Back to Business

Lake Forest - While all the focus of late has been on the quarterback, running the ball will be the key to success against the Vikings.

The lack of a passing game has meant that the line of scrimmage has been consistently stacked with eight and sometimes nine men. As a result, the running game has averaged 76.3 yards over the past three games.

The Bears have not used Thomas Jones and Anthony Thomas in the same backfield all season. In fact, since Jones' return two games ago Thomas has received three carries for zero yards after rushing for 280 in the previous three games.

Minnesota continues to be the worst team in the league against the run. Fred Taylor became the fifth back in the last five weeks to rush for more than 100 yards against the Vikings. He had 147 on 22 carries (6.7), including a 31-yarder. The Vikings went into the game giving up an NFL-worst 4.9 yards per carry. The Jaguars averaged 5.7 on 27 carries.

Jones has 616 yards on the season and is just 11 shy of passing his career-best of 627 set a year ago.

With Chad Hutchinson having just four practices to get snaps with the first team offense and the snow beginning to fall in Chicago, running the ball 40-plus times would be optimal.

It would also keep Minnesota's offense off the field. The unit has averaged 26.4 points per game.

WR Randy Moss played in 54 of the Vikings' 61 offensive snaps but clearly favored the strained right hamstring that had sidelined him the last three games and for all but 11 snaps the last five weeks. Moss, however, was his old self on a 2-yard touchdown grab in double coverage in the back of the end zone. "We call it the 'R Zone' -- Red Zone, Randy Zone," said receiver Kelly Campbell. "Once we're in that red zone, that's when Randy really takes it to another level." Moss caught four passes for 40 yards. He said his hamstring was OK but noted that his back was sore after the game. The back injury isn't expected to be serious.

--DE Kenechi Udeze didn't know who had returned the fumble 77 yards for a touchdown after he stripped Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich of the ball on a sack with 2:18 left in the game. So he asked teammate Kevin Williams after the play was over. "I did," said the 311-pound Williams. Udeze believed him. "He was pretty much exhausted," Udeze said. "Drool was coming out of his mouth." Williams denied it. "Oh, I wasn't that bad," he said. "But I might have been about to pass out."

--WR Kelly Campbell caught a 48-yard pass from Daunte Culpepper during the second quarter Sunday. The play set up a tying touchdown. Jaguars CB Dewayne Washington, a former Viking, was trying to cover Campbell one on one. Asked to describe the play, Campbell said, "I burned his butt," Campbell said. "That's what happened."

--RG Dave Dixon, who missed the entire second half of Sunday's game because of a sprained right knee, had an MRI performed Monday. His injury isn't expected to be serious.

--QB Daunte Culpepper has 3,180 yards passing in 11 games this season. That tied Warren Moon's 1994 team record for fewest games to reach 3,000 yards passing. Culpepper's 28 touchdown passes also breaks the 11-game mark of 23 that he set in 2000.

--WR Ben Nelson was waived to make room for C Billy Conaty on the 53-man roster. Conaty was signed as a backup to Cory Withrow, who is now the starter because Matt Birk had hernia surgery Friday. It's Birk's second hernia surgery in three months. Nelson was re-signed to the practice squad.

--RB Michael Bennett lost his starting job, had no carries and touched the ball only once in two plays on Sunday. He had one catch for 5 yards.

--CB Brian Williams had one of his best games of the season against Jacksonville with a game-high seven solo tackles and eight total. He forced a fumble in the red zone that teammate Dontarrious Thomas recovered.

Bear Report Top Stories