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Minnesota Vikings' Dominance Hands Chicago Bears a Large Dose of Reality

Gene ChamberlainCorrespondent INovember 30, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 29:  Jared Allen #69 of the Minnesota Vikings sacks Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears on November 29, 2009 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Bears 36-10.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

MINNEAPOLIS -- The best thing you could say about the Bears after Sunday’s 36-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings was coach Lovie Smith didn’t fill the air with ridiculous ideas about winning out and going 9-7 like Arizona did last year to make the Super Bowl.

Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings all but eliminated the Bears from any type of wild card pursuit with a machine-like 537 yards of offense and 31 first downs.

The Vikings were so impressive that even two more Jay Cutler interceptions, for a personal worst 20 on the season, seemed like just a couple more logs on a bonfire.

The Bears' defense was beaten so badly that they gave up more yards than in any game since Lovie Smith became coach. They gave up more yards than any game Dick Jauron coached. They gave up more yards than in any game Dave Wannstedt coached. They hadn't given up that many yards since Mike Ditka's first year, a Dec. 26, 1982 loss to the Los Angeles Rams (583 yards).

“It’s tough. It’s tough with as good of a football team that I think we have in here, to go out and week after week not live up to our own expectations,” Cutler said in the locker room after going 18-for-23 for 147 yards, including his first touchdown to a wide receiver since Oct. 25.

Expectations Sunday from those outside the locker room were greatly diminished after the Bears had lost five of the previous six.

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They didn’t disappoint in this regard.

“We weren’t effective at all,” said linebacker Lance Briggs, who suffered a knee sprain and had to leave the game.

The Bears chose the lesser of two poisons by trying to stop Adrian Peterson (85 yards, 25 carries), but quarterback Brett Favre showed he can still administer punishment at age 40 by completing 32-of-48 for a season-high 392 yards and three touchdowns.

“They didn’t run the ball very well, I don’t think,” said defensive end Alex Brown, after the Bears held Peterson to his lowest total in five games against them. “Brett Favre, it’s weird when you go into a game and you want to stop Adrian and you say, ‘We’ll take our chances and see if Brett Favre can beat us.’ He did.

“He threw for a bunch of yards today, he threw for some touchdowns. He’s good. He’s a Hall of Famer. That’s a good team out there. They have a lot of weapons. They built a very strong team. We didn’t measure up.”

Reality has set in for the Bears. They won’t cash it in and start experimenting, although they did do a bit of this to some extent by starting Frank Omiyale again at left guard instead of Josh Beekman. Omiyale is bigger and generally regarded as a stronger pass blocker.

The line did protect Cutler fairly well until the game got out of hand, but they did nothing in the run game again and for the sixth time in seven games, Matt Forte failed to rush for more than 41 yards. He had 27.

Even with better blocking for Cutler, he threw interceptions. Even if it probably didn’t impact what eventually happened, Cutler’s first interception was just one more end zone disaster.

He underthrew Knox greatly and Cedric Griffin had an easy pick to prevent the Bears from pulling within 17-14 or 17-10.

“The one he threw in the end zone that was picked, we had a run called,” offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. “It was a bad (defensive) look for us, so he audibled (to a pass).

“The corner bailed out. He’s (Cutler) just got to get (the ball) out there more.”

Turner jumped to Cutler’s defense by pointing out he had little to do with the second interception, which was tipped and wound up in Jared Allen’s hands.

The Bears had another chance to start the second half after Johnny Knox returned a kickoff 77 yards to the Vikings’ 8. They wound up going backward 13 yards and kicking a field goal.

“On second down we call a pass play and his primary receiver that he’s looking for, he ran the wrong route,” said Turner, who wouldn’t identify the primary target. “So (Cutler) is looking for a guy who is supposed to be there who would have been wide open. He’s not there so then he (Cutler) gets sacked.

“It’s a matter of us executing better and giving him an opportunity. When you give him an opportunity, he’s a hell of a player. But we’ve got to give him a chance on each and every play. we didn’t do that today.”

At this point, the excuses are getting repetitive, whether some are legitimate or not.

The Bears have the St. Louis Rams coming up and facing a dome team in December cold at Soldier Field is normally an opportunity they cherish.

“We’ve got to go back and just get one win and build on it from there,” Brown said.

They’ve been saying this six of the past seven weeks, the most losses they’ve had in any seven-game stretch since Smith became head coach and the most by any Bears team over seven games since 2002.

So even a struggling dome team playing outdoors can't be overlooked.

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