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VIKINGS: Twists, turns, weird plays ... and a loss to the Bears

CHICAGO -- Darren Sharper is in his 12th NFL season. He has appeared in 174 games, made 158 starts and spent eight years playing in Green Bay, where the frigid late-season weather can create havoc.

CHICAGO -- Darren Sharper is in his 12th NFL season. He has appeared in 174 games, made 158 starts and spent eight years playing in Green Bay, where the frigid late-season weather can create havoc.

But the safety said the Minnesota Vikings' 48-41 loss to the Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field topped anything he had experienced. "I don't know if I've ever been a part of a game that had so many twists and turns and weird plays," he said.

Sharper did not include the word mistakes, but mistakes, primarily by the special teams, ended the Vikings' two-game winning streak and sent them into their bye week a game under .500 at 3-4.

The Vikings surrendered 14 points to the Bears because of special teams blunders that ran the gamut.

Chris Kluwe dropped a first-quarter snap and had his punt blocked before Garrett Wolfe returned it 17 yards for a touchdown. In the second quarter, punt returner Charles Gordon had the ball hit him near his own end zone as he tried to block the Bears' Zack Bowman. Bowman recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.


Then there was the encroachment penalty on the Vikings' Fred Evans that enabled Bears kicker Robbie Gould to attempt a 48-yard field goal instead of a 53-yarder at the end of the first half. Gould, who has never made a field goal of 50 yards in four seasons, nailed the kick to give the Bears a 27-24 lead at halftime.

It didn't help matters that coach Brad Childress' decision to try to keep the ball out of the hands of Bears return man Devin Hester gave Chicago outstanding field position for its first two drives. Or that quarterback Gus Frerotte threw four interceptions, despite the fact the Bears were missing starting cornerbacks Charles Tillman (shoulder) and Nathan Vasher (wrist).

The remarkable thing was that even with the mistakes, the Vikings had a chance to tie the score when they got the ball back with 1 minute, 6 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The drive ended quickly as Frerotte threw pick number four on second down.

Considering how upset coach Brad Childress was two weeks ago when Kluwe failed to follow orders and twice punted the ball to New Orleans' Reggie Bush after being instructed not to, it figured Childress would have melted down Sunday. That didn't happen.

Childress was measured in his postgame comments, careful not to point blame at any one person. "It's just such a different variety of mistakes I think you're talking about in this game," he said. "Do you talk about a ball bouncing and hitting somebody? Sure you do. Do you talk about catching a punt before you punt it? Sure you do. I just think it was some different kind of errors and again I don't find any of the fault with Chuck Gordon or Chris Kluwe. But I'm disappointed that we gave up 21 points on turnovers."

Childress also had to be disappointed that his team didn't win a game in which it generated 439 yards of offense, had a 60 percent conversion rate from the red zone (3-for-5), gave up only 53 yards on the ground and got 121 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Adrian Peterson. That included a 54-yarder in the third quarter that pulled the Vikings within 34-31.

The 41 points represented the most the Vikings have scored in a defeat in their 48-year history. It's the most points the Bears have given up in a victory in franchise history and was the most combined points in the 95 meetings between these teams.

"I don't think I have," ever been part of that crazy of game, said Vikings receiver Bernard Berrian, who had six receptions for a game-high 81 yards and a touchdown in his first game back in Chicago since leaving the Bears as a free agent. "It was like a Madden 2008 game or something. But it just didn't turn out the way we would have liked it to."


The Vikings had a chance to tie the score or take the lead in the third quarter. With the Bears leading 34-31, Childress decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Bears 36-yard line. But instead of handing the ball to Peterson, the play ended with Frerotte rolling right and throwing a pass too low for Berrian.

The Bears, who came out using a no-huddle offense and got 283 yards passing from a far-more poised Kyle Orton than the Vikings have seen, scored on their next two possessions and led 48-31 early in the final quarter.

With one game to go before the halfway point of their season, the Vikings will return to Winter Park today and then be off for the remainder of the bye week. The Vikings won't play again until Nov. 2 when they open a two-game homestand against Houston.

Perhaps it was the knowledge that rest is coming that made the mood in the Vikings locker room seemed far from angry despite the defeat. But players certainly realize that if this franchise is to meet preseason expectations things most be turned around soon and mistakes most be eliminated.

Cornerback Antoine Winfield said he felt "kind of not good" about being 3-4 at this point, adding "we expected a lot out of this year but still have a long way to go."

Childress, meanwhile, remained upbeat.

"Just talking to (the Vikings) leadership group earlier this week about where they were. We just talked about empty the bucket this week," he said. "I don't find any fault with that. I thought they came with the right mindset, I thought they competed their tails off. . . . They are excited for the bye, they were excited to play this game and we've got a lot of football left."

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