Responding to an 'insult'

Tribune staff reporter

Randy Moss, whose attitude perpetually seems to be in question, registered a complaint about the Bears' demeanor after Sunday's 25-7 Vikings victory at the Metrodome.

Moss, who had been held in check in the first meeting between the teams, caught a game-high nine passes for 119 yards and one touchdown Sunday.

"All week we looked at film and the comments [the Bears] had made after the [first] game, that they had played pitch-and-catch with our defense," Moss said. "We took that to heart because that was an insult, not just to the defensive backs but to the team as a whole. We just had to make something happen to let them know that in this division we're hard to defend."

The Vikings, who entered Sunday's game with a 1-5 record, played with more passion and energy than the Bears, who are on a five-game losing streak.

"To tell you the truth, I feel like we should have won every game we played in," said Vikings linebacker Greg Biekert, who registered an interception and a fumble recovery. " In the first Chicago game (won 27-23 by the Bears) we definitely felt we played well enough to win. And guys wanted to come out today and make it happen."

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper, plagued by 16 turnovers this season, completed 22-of-29 passes for 216 yards against the injury-depleted and demoralized Bears defense. He also ran for 31 yards on eight carries.

"We were just more patient," Culpepper said. "We took what they gave us and didn't try to force the ball down the field when it wasn't there."

Vikings coach Mike Tice said he tried to make Culpepper keep a smile on his face throughout the game. The Bears' porous defense helped.

"He just wanted me to smile, but I'm the type of guy who wants to be focused and smile afterward," Culpepper said. "Until then I'm going to try to make plays."

When Culpepper wasn't having his way running or passing the ball, Michael Bennett was on his way to rushing for 106 yards on 29 carries (3.7-yard average). Bennett also caught six passes for 30 yards. Bears Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher was credited with a team-high 12 tackles, but Culpepper was never sacked by the sad-sack defense.

"We just gave him Matt Birk," said Moss of the Vikings' stellar center. "We have an All-Pro too."

Said Culpepper: "We wanted to run the ball right at (Urlacher). We knew that they had some key injuries up front on the defensive line. They're still a great defensive football team, but we just took advantage of what they gave us."

For the first time in 36 games, the Vikings allowed an opponent less than double-digit points.

"We tried to do a little less blitzing today," Tice said. "The guys, especially up front, rose to the challenge. Especially (defensive tackle) Chris Hovan, who got the game ball. Our defensive team set the tempo for most of the day."

Moss, who has 49 receptions this season, averaged 13.2 yards a catch Sunday. He entered the game averaging a career-low 10.1 yards per catch. Moss averaged at least 15.0 yards per catch in his previous four seasons.

"I don't think they covered me like the first game," he said. "But we weren't making plays in the first game."

Sunday's loss dropped the Bears into a tie for last place in the NFC North with the Vikings and Lions.

"We're still a 2-5 football team, which (stinks)," said Tice.

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