Problems and all, Vikings still contending

The Vikings' wins haven't always been pretty, but they have won three of their last four and are tied for the NFC North lead.

Vikings fans were calling for coach Brad Childress to be fired during Sunday's game. The team's offense remains inconsistent and Adrian Peterson has lost as many fumbles in six games this year (three) as he lost all of his rookie season.

So things are a mess in Minnesota, right? Try again.

The Vikings will enter Sunday's game against the Bears at Soldier Field with a chance to take the NFC North lead and move one game above .500 entering their bye week.

Fan frustrations aside - the fact the Vikings had to rally for a last-second 12-10 victory over a woeful Detroit team last Sunday did not help matters - Minnesota has won two in a row and three of its past four. Not bad for a club that started 0-2.

This isn't to say the Vikings' victories have been pretty by any means. A quick look at the statistics of the Detroit win will confirm that. But Childress isn't about to quibble with the fact his team won a game.

"That's a good win," Childress said, making it clear he wasn't about to give it back.

A victory on Sunday would put the Vikings at 4-3 and the Bears at 3-4. The Packers, who also enter Sunday tied for the NFC North lead at 3-3, will play host to Indianapolis.

The Vikings are 1-1 at Soldier Field since Childress took over in 2006, winning 34-31 in Chicago last season. Ryan Longwell, who has won the past two games for the Vikings with last-second field goals to beat New Orleans and the Lions, did the same in that instance by connecting on a 55-yarder as time expired.

But the story of that game was Peterson's 224-yard rushing performance. He set a Vikings' single-game mark that he would break three contests later when he rushed for an NFL record 296 yards against the San Diego Chargers.

In order for the Vikings to be successful this time, Peterson is going to need to do a better job with ball security than he did last Sunday. Peterson lost the football twice, including once when the Vikings were deep in Detroit territory.

The Vikings also will continue to try to loosen up things for Peterson with their passing game. Still inconsistent, Minnesota has been getting more big plays of late from the combination of quarterback Gus Frerotte and wide receiver Bernard Berrian.

Berrian signed a big free-agent contract with the Vikings this offseason to leave the Bears, and this will be his first trip back to Solider Field as an opponent.

He had a career-high 71 receptions and 951 yards last year. Despite being bothered by toe and knee injuries in recent weeks, Berrian has put together back-to-back 100-yard receiving games for the Vikings the past two weeks.

Berrian also has two touchdown receptions in the last two games, including an 86-yarder against the Lions.

SERIES HISTORY: 94th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead regular-season series, 50-41-2, and are 21-23-2 against the Bears on the road. The Vikings have won five of the past 10 games against the Bears and 11 of the past 20.

NOTES

  • DT Kevin Williams has been named the Vikings' defensive captain for the season now that MLB E.J. Henderson has been placed on injured reserve because of dislocated toes on his foot that required surgery.

  • FB Thomas Tapeh finds himself in an odd situation. Signed to a five-year, $6 million free-agent contract that included $1.2 million in guarantees, Tapeh hasn't been active for the past four games. On Monday, Brad Childress revealed that Tapeh had an offseason procedure performed on his knee just before signing with the Vikings and did not tell the team. On Wednesday, Childress said the matter with Tapeh was being handled internally but did not explain what that meant. It would not be surprising if Tapeh and the Vikings reached some sort of settlement.

  • LB Erin Henderson was not able to practice Wednesday because of a knee injury.

  • LB David Herron was held out of practice because of a hip injury suffered last Sunday against the Lions.

  • WR Bernard Berrian was limited Wednesday because of a knee problem. He suffered the injury two weeks ago in practice but has had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games and almost certainly will play Sunday in Chicago.

  • TE Jim Kleinsasser was limited in practice Wednesday because of a foot injury that has bothered him for three weeks. Kleinsasser, though, has been able to continue playing.

  • WR Sidney Rice did not play Sunday, missing a game for the third time in four weeks because of a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He was limited in practice Wednesday.

  • CB Benny Sapp was limited in Wednesday's practice because of a hamstring injury. He was able to play last Sunday against the Lions.

  • S Madieu Williams, who hasn't played this season because of a neck injury suffered early in training camp, isn't ready to return but has been cleared and is expected to be back after the Vikings' bye week. That will come up following Sunday's game in Chicago. Williams continues to do limited work in practice.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 9 - Passes of 25-plus yards thrown by quarterback Gus Frerotte since he took over as the Vikings' starter four games ago. That is tied for third in the NFL in that span.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I have 55 other reasons why they know I can get interceptions. So I don't worry about that." - Safety Darren Sharper, making reference to his 55 career picks, when asked if he was concerned what other teams would think when they see he doesn't have an interception after six games when he's in the final year of his contract.


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