Flaws found, but Bears will take the victory

The 2002 season started off the complete opposite most would have expected from the Bears. Although, the defense forced three turnovers in the second half it was Chicago's offense that saved the team from defeat.

The Bears started off the 2002 season much like how the majority of the 2001 campaign went for the team.

Trailing 23-20 with less than three minutes to go Mike Brown, who missed all of training camp with a broken hand, intercepted a Daunte Culpepper pass and returned it to midfield.

"The guy's a warrior," said Jim Miller. "He came in and had two IVs. He came back out there and made a game breaking play. He got that turnover for us when it was desperately needed. The guy is just unbelievable."

David Terrell sealed the Vikings fait with a nine-yard touchdown catch with just 28 seconds left in the game.

"Initially he was covered I went to my second receiver and he was covered too came back to David (he was) wide open he jumped up and made a play," said Miller of Terrell's game winning catch.

Miller completed passes to four different receivers in route on the winning drive.

Leading 27-23 the Bears held off a last second effort by the Vikings to win the game. Roosevelt Colvin sacked Culpepper forcing a fumble that LB Bryan Knight recovered ending chances for a Minnesota comeback.

"I really thought the Vikings played an outstanding football game," said Bears head coach Dick Jauron. "We knew they were talented, we knew they were awfully good, and we knew they would play well. We didn't play particularly well early, but I was proud of our football team in the second half, particularly guys that had to step up to play. This is a great way to start a season."

D'Wayne Bates didn't take long to hurt his old team. On the Vikings second possession the receiver sprinted pass Mike Green and caught a 46-yard pass from Daunte Culpepper giving the Vikings first and goal from the nine-yard line. Minnesota had to settle for a field goal due in part to Brian Urlacher bringing RB Michael Bennett down two yards behind the line of scrimmage. A seven-play drive was capped by a Doug Brien 30-yard field goal, which put Minnesota ahead 3-0 with 6:15 left in the first quarter.

Marty Booker made an acrobatic catch off a deflection by Vikings cornerback Eric Kelly for a 31-yard catch, which moved Chicago into Minnesota territory for the first time. The reception was a sign of things to come for the receiver as he finished the day with eight catches for 198 yards.

Although, the drive didn't result in points the gain setup the field position game in the Bears favor. Larry Whigham downed a 43-yard punt by Brad Maynard at the Vikings three-yard line.

The Bears held the Vikings to a three and out forcing a punt. Leon Johnson returned the 50-yard kick by Kyle Richardson 19 yards, which gave Chicago the ball at the Vikings 29.

On third and ten Jim Miller stepped away from pressure in the pocket and delivered a 29-yard touchdown pass to Booker. The score put Chicago in the lead at 7-3, but the score would quickly change back in the Vikings favor.

On the ensuing drive Culpepper found Byron Chamberlain wide open in the middle of the field. The tight end caught the ball around midfield and ran toward the endzone. Mike Brown saved a touchdown for the moment tackling Chamberlain at the one-yard line. Following a Culpepper incompletion the Bears looked to have made the Vikings settle for a field goal, but Bryan Robinson was called offside on third goal giving the visitors another play. Culpepper lined up in a shotgun formation and ran the ball in from two yards out putting Minnesota back in front 10-7 early in the second quarter.

The Bears answered the Vikings score with a nine-play drive that resulted in three points. The key play on the possession was a 26-yard catch by Booker, who was drilled on the play by Willie Offord. The safety was flagged for a personal foul because he led with his helmet. The 15-yard penalty made the play a 41-yard gain and brought Chicago to the Minnesota 35. A 49-yard field goal by Paul Edinger tied the game at ten.

The Vikings offense continued to move the ball against the Bears defense, which allowed 364 total yards in the game. Gains of 11, 10, 20, 13 moved Minnesota into field goal range. Brien connected from 22 yards out reclaiming the lead for the Vikings at 13-10.

Chicago was on the move again, but a drop by Booker on third and two ended the Bears drive. The Bears defense finally stopped the Vikings offense and forced a punt. Chicago took possession of the ball on their 44 with 1:07 left in the half.

With good field position the Bears were in position to get at least a field goal. However, on the first play of the drive Miller fumbled a shotgun snap from Olin Kreutz and DE Talance Sawyer recovered the bouncing ball all the way back at the Bears 33.

Minnesota capitalized on the turnover immediately. Following the turnover Culpepper went to Moss for a 33-yard strike that extended the Vikings lead to 20-10 with 55 seconds left on the clock.

With two timeouts left the Bears attempted to put some points on the board, but a Miller pass into double coverage ended resulted in an Offord interception.

Chicago's offense came out of the lockerroom with a balanced drive. Miller completed passes of 9 and 20 yards to Dez White. Then Leon Johnson broke a seven-yard run. Anthony Thomas followed with an 11-yard gain. A sack of Miller by Chris Hovan brought Edinger on for a 49-yard field goal, which cut the lead to 20-13.

Reggie Austin, who came in when R.W. McQuarters injured his left knee, was able to turn away the Vikings offense with his first career interception.

The Bears took over at their 2-yard line and moved the ball steadily downfield. Receptions on back-to-back plays by Dez White and Booker of 15 and 24 yards respectively moved Chicago into Viking territory. However, Edinger could not hit his third field goal of the day missing a 43-yard attempt with 13:31 left in the game.

The Bears looked to be in serious jeopardy of losing the game when Minnesota tacked on three more points on a 42-yard field goal by Brien with just over nine minutes to go in the game. The Vikings moved the ball on the ground gaining 39 yards on the drive via the running game and totaled 136 for the day.

Miller to Booker continued to be the Bears offense. As the duo hooked up on a 54-yard pass on the first play of the ensuing drive. From there the Bears turned to Thomas on the next four plays. He caught a five-yard pass then had runs of 11, 7 and a one-yard touchdown.

"In the first half I think we tried to run outside more on them," said Thomas, who had just 45 yards on 19 carries. "The second half we just came right at them and wore them down. That's what we like to do is wear them down by pounding the same plays at them so when it comes down to the end of the game we are in control."

An Edinger PAT moved the Bears within 23-20 with 6:13 to go.

Minnesota tried to run out the click with the ground game, but was forced to throw the ball on 3rd and 13 following a false start penalty. That's where Brown stepped in and picked off Culpepper. He returned the ball 16 yards giving the offense the ball at midfield.

The Bears offense took with 2:34 left in the game. The unit moved the ball patiently down the field, as they didn't want to score too quickly because that would give Minnesota another shot. The team converted two third downs to keep the clock moving. A 10-yard catch by TE John Davis gave the Bears first and goal from the nine. Miller took the Bears final timeout with 35 seconds on the clock.

Coming out of the break Miller scrambled around and found David Terrell open in the endzone. The receiver made a leaping catch with just 28 seconds remaining giving the Bears a 27-23 victory.

"The thing about this team is we fight for 60 minutes no matter what the score is, if you beat us you're going to have to work hard to beat us, you're going to have to play all 60 minutes, no matter what. That's our motto, that's what we do, we play all 60 minutes and try and come up with big plays at the end of the game to try to win," said Brown of the team's attitude about coming from behind.

Bear Report Top Stories