"We don't do things to try to spoil something for someone else. We're trying to play our best football that we possibly can, period, and have a good taste in our mouth about our play. It's just about us," said Chicago head coach Lovie Smith. "There is no other agenda for what we want to do except to try to play the best football that we're capable of playing."
Smith must be using that line of thinking not only with the media, but with his players as well. Witness nearly identical comments from Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris.
"It's really about the Bears right now. The Vikings can get into the playoffs and it doesn't look that good for us, so right now we are just trying to finish hard and finish positive," Harris said. "There are a lot of things that I feel like we have to prove to ourselves. That is the biggest thing for us right now. I don't feel like we are going in to try to ruin somebody else's season, but we just have a lot to prove to ourselves. It would be good to finish on a good note and win the rest of these games."
The Vikings won the last meeting between these two teams earlier this year, but the Bears won each of the contests in 2006, when Chicago went 13-3 and advanced to the NFC Championship game.
If the Bears are going to pull off the upset on Monday night, they will have to do it with quarterback Kyle Orton, who hasn't started since the end of the 2005 season but was named the starter for this game earlier this week.
"He gives us the best chance to win, period. Just that," Smith said. "We lost our starter in Rex Grossman in the (Washington) game, but Kyle Orton has played a lot of good football for us around here. I'm anxious to see what he can do. … It's pretty black and white for us. He gives us the best chance to win, no more, no less than that."
Ironically, Orton's last start was against the Vikings on Jan. 1, 2006, when the Bears already had the division title wrapped up and Minnesota won 34-10 and then fired head coach Mike Tice minutes later. Current head coach Brad Childress is 1-2 against the Bears after the Vikings' win earlier this season.
But the Vikings aren't taking Orton, who was 10-5 as a starter in 2005, lightly.
"I don't think our defense will allow themselves to kind of lick their chops on Kyle Orton. I think he had a pretty good record his rookie year as a starter, maybe 10-5 or something like that," Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said. "He had his team in playoff contention or maybe in the playoffs when he was the starter. He is in the NFL so he is very capable of making plays. I watched him in college and he made big plays in college so I think the defense is just looking at it like it is a starting quarterback. He is starting the game and we're just going out there and just trying to win a game and make plays."
RETURN TO RUNNING?
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson started his surge into national prominence with a 224-yard rushing day against the Bears on Oct. 14.
"I remember leading up to the game I was really detailing everything we practiced and really being sharp and really just seeing the same thing unfold on Sunday," Peterson said. "They have got a fast defense. Sometimes it hurts you and sometimes it can really cause some problems. Just that day with the offensive line and the receivers blocking the way they did, we were able to take advantage."
Since then, Peterson had been leading the league in rushing up until the San Francisco 49ers limited him to 3 yards rushing on 14 carries last Sunday. He said he's never had a game like that at any level of football.
"Never. That had to be one of the worst games, but I learned a lot from that game. I took a lot away from it," he said before being asked what he learned. "Just looking at the tape, just a lot of different things I could have done different as far as footwork and little things like that that I could have corrected which would have changed the outcome on a couple plays. So just really thinking like that and just really being consistent."
Since then, Peterson has also suffered a torn lateral collateral ligament, sat out two games and has been wearing a brace. On Monday night against the Bears, he will wearing a smaller brace rather than the one that weight about three pounds, he told Scout.com's Adam Caplan on Sirius NFL Radio.