The Bears overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Vikings 19-16 back in Week 3, getting a 24-yard TD pass from Rex Grossman to Rashied Davis with 1:58 to play to steal the game. Grossman managed to throw for 278 yards on 23-of-41 passing, but he was sacked once and intercepted twice by the Minnesota defense. Nevertheless, the Bears moved their record to 3-0 and catapaulted themselves to a 9-2 start and firm grasp of the NFC North.
The Monsters of the Midway can clinch the division already by defeating the Vikings again on Sunday at Soldier Field.
Safety Darren Sharper may be a three-time Pro-Bowler, but he is currently leading a secondary that ranks 31st in the NFL against the pass. The Minnesota run defense is first overall and surrenders just 56.6 yards per game, but the defensive backs have struggled in coverage. Arizona abandoned the run altogether last Sunday against the Vikings and threw the ball 51 times with rookie quarterback Matt Leinart, while tailback Edgerrin James got just four carries.
Sharper was asked what he sees of Grossman on film and why he has been so erratic at times this season.
"He's been up and down," Sharper said. "He's a guy that has been that way since he has been playing. He is going to throw the ball in some spots and take some chances that a lot of times come back to bite him."
But it was an innocent question about Grossman's lack of consistency that really opened Pandora's Box and shed some light as to what really happened the last time these two teams met.
"You know he is a confident guy," Sharper said, "and we sensed that from how he was running his mouth when he played us that he was very confident, so we'll see how confident he is on Sunday. But he shot off his mouth a little bit, and I think it is easy to say that their team would like to have him be more consistent."
Sharper said that Grossman was chatting it up pretty much from the opening whistle and not just after he hit Davis for the winning score.
"Well, he was running his mouth pretty much the whole game," he remembered, "and kind of especially ran his mouth when he threw that last touchdown pass. He came over and said some things to [Dwight Smith] and a couple of our defensive players. Said something to me, also. So you know he is a cocky guy. He is going to say those things, but just make sure he is not the guy who kills their season for them. So we'll see what happens on Sunday."
Sharper was asked what specifically Grossman said and what might have prompted him to be so verbally abusive that day.
"Well, when he threw that last touchdown pass," he said, "he made some comments, pretty much in-your-face type comments like that. Everyone on our defense remembers what he did and how he was acting. He may have got up in the moment being a young guy and being on an early start. He made a big play for his team to win in a big game, so he decided to be a little brash and talk trash a little bit. There is always another time you face a team, and this is another time for us to face him."
Grossman is known as a confident young man who trusts his big-time arm to make big-time throws, but Sharper seemed shocked at what came out of the QB's mouth.
"Yeah, I've never had a quarterback say the things he said before," he admitted. "And I've been playing 10 years. I've gone against some wild, some cocky, brash quarterbacks. I felt like he stepped over the line a little bit."
Sharper insists there are certain unwritten rules about talking trash, and that's where he takes the most offense from Grossman.
"First of all," he explained, "a quarterback should never talk trash. That's what I think. That's just me because I am a defensive back. I don't want any quarterback talking trash to me. He made the play, and he felt like he could run his mouth. Any time a quarterback opens his mouth, to me, he is overstepping the lines. That's because I'm a defensive back."
Sharper was adament that a quarterback should never be the one shooting his mouth off between the lines, even if he is a more established veteran who has been to the Pro Bowl or wears a Super Bowl ring.
"It doesn't matter who it is," he said. "Especially if it's just him running his mouth and no one running their mouth to him. That's the decision he made, but we have a chance to play each other again and play each other many more times. We'll see who gets the best of who."
So what exactly did Grossman say in the first place?
"It's one of those X-rated things where I can't say it," Sharper said.
We'll find out if there are any more X-rated exchanges this Sunday when the Vikings get their chance to exact some revenge.
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