Bears loss cements seat in front of TV for postseason
The phrase "desperate times call for desperate measures" wasn't created with the Chicago Bears in mind. It's just that the words perfectly described them Monday night.
With the slimmest of playoff hopes alive, Chicago wasn't afraid to try anything against the Minnesota Vikings -- or stray from their normal game plan.
While they get high marks for creativity, they also get a seat in front of the TV for the postseason after a 20-13 loss in a rockin' Metrodome.
"We didn't win the game, so we didn't play good enough," said quarterback Kyle Orton, making his first start in nearly two years. "It was frustrating. We've been in a lot of games, and this was just another one. We had a chance to win it."
They did -- until Orton's final pass in the last two minutes sailed 45 yards toward Bernard Berrian in the end zone but settled in safety Darren Sharper's arms.
Chicago came out -- and went out -- throwing. It passed on nine of its first 10 first downs and 19 of 24 on the night.
They had Devin Hester run a reverse on offense, and fake a reverse on a punt return. They also resorted to old-time Chicago football, forcing three first-half turnovers, and four overall, while committing only one.
"The defense got us a lot of turnovers," Orton said, "but we kept them on the field too much."
The Vikings were in control of their wild-card destiny coming in; Chicago needed more help than there's space in this newspaper to detail. Minnesota improved to 8-6 while Chicago dropped its third straight to fall to 5-9.
The Vikings recorded their fifth straight victory, outscoring those foes 159-69 after being outscored 188-166 in the first nine games.
Monday, early on, the Vikings looked more like their early-season version than the one that took care of Chicago 34-31 in October. The earlier win was when Adrian Peterson had 224 yards rushing and 361 combined yards (128 kickoff, 9 receiving). He had touchdown runs of 67, 73 and 35 yards.
This time, Chicago held Peterson to 22 yards in the first half on eight carries, and to 78 yards on 20 rushes overall.
Minnesota entered the game first in rushing and rushing defense in the NFL, but last in pass defense. Chicago was 25th against the run and 30th in rushing.
"We talk a lot about finishing, but we weren't able to do that," Bears head coach Lovie Smith said. "Penalties hurt us (11 for 95 yards). You win the turnover battle, you normally win the game. But they made some big plays at the end.
"It's been the story of our season. We did some good things, then just weren't able to finish. We know we have to be able to play a complete game."
Chicago led 13-6 at halftime despite not getting a first down until 8:27 of the second quarter.
The Bears had Robbie Gould field goals of 29 and 47 yards to go with a 1-yard run by fullback Jason McKie in the first half. Minnesota' points came on Ryan Longwell field goals of 42 and 48 yards.
Minnesota was primed to tie the game 13-13 after a 1-yard scoring run by Peterson early in the third quarter, but Longwell missed the point-after after a mishandled snap.
The Vikings went ahead 20-13 on an 8-yard run by Peterson with 10:56 left, with backup quarterback Brooks Bollinger running in the two-point conversion.
Chicago reached the Minnesota 39 on its next drive, but an intentional grounding penalty on Orton forced the Bears to punt.
On its final possession, Orton threw the pick to Sharper, and the Vikings then ran out the clock.
Smith said Orton "did a decent job for his first time out in a hostile environment. He didn't do anything to hurt himself tonight."
Orton was harder on himself.
"We just didn't make enough plays," he said, "and I put it on me."
Reed Schreck is the NFL writer for the Rockford Register Star. Contact him at 815-987-1381 or firstname.lastname@example.org.