MINNEAPOLIS - The Bears' performance on special teams was one of the few bright spots in Sunday's disappointing 38-17 loss to the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium.
Slumping kicker Robbie Gould made his only field-goal attempt from 51 yards, while the kickoff and kick return teams both produced impact plays to create scoring opportunities.
Deonte Thompson returned the opening kickoff 49 yards to the 50. But the offense was unable to take advantage of the field position. A holding penalty on center Hroniss Grasu nullified Kyle Long's 35-yard run to the 15 before a sack led to a three-and-out and a punt.
Trailing 17-7, Sherrick McManis recovered Gould's surprise onside kick at the Bears' 47 to start the second half. But the offense again squandered the opportunity as defensive end Brian Robison got the ball back for the Vikings with a strip/sack of Jay Cutler.
"I thought our special teams all-in-all did well," said coach John Fox. "Robbie Gould had a 51-yarder and I thought that was a plus, and obviously the execution of that surprise onside kick in the third quarter ... There were bright spots, but not enough of them."
It was the first time the Bears have recovered an onside kick by Gould during his 11 seasons with the team. Dante Rosario recovered one by Jay Feely late last season when Gould was injured.
Gould's 51-yard field goal drew the Bears to within 24-10 late in the third quarter. It came after he had missed three straight and six of 15 attempts since making his first 17 tries this season. Gould is now 22-of-30 from 50 yards and beyond in his career, a 73.3 success rate that is the fifth best in NFL history from that distance.
Alshon scores: Receiver Alshon Jeffery caught just one of five passes that were thrown in his direction Sunday, but he made the most of it, scoring a 10-yard touchdown in the middle of the end zone on a nifty throw by Cutler.
"You've just got to make an adjustment," Jeffery said. "Wherever he throws, you've just got to make the catch. It was a great back-shoulder throw."
Jeffery missed part of the second half with a hamstring injury but returned to finish the game. Asked if his absence was deflating, Cutler said: "It's not inflating. We've had him in and out kind of all year, so I don't want to say it's anything new to us. But the guys are prepared for it. The receivers on the outside, they know their roles whenever he goes down and I thought they came in and fought hard."
Select company: Outside linebacker Willie Young became the third Bears player to record a sack in five straight games Sunday, joining Brian Urlacher and Steve McMichael.
Young registered the Bears' only sack of the day when he dropped Teddy Bridgewater for a 10-yard loss on the first play of the second quarter. Young now has 5.5 sacks in his last five games and leads the Bears with 6.5 sacks on the season.
Man in the middle: Making his first NFL start in place of Christian Jones at inside linebacker, John Timu recorded a team-high nine tackles and one tackle-for-loss.
Asked about his performance, Timu said: "We didn't get the win, so it doesn't really matter." He added that he was pleased to get the opportunity to play, however, saying: "It's all about everything that I have done to get to this point.
An undrafted rookie from Washington, Timu appeared in the first four games of the season on special teams and spent 10 weeks on the practice squad before being re-signed to the active roster in advance of Sunday's game.
"All of the hard work day in and day out up to this point gave me my opportunities today," Timu said. "When you get your opportunity like I did today, you just have to make the most of it. We didn't get the win and tomorrow is another opportunity for me to get better."
News and notes: Sunday's 21-point loss was the Bears' most lopsided since a 26-0 Week 3 defeat in Seattle. Since that point their five defeats had come by a total of 17 points. ... The Bears failed to generate a takeaway for the sixth time this season and have just one in their last three games, all losses. ... The Bears have been outscored 34-6 in the first quarter in their last five contests.