Smith

has pointed out, that's the same record the team had a year ago at the off week, using it as a springboard to a dominant second half.

But how much stock can you put in a victory over a downtrodden 1-5 Vikings team that can't be far off from the beginning of the

Christian Ponder

era? The best sign was that the offensive line steadied itself a week after struggling at Ford Field. Cutler had time to throw, and it opened everything up. The Vikings were intent on stopping Forte, and Cutler benefited, completing 21 of 31 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns. Forte carried 17 times for 87 yards.

Lance Louis

made his first career start at right tackle. He did well, and

J'Marcus Webb

was stout against

Jared Allen

, who entered the weekend with an


-high 8½ sacks. Allen had one sack and strip, but the turnover early in the third quarter came after Cutler should have gotten rid of the ball.

"We managed them," Cutler said of the line. "A lot of five-step (drops) and play action, left some extra guys in, shift a little bit. Whenever we help them out like that and get the ball out of my hands, it's going to be easy on me. It's not that difficult. Our game plan was really solid, and we need to be very judicious going forward with what we can and can't do."

The Vikings capitalized with a 4-yard

Adrian Peterson

touchdown run after the turnover to pull within 26-10, but Hester raced through a small hole on the right side to go 98 yards for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff, the 16th return touchdown of his career. The rout was on. Hester left the game at the start of the fourth quarter with a chest injury. Early indications are it isn't serious.

Cutler struck early with a 48-yard touchdown pass to Hester — his first of the season to a wide receiver other than

Dane Sanzenbacher

. The pass rush that produced five sacks picked up a safety, and

Marion Barber

had a 3-yard touchdown to put the Bears ahead 16-0 just over 12 minutes in. Later, Sanzenbacher had a 13-yard touchdown catch, his third of the season, and

Robbie Gould

connected on three field goals.

The defense, which has struggled more than the offense at times, had its finest effort with

Julius Peppers

going from doubtful to dominating with two sacks. Veteran safeties

Chris Harris


Brandon Meriweather

were benched and replacements

Major Wright


Chris Conte

didn't have any glaring errors, but this was against a McNabb who has had far better days at Soldier Field. He was replaced in the fourth quarter.

The key for the Bears going forward is getting time for Cutler to throw. He was more at ease in the pocket and had time to hit

Johnny Knox


Roy Williams

and Hester downfield on deeper routes. All of it was available because the Vikings were dialed in on Forte.

"They whupped us on every facet of the game," Allen said.

Whether it's a starting point for the Bears remains to be seen. For a night, at least, they looked good in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and that's where so many of their issues have been rooted.

Twitter @BradBiggs