Ratliff is a positive for Bears’ diminished defense
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter December 1, 2013 8:22PM
Updated: January 31, 2014 3:25AM
MINNEAPOLIS — It was only one game for defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff — and he was limited to a snap count — but the Bears’ defense left encouraged with what the four-time Pro Bowl player added.
“He’s definitely going to be able to help us out,” defensive end Corey Wootton said after the Bears’ 23-20 overtime loss to the Vikings.
Ratliff, a former standout for the Cowboys, took the field during the Bears’ second defensive series, playing for the first time in over a year after undergoing groin surgery in December 2012.
“It felt good to be back,” said Ratliff, who signed with the Bears on Nov. 2. “We did a little pregame count, which I think was pretty wise to do. There’s nothing else to do from here but keep moving forward and get better incrementally.”
Ratliff’s addition and the return of defensive tackle Stephen Paea (turf toe) meant Wootton could move back to his natural position, defensive end.
The Bears’ line came up with 31/2 sacks (21/2 from Julius Peppers) and four pass breakups (two by Wootton). Ratliff had a tackle and drew a holding penalty on guard Brandon Fusco.
“I think he did well in the limited amount of reps that he was in,” Peppers said. “But it was about only 18 or 20 plays and again I don’t want to give an evaluation [about the defense] without seeing the film.”
Matt on the rise
Running back Matt Forte totaled 151 yards — a performance that moved him into second in team history for yards from scrimmage with 9,068, surpassing Neal Anderson (8,929), but still well behind Walter Payton (21,264).
“Great blocking up front,” Forte said.
Forte’s 41-yard run against the Vikings also gave him four rushes of 40 or more yards this season, the most in the NFL. The Vikings’ Adrian Peterson has three.
In overtime, left tackle Jermon Bushrod allowed a sack that forced a Josh McCown fumble. Bushrod recovered, but was assessed a penalty for throwing the ball downfield.
‘‘That was frustration,’’ Bushrod said. ‘‘You play hard all game and then you let something that you don’t want to happen happen, and then I got frustrated after I hopped on the ball and I just kind of tossed it. I don’t know. I think they overreacted. Whatever. It is what it is.’’
When Matt Cassel fumbled a snap and the Vikings recovered, it was the ninth consecutive fumble the Bears have not recovered.
◆ Cornerback Zack Bowman endured a scary, neck-bending collision with safety Chris Conte in the second quarter, but he said he only got the wind knocked out of him.
Contributing: Mark Potash,