MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler left Sunday's game at Minnesota in the fourth quarter with a neck injury.
Cutler took a hit to the head by Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen that drew a penalty, but he said afterward his neck was bothering him all afternoon and worsened as the game went on, complaining of stiffness. Cutler stayed in for the rest of that drive, but when the Bears got the ball back Jason Campbell was running the offense instead.
Cutler, who missed a game last month because of a concussion, got up slowly after Griffen's hit and had his hands on his knees for several seconds before composing himself for the next play.
"I thought he fought 'til the end," coach Lovie Smith said.
The Bears were already missing three defensive starters: nose tackle Stephen Paea, linebacker Brian Urlacher and cornerback Tim Jennings, plus wide receiver Earl Bennett. Their health situation worsened during the game.
Kicker Robbie Gould strained his left calf in warm-ups, limiting his ability to take long kicks. He was kicking midrange field goals without trouble shortly before the game started, but punter Adam Podlesh handled the kickoffs. The Bears reached the Vikings 35-yard line late in the first quarter, and Podlesh came out to punt. Gould made the extra point after both of Chicago's touchdowns and tried the onside kick near the end of the game.
"It is of some concern," Smith said.
Defensive tackle Henry Melton limped off in the first quarter and was taken to the locker room on a cart. He returned in the second quarter but then hurt his shoulder. Three backups were also hurt: defensive end Shea McClellin (knee), safety Craig Steltz (chest) and cornerback Sherrick McManus (knee).
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL