No doubt about it, folks, the Bears need a victory this week. In case you've lost count, the losing streak is at four. A loss to the 1-5 Vikings is not what Dr. Morale prescribed.
The Vikings are one of two teams the Bears have beaten this year, so that's a good thing. And remember, Marty Booker set a career high in receiving yards in that first game. Boy, that seems like a long time ago.
On a side note, hopefully the turf toe gods have a little something for Emmitt Smith today. As you know, Smith needs 93 yards to break Walter Payton's career rushing record. I'm just talking a little, nagging injury. OK, before you write in and slam me for wishing an injury on the man, consider this: Is hanging around just to break records anyway to end a great career? We'll have to ask Barry Sanders.
The Bears kick to the Vikings and Kelly Cambell returns it to the 25. ... Michael Bennett runs for no gain on first down. Christian Peter, who is making his first start for the Bears, made the tackle. ... Daunte Culpepper hits tight end Byron Chamberlain for a first down. ... Bennett runs and rookie Alex Brown, making his first NFL start, rips the back to the ground. ... Bennett catches a short Culpepper pass and is tackle by Brian Urlacher after five-yard gain. ... Culpepper scrambles for nine yards and a first down at midfield. ... Bennett runs for six yards and then catches a little dump-off throw for three yards. ... On third and 1, Moe Williams dives over the top for the first. Mike Brown really delivered a pop on Williams. ... Randy Moss takes a reverse and is chased out by Jerry Azumah and Phillip Daniels for not much of a gain. Culpepper failed to throw a block on either. ... False start and it's second and 13. ... Culpepper is pressured and dumps to Michael Bennett, who has open field in front of him. Azumah sheds a block and makes a nice open-field tackle. That's two straight nice plays by the corner. ... Chamberlain drops a pass on third down and the Vikings will punt. Leon Johnson makes a fair catch at the 17.
Chris Chandler is starting at quarterback this week for the Bears in place of Jim Miller, whose shoulder and elbow tendinitis keeps him out for the second week in a row.
Let me guess, the Bears will run Anthony Thomas up the middle on first down. ... Thomas runs up the middle on first down. A gain of nine. ... Chandler throws to Ahmad Merritt but Merritt drops it and that quickly brings up third down. ... Fullback Daimon Shelton catches a screen pass and stretches for the first down. ... Another dump pass, this time to Thomas, nets five yards. But tight end Dustin Lyman is called for a block in the back. With Fred Baxter and John Davis out, the Bears have two tight ends at their disposal. Lyman, a former college linebacker and John Gilmore, whom they just promoted from the practice squad. ... So it's first and 15 and Thomas runs up the middle for maybe a yard. ... A short dump to Thomas again gets nothing and on third down Chandler scrambles and is sacked. Big break here: A 15-yard facemask is called on the Vikings. Kenny Mixon grabbed Chandler's mask. First down on the 37 and more flags fly. This one's on the Bears. Rookie left tackle Marc Colombo jumped. ... First and 15 now and the Bears run Thomas up the middle. Have they ever thrown on first down? ... More flags. Non-stop excitement. The Vikings are called for encroachment.
And we go to our first Emmitt Smith update. He's already got 28 yards.
Well, it was third and something long. Chandler got nailed as he threw it and Dez White got manhandled downfield. Illegal contact on the Vikings; first down Bears. ... Thomas runs for five and then Chandler dumps one to Shelton who barrels for a first. ... Thomas again not nothing, Chandler throws incomplete and it's third and 10. ... Chandler hangs out in the pocket, pumps once, pumps twice, is wrapped up and finally goes down. The Bears punt.
Bunch of penalties and two punts early. Not much happening here. When's Game 7 of the World Series on?
Minny starts from its own 14. ... After a short Bennett gain and an incomplete pass, Culpepper hits Moss for 12 and a first down. ... Bennett breaks one outside for 15 yards before being hit hard out of bounds by Mike Brown. ... A false start backs the Viking up five yards to the 39. Moss catches a short pass and cuts it back upfield, makes a few spins and finally stetches for a 10-yard gain. A lot of running for not a lot there. ... Bennett picks up the first with an explosive run up the the middle. ... Culpepper fakes short to Moss and looks deep for Chris Walsh. Walsh dives but can't make the catch. ... On second and 10, Williams runs for 15 yards. First down and the Vikings are slowly moving the ball downfield. They're on the Bears' 30. ... Culpepper has a ton of time and throws short to Bennett for eight yards. ... Gary Andersen, he of the single-bar face mask, boots a 44-yard field goal that ties him with Morton Andersen for most field goals in NFL history. And on the same day Emmitt Smith might break Payton's record. Are the Andersens brothers? What's up with kicker brothers. There's a ton of them.
Vikings 3, Bears 0
OK, the Bears start of the 28 and do nothing on the first two plays. But on third, Chandler throws down the sideline to White, who makes a great leaping catch with cornerback Corey Chavous face guarding him. The pass interference penalty is declined. ... The Bears go to Booker. It might be a trap. It looks like a trap. The side judge called it good. The Bears are lining up quickly to try and run a play and Minnesota coach Mike Tice is having trouble getting the replay hanky out of his belt. The race is on. Chandler lines up behind the center and here comes the hanky. That was the most excitement so far. This will be overturned. The ball clearly hit the ground. ... After the reversal, Thomas runs outside for four yards, making it third and 6. ... Chandler's pass is picked off by middle linebacker Greg Biekert. There had to have been some kind of mixup because there wasn't a receiver in sight and Chandler threw the ball right to Biekert.
A few of you have written in saying you agree about Emmitt Smith but point out that he's a pretty classy guy who was awesome in the playoffs. That's hard to argue with.
And then reader Pat Guinane says this: "You know a few weeks ago I thought you had a decent gig, even for a Sunday, but I'm a diehard and the Bears are getting pretty hard to watch."
Yeah, I thought I had a pretty decent gig a few week ago, too.
As I write, the Vikings are moving the ball. A couple of nice runs by Bennett and then a pass to Moss get them inside the 20. First down at the 18. ... Culpepper pump fakes and then takes the ball himself against pass coverage down to the 3. ... A penalty backs them up five yards, but it's still first and goal. ... A couple of runs by Williams move the Vikings to the 2. The Bears' defense is hanging tough here thanks to a Vikings penalty. Two-minute warning. ... Culpepper rolls right and is nailed at the goal line by Urlacher. Nice play there. Mike Green was in on the play, too. The Vikings will go for it on first down and call timeout. But first a few beer commercials. ... Williams tries to pull a Payton move and over the top but is met sideways by Green. It's close and the officials are going to review it, but it's a touchdown.
Vikings 10, Bears 0