Improved effort doesn't yield victory

MINNEAPOLIS _ The Bears' defense tried to take <!--Default NodeId For Randy Moss is 626391,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:626391]>Randy Moss</A> right out of the <!--Default NodeId For Minnesota Vikings is 113,2003--><A HREF=http://vikings.TheInsiders.com>Minnesota Vikings</A>' attack.

"We were going to make them beat us left-handed with other people," defensive coordinator Greg Blache said.

The Vikings proved to have one tremendous alternative in the person of running back Moe Williams, who had 108 of his team's 202 yards on the ground in a 24-13 Vikings win.

"We tried to take the big play out of it," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. "We did take Randy Moss out of it. He can hurt you quickly."

They held Moss to four catches for 27 yards, but did it by playing what Blache called "seven men in a box" instead of using an eighth man watching for the run. The Bears spent much of the time in a nickel defense or even dime sets with extra defensive backs.

As a result, they gave up one long Minnesota drive after another, allowed 38 minutes and 42 seconds of possession time to their own 21:18 and let the Vikings convert 9-of-14 third-down plays.

Leading 17-13, Minnesota scored the clinching touchdown on Daunte Culpepper's 11-yard TD pass to tight end Jim Kleinsasser with 2:56 to play for the final score. It ended an epic 93-yard, 16-play drive, their second 90-plus yard drive of the game to a Kleinsasser TD catch.

"We just got pushed around," said defensive end Phillip Daniels.

Minnesota converted three third-and-ones on its clinching drive, with Kelly Campbell taking an end around 19 yards to the Bears' 40, Williams going 2 yards to the Bears' 29 and Williams bursting 17 yards up the middle to the 3 with 3:23 left. The TD also came on a third-down play -- third and 11.

In the first half, Minnesota had driven 92 yards to a 3-yard Kleinsasser TD catch.

The Vikings' 202 rushing yards came on 39 carries. Onterrio Smith had 47 yards and Culpepper 17. They finished with 400 yards of offense to the Bears' 208.

"It happened. I can't make up any excuses for it," defensive tackle Keith Traylor said. "It was really embarrassing to give up two 90-plus drives. Any time you do that, hell, odds are you're not going to do two well in the game as far as winning and losing."

Bears quarterback Kordell Stewart rallied his team with scrambles, short passes and one deep one but was injured with 2:25 left to play on a hit following an incomplete pass. Chris Chandler replaced him and was intercepted with 1:49 left by Brian Russell to kill the Bears' last chance.

"He slammed me on my head," Stewart said. "And it hit Aaron Gibson on the leg. It was a stinger down my back. My neck is pretty stiff right now. I'll be fine. It's not anything life-threatening or serious, I don't think."

Stewart finished 13-of-21 for 137 yards.

Dez White's diving catch of a 45-yard play-action bomb put the Bears inside the 15 in the third quarter and set up Paul Edinger's second 42-yard field goal of the game to cut the deficit to 17-13.

The Bears had battled back from a 17-3 deficit to have a chance.

"We don't have to talk about too many positives, but one positive is I saw a team that believed it could go out there and beat somebody tonight," center Olin Kreutz said. "You know, believed they could go out there and win in maybe the toughest place to play in the NFL and against a team that's on the rise and beating some teams now."

Stewart conducted a 60-yard two-minute drill and made the critical yards on the drive himself with a 25-yard scramble on third-and-13, then found David Terrell two plays later in the corner for a 14-yard TD to make it 17-10.

They had trailed 17-3 in the second quarter after Culpepper's fake quarterback draw and 3-yard flip for a touchdown to tight end Jim Kleinsasser.

Minnesota had dominated the first half, outgaining the Bears 265 yards to 119, including 114 rushing yards.

They went to the air their very first play and Culpepper hit Campbell for 51 yards on play-action to set up Williams' 1-yard TD dive.

The Bears answered back their first possession when Anthony Thomas matched his longest run of last season by breaking the Bears' second offensive play for a 34-yard run to the Vikings' 20. It led to Paul Edinger's 42-yard field goal with 10:35 left in the first quarter.

However, the Vikings (2-0) countered with Aaron Eilling's 23-yard field goal after a 33-yard drive that was aided by a face masking penalty against Bears rookie Charles Tillman on a punt return.

Minnesota's early dominance included a 58-yard first-quarter drive to the Bears' 7, but Culpepper got sacked by Alex Brown on first-and-goal and Brown knocked the ball loose. Linebacker Brian Urlacher recovered 13 yards back at the 20.

"The only good news was that we had a chance," Jauron said. "The bad news is once again we lose the football game so we're 0-2 and we've got a long way to go."


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