Notebook: Vikes Expect More Balanced Bears

The Vikings think that Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith will provide a more balanced offensive attack than Minnesota has seen in recent weeks. Plus, get other notes and quotes from the locker room.

After the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals combined for 19 rushing attempts against the Vikings in the last two weeks, Minnesota's defenders are expecting a bit more effort out of the Chicago Bears' rushing attack.

The Vikings held Miami to 4 yards rushing, a franchise low for Minnesota's defense and the Dolphins offense. But the low-water mark came Sunday, when the Cardinals only attempted six rushes.

"I've never seen it," said cornerback Antoine Winfield. "It seems like everyone is taking New England's game plan. … But I'm not sure if Chicago will do it. We're kind of familiar with Lovie Smith and I think he'll try to run the ball on us."

The Bears did try to run the ball against the Vikings' defensive front 21 times in the first meeting between these two teams – a 19-16 win for Chicago – but they managed only 51 yards and three first downs on the ground.

But even middle linebacker Napoleon Harris, who says a cast on his left wrist hinders him from grabbing, believes the Bears will still try to run the ball.

"I think they're going to try to run. Why wouldn't they? The have two good running backs and a solid offensive line," Harris said.

Head coach Brad Childress says he believes Bears coach Lovie Smith would like a balanced attack, but Childress also is expecting Chicago to mimic what has become popular against the Vikings ever since the New England Patriots pounded them 31-7 on Oct. 30 – using multiple receivers to spread out the defense.

"I know Lovie (Smith). From his perspective, he'd like to be able to run the football, but he knows you can't run it all the time," Childress said. "You have to be able to move it through the air as well. They are typically a more balanced football team. Do I expect to see any empty sets or (Rex) Grossman in shotgun? Yeah, I'd be lying to myself if I didn't."

While the Vikings easily have the No. 1 run defense in the league – thanks in part to four games in which teams have attempted 15 or fewer rushes – they pass defense dropped to 31st in the league on the heels of giving up 405 yards passing on 51 attempts to Matt Leinart on Sunday.

While the spread in possessing the top rush defense and next-to-last pass defense is incredible, it's certainly not unbelievable for cornerback Antoine Winfield.

"I believe it. Like I said, if the quarterback is dropping back 40 or 50 times a game, in this league you're going to put up some yards," Winfield said.

Defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin said he isn't concerned with yardage statistics. He prefers to focus on wins and points given up – the defense gave up only one touchdown with 39 seconds remaining against the Cardinals.

But giving up 390 yards or more three times in the last five games can be concerning.

"A little bit. Considering he threw the ball 50 times, 400 yards, it's still a lot," Winfield said. "They had five or six rushing attempts, but we have to eliminate the big plays – the touchdowns. It's kind of a bend but don't break."


Winfield said that players around the league don't focus on ratings, only wins, and getting one against Chicago would certainly help the Vikings' playoff chances. But, according to Winfield, the Vikings have long since gotten over the way they gave away their first game against the Bears.

"That was like two months ago. You can't look at that game. They're a different team. It's going to be a good game. It's going to be tough," Winfield said.

In that Oct. 30 loss to the Bears, the Vikings had a 6-3 halftime lead and regained the lead, 13-9 on the first play of the fourth quarter when Winfield returned an interception for a touchdown.

Midway through the fourth quarter, they extended their lead to 16-12 with a Ryan Longwell field goal. But, with less than four minutes left and the ball on their own 43-yard line, running back Chester Taylor and quarterback Brad Johnson didn't fully connect on a handoff and the Bears' Tommie Harris recovered.

Five plays later, Rashied Davis scored on a 24-yard pass from Rex Grossman and the Bears had a 19-16 lead with 1:53 to play, a score that held up.

"Bottom line, we can't worry about the last time we played them because that was how many weeks ago?" tight end Jermaine Wiggins said. "What we did against them, we played them tough, we had an opportunity to win but we didn't win. Every week is different."


Despite not starting a game this season until Sunday against Arizona and enduring a 5-6 record to this point, tackle Mike Rosenthal tends to accentuate the positive.

So, what has the season been like for Rosenthal?

"It's been a lot of fun. I got to reunite with (guard Jason) Whittle. I've known (guard Steve Hutchinson) a long time. We've got a good group," Rosenthal said. "It's fun being a part of something where everyone shows up with a winning attitude, wanting to work hard and get a win. All you can do is get into December with a chance to get into the playoffs and that's what we've got."

Rosenthal was one of the veteran Vikings considered on the roster bubble when the preseason cuts were being considered, and the team did end up releasing guards Adam Goldberg and Chris Liwienski, who, like Rosenthal, were contributing linemen for a number of years.

Goldberg ended up getting signed by the St. Louis Rams and has been starting, and Liwienski was a starter in Arizona earlier this year.

"I think we all had confidence that we could play in the NFL, if it wasn't here it was (for) somebody," Rosenthal said. "They always tell you that the NFL is in need of good linemen and there aren't enough out there to fill rosters. You always hope somebody will appreciate your talent and those guys were fortunate that they hooked up, and I was fortunate to stay here."


Brad Johnson is one of three quarterbacks in the running for the FedEx Player of the week. Joining him are Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

Johnson completed 27 of 41 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns against Arizona on Sunday, good for his season -high passer rating of 108.9.

Fan voting on is open until 5 p.m. Central on Thursday.


  • Former Vikings running back Michael Bennett, now with Kansas City, had the Chiefs' second-longest rushing play of the season Sunday night against the Broncos. He broke a 41-yard run in the fourth quarter to set up Kansas City's final score. Bennett, whose career-long is 85, had a previous season high of 20 yards.

  • The Rams released former Vikings offensive lineman Adam Haayer.

  • Viking Update Top Stories