Hot Topic: Can the Defense Recover?

The Chicago Bears have been playing professional football since 1920, but never in franchise history have they surrendered more rushing yards to one player than the 224 racked up by Minnesota rookie Adrian Peterson in Sunday's shocking 34-31 loss to the Vikings at Soldier Field.

After a 34-31 loss at home to the Vikings, there's plenty of blame to go around on a defense that considered itself one of the league's best in training camp but is now trying to ward off creeping doubts about its ability. The unit is having to face the realization that maybe it's not nearly as good as advertised.

"We just can't figure out what's going on," defensive end Alex Brown said. "We're not very good right now."

No one's arguing. And if the situation isn't resolved soon, the season, which began with Super Bowl aspirations, will be over.

"If there's a panic button anywhere around, we all need to race to it," Brown said. "We need to start winning right now. If we don't, it's going to be over."

Most of the blame for what was arguably the most disappointing loss in coach Lovie Smith's four years has to go to a defense that allowed rookie Adrian Peterson to rush for 224 yards, more than any individual opponent in the 88-year history of the franchise.

"We stunk," Brown said. "We played horrible. The kid's a good player, but dang, we shouldn't give up that many yards rushing."

As a team, the Vikings outrushed the Bears 311-83 and the defense allowed 444 total yards, the third time in four weeks they've been gouged for more than 430. The league average is 325.


RB Adrian Peterson
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

"We couldn't tackle," Brown said. "He cut back, and he was gone. The kid's fast. Once he broke in the open field, it was over. I know all the coaches and everybody is going to say that we win as a team and we lose as a team. But, as a defense, we lost."

The defense, which was supposed to carry the Bears again this season, was playing without defensive tackle Darwin Walker and cornerback Nathan Vasher. It has already lost defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek and safety Mike Brown for the season, and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tommie Harris was playing at less than 100 percent with a sprained knee.

The bye week can't come soon enough for the Bears, but before that they have to visit Philadelphia to face the Eagles and then play host to the Lions, to whom they've already lost.

Imagine how bad the Bears would be without Devin Hester.

Even with Hester scoring on an 89-yard punt return and an 81-yard reception, the Bears still lost at home to a Vikings team that came in with one win but is now in third place in the NFC North at 2-3, a half-game ahead of the last-place Bears, who slipped to 2-4.

Only once in team history have the Bears started 2-4 and made the playoffs.

"Normally when you play football like that, you lose the game," Smith said. "Four turnovers, zero takeaways. We gave up the big play on the defensive side of the football. For us, we have to stop the run to be able to win. We had missed tackles, and we weren't able to get off the blocks. We haven't played defense that way in a long time."

The 311 rushing yards the Bears allowed was the third-highest yield in team history.

News & Notes
QB Brian Griese threw for 381 yards and three touchdown passes, covering 81, 39 and 33 yards, and had a passer rating of 89.2, but he was also intercepted twice and lost a fumble. … Hester had an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown and caught one pass for an 81-yard touchdown. He has three kick-return touchdowns this season, two on punts and one kickoff. … TE Greg Olsen had his biggest day as a pro for the second straight week with five receptions for 63 yards. … TE Desmond Clark continued on pace for the most productive season of his nine-year career with three catches for 48 yards. … Harris, a Pro Bowl pick in each of the past two seasons, was credited with one tackle in the unofficial postgame stats.


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