Bears reluctantly recall A.D.'s big day

Different Bears defenders had various reactions when asked to recall the first 200-yard rushing day of Adrian Peterson's rookie year. Most wished to forget it.

It was almost exactly a year ago when, as a rookie, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson played his first game at Soldier Field. It was pretty memorable - for him.

For the Bears, it was something they'd like to forget. Peterson rushed for 224 yards, more than any player has ever gained on the ground against a Bears team.

The Bears are doing their best to forget about that day, while at the same time ensuring that it doesn't happen again Sunday at Soldier Field. Both the Bears and Vikings are 3-3 and tied atop the NFC North with the Packers.

"That's dead and gone," Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije said of that 34-31 Vikings victory in which Peterson scored on runs of 73, 67 and 35 yards. "This is a new Sunday, a new game. That's what we're focused on and playing our defense, this year, and making plays and stopping them, this year."

Bears defenders don't have to replay last year's horror film to know how important it is to prevent a repeat performance by Peterson.

"That's something I really don't even want to watch," cornerback Corey Graham said. "He had a big game, (but) we're just going to move forward and look at what they're doing this year and just try to attack them and do what we do."

A lot has changed since last year. Deep-threat wide receiver Bernard Berrian now plays for the Vikings instead of the Bears. And reliable veteran Gus Frerotte has replaced ineffective, young Tarvaris Jackson as Minnesota's quarterback.

But stopping Peterson is still the focus of the Bears' defense.
"His ability is not a fluke," Idonije said. "He has a lot of ability and a great support system. They play well together."

Peterson's ability has been obvious for a long, long time. Bears nose tackle Dusty Dvoracek left Oklahoma a year ahead of A.P., but it didn't take long for him and everyone else to recognize that Peterson was something special.

"The first day he stepped on the Oklahoma campus he was the best player we had, which is a big statement for a team that went to the national championship," Dvoracek said. "He's a fast, strong, smart football player. He makes unbelievable runs. You're just like, ‘Wow.' So it's definitely a big challenge."

Three weeks after bum-rushing the Bears, Peterson set the NFL single-game rushing record with 296 yards against the Chargers in his eighth game as a pro. He rushed for 1,341 yards last season, even though he missed two games, and he averaged 5.6 yards per carry, despite being stalked by opposing defenses after his amazing early-season performances.

Peterson hasn't been quite as spectacular this year, but he's averaging 4.4 yards per attempt and is third in the NFL with 563 rushing yards, on pace for a 1,501-yard season.

The Bears' defense committed to stopping Falcons running back Michael Turner last week and did so, but it came at the expense of getting gouged for 301 passing yards by rookie quarterback Matt Ryan. They will nevertheless have the same mindset this week.

"That's always the game plan going in," Dvoracek said. "You want to stop the run. We want to stop Adrian and have their passing game try to beat us."

Last week the Falcons' passing game did beat the Bears, so they know they must improve this week.

"A big part of that is us getting pressure on the quarterback," Dvoracek said. "We didn't do that last week. It's going to definitely be a main focus, getting off blocks and getting to the quarterback, making him make mistakes."

But that comes only after they've accounted for Peterson. In last year's rematch at the Metrodome, the Bears limited him to 78 yards on 20 carries, although he scored two more touchdowns, and the Vikings won again, 20-13.

"We remember what happened here," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "It was a coming out party for him here; he had a great game. We played them better the second time around and we're anxious to play him the third time."

SERIES HISTORY: 94th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead 50-41-2, but the Bears won the only postseason matchup 35-18 after the 1994 season. The Vikings swept the series last year, winning 34-31 at Soldier Field and 20-13 at the Metrodome.

NOTES

  • CB Charles Tillman (shoulder) did not practice and appears to be a long shot to play in Sunday's game.

  • S Daniel Manning (hamstring), who has been playing nickel corner, did not practice Wednesday and is unlikely to play on Sunday.

  • RB Matt Forte did not practice Wednesday, and the official reason given was "rest." However, Forte injured his left thumb in last week's game and wore a splint on it Monday.

  • WR/RS Devin Hester's 5.4-yard average on punt returns, is just over one-third of his 15.5-yard average last season.

  • WR Brandon Lloyd (sprained knee) did not practice on Wednesday and is doubtful for Sunday. He hasn't practiced since being injured in Week Four.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 224 — Rushing yards by Adrian Peterson in last year's Bears-Vikings game at Soldier Field, the most ever by a Bears opponent.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "He was skinny. No, I saw a lot of potential in the little bit I did see of him." — WR Marty Booker when asked what he remembered about Bernard Berrian, even though their time together was only a training camp and preseason.



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