1:00 PM ET, September 8, 2002
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kordell Stewart and Chicago showed some spunk, but Minnesota was just better.The Bears might have to get used to that this year.Could take a little adjusting for the Vikings, too.Moe Williams rushed 21 times for 108 yards and a touchdown, and Daunte Culpepper threw two TD passes to tight end Jim Kleinsasser to lead Minnesota to a tough 24-13 victory Sunday night.The Vikings, who rushed for 202 yards, are 2-0 for the first time since 2000 when they went to the NFC championship game."We haven't been 2-0 in awhile," center Matt Birk said. "Hopefully we haven't peaked yet."Culpepper was 20-for-26 for 214 yards, no interceptions and one lost fumble. Minnesota had 25 first downs to Chicago's 10 and had 400 total yards to the Bears' 208.The Vikings went 11-21 the past two seasons."This year we're smart, we fight and we finish the job," Culpepper said.Stewart was much better than he was in an embarrassing debut last week, completing 13 of 21 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown.He left late in the fourth quarter after straining his neck. On a pass play, Stewart was hit hard by Lance Johnstone and came down awkwardly on the turf. He lay on the ground for several moments before being helped to the sideline."Right now my neck is pretty stiff," Stewart said. "I'll be fine."Chris Chandler came on and was intercepted by Brian Russell near midfield to clinch it for Minnesota as the depleted Bears fell to 0-2. They lost to San Francisco 49-7 in the opener."It was a whole lot better in the fourth quarter than it was a week ago," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. "We had a chance."Leading by only four with 12:38 remaining, the Vikings wore the Bears out with a 93-yard, 16-play drive. Culpepper capped it with a TD pass to Kleinsasser on third-and-goal from the 11 with 2:56 left.Minnesota converted four third downs on that possession, twice on third-and-1 when Williams rushed for 2 and 17 yards."Everybody was tired," Williams said. "It was just that type of game."Hopes that Bears fans had in their club bouncing back from last week seemed gone when the Vikings took a 7-0 lead just 63 seconds in.After John Avery returned the opening kickoff 34 yards, Culpepper found a wide-open Kelly Campbell for 51 yards down the sideline on the Vikings' first play from scrimmage. Chicago lost a challenge that Campbell was out of bounds, and Williams scored on a 1-yard plunge two plays later.The Bears didn't fold, though. They could've easily gone ahead, had they been able to build on any of their big plays."We were definitely more effective than last week," wide receiver Dez White said.Anthony Thomas, who had 15 yards on six carries against the 49ers, rumbled for 34 yards on the Bears' first drive to the Minnesota 20. But the next four plays went like this: no gain, 1-yard run, false start, incomplete pass. Paul Edinger kicked a 42-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.On the Vikings' next possession, Phillip Daniels forced Culpepper to fumble on a sack at the Chicago 7. Brian Urlacher recovered, but Brad Maynard was soon out for his first of five punts.Alex Brown hacked the ball out of Culpepper's hands during a sack on the subsequent drive only to watch it bounce neatly back into the palm of Minnesota's burly quarterback.The Vikings drove 93 yards in 16 plays and took a 17-3 lead when Culpepper shot-putted a 3-yard TD pass to Kleinsasser with 1:55 remaining before halftime.Then, the Bears got tough, and Minnesota started to struggle.Stewart guided the Bears 60 yards in eight plays, a drive punctuated by a 14-yard touchdown pass to David Terrell -- who placed the ball on the pylon in the back of the end zone. Marty Booker picked it up and chucked it in celebration at the wall. That cut the lead to 17-10 with 45 seconds left."We were right in the game," guard Corbin Lacina said. "We felt good about what we were doing. It just didn't work out for us."Minnesota gained just 43 yards in the third quarter, and Chicago pulled within 17-13 on a 43-yard field goal by Edinger.Again, though, the Bears failed to seize the momentum.A 49-yard pass from Stewart to White put the ball at the Vikings 15, but back-to-back sacks by Brian Williams and Greg Biekert pushed the Bears back.