Culpepper leads way for Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS -- Daunte Culpepper showed some patience, and
for once the Minnesota Vikings forced more turnovers than they

Question on the Bears: Have they let the injuries and losses mentally affect them?
Not only that, the traveling is starting to take a toll on the Bears as well. To catch a plane every week to head to Champaign -- for the veterans and the young guys alike, it's difficult and hard to adjust to. So the travel, and then the injury to DT Ted Washington, leaving Brian Urlacher unable to roam free, has been a big problem. And I don't see it getting any better.

Question on the Vikings: Is Bennett gradually turning into the every-down back Minnesota lost in Robert Smith?
Yes. Sunday was a great statistical day for the Vikings. QB Daunte Culpepper had a good game, WR Randy Moss had more than 100 yards and Bennett had a great day. When you look at the Vikings of old, you'd see Smith with 100 yards, a receiver with 100 yards and a good day from their quarterback. That's what the Vikings have been looking for since the beginning of the season. Hopefully, for their sake and their fans' sake, they can make this something to look forward to for the next couple of weeks.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Keeping the ball for more than 41 minutes thanks to a
surprisingly tough defense, the Vikings beat banged-up Chicago 25-7
Sunday, handing the Bears their fifth straight loss.

Culpepper was 22-of-29 for 216 yards passing, a touchdown and no
interceptions. His fumble was the Vikings' only turnover, while the
Minnesota defense had a fumble recovery and two interceptions to go
with six sacks.

Culpepper committed 16 turnovers -- including 12 interceptions --
in the first six games, and coach Mike Tice indicated Culpepper
might not have been secure as the starter until Sunday.

"Our quarterback played with a smile on his face,'' Tice said.
"He was determined to show that he should have that job. I'm happy
for him.''

Culpepper said he wasn't worried about being benched.

"I feel he has confidence, in me or I wouldn't be there,''
Culpepper said. "I remind myself to be patient, and when I do
that, good things happen.''

Randy Moss had nine receptions for 119 yards, Gary Anderson
kicked three field goals and Michael Bennett ran 29 times for 106
yards to lead the Vikings (2-5).

Minnesota's minus-14 turnover differential was the league's
worst entering the game.

"If you check the percentages, whoever wins the turnover battle
wins the most games,'' Moss said.

After a rather drowsy first half, Culpepper caught the Chicago
secondary sleeping on the fifth play of Minnesota's first
third-quarter possession. He threw a perfectly placed ball to Moss
in the corner of the end zone on first-and-10 for a 39-yard
touchdown and a 20-0 Vikings lead.

Celebrating his first TD pass to Moss since Week 2, and their
longest scoring hookup of the season, Culpepper excitedly hopped up
and down on his way back to the sideline.

"I was harping on myself all week that if it's not there, don't
force it,'' Culpepper said. "Randy's been there all year, and when
I've tried to force it to him a few times, bad things have

Since starting the season 2-0, nothing good has happened to the

Chris Chandler, starting in place of the injured Jim Miller,
didn't have nearly the same success he enjoyed in his last start at
the Metrodome, in the NFC championship on Jan. 17, 1999. That day
he passed for 340 yards and three touchdowns to lead Atlanta past
the Vikings.

But on Sunday, he was 15-for-25 for 176 yards and an
interception as Chicago sputtered, despite playing against a
pass defense that was ranked next-to-last in the league.

"I feel as awful as everyone else does,'' Chandler said. "We
have to do way better.''

Anthony Thomas was held to 18 yards on nine carries, and the
Bears (2-5) didn't score until Chandler's 27-yard touchdown pass to
Marty Booker on the first play of the fourth quarter.

"That certainly wasn't pretty in any area,'' said Bears coach
Dick Jauron, whose team went 13-3 a year ago. "It's frustrating,
no doubt. There's nobody who's happy right now.''

The one time the Vikings did turn the ball over, it didn't hurt
them. Culpepper's fumble at the goal line gave Chicago the ball,
but two plays later Fred Robbins tackled Thomas in the end zone for
a safety.

The Vikings clearly were interested in playing a patient,
low-risk game. They held the ball for nearly two-thirds of the
first half and went ahead 10-0 on a 1-yard plunge by Moe Williams
on fourth-and-goal.

"That's the whole idea,'' Tice said. "That's why I told
everyone we were going to be a little more boring this year. We
wanted to keep the defense fresh and off the field.''

The Bears' defense, notably missing tackle Ted Washington (foot
and ankle), linebacker Warrick Holdman (knee) and cornerback R.W. McQuarters (hamstring), was worn out.

"The same things just keep happening and happening,'' said
linebacker Rosevelt Colvin. "It just gets ridiculous.''

Game notes
Chandler was hit hard on a fourth-quarter incompletion, and
Henry Burris took over for the final two possessions. Henry was
1-of-6 for 28 yards, an interception and a sack. On just two
carries, Burris led the Bears in rushing with 19 yards. Chandler
said he had the wind knocked out of him. ... Williams had only one
rushing TD in first six seasons, five with Minnesota and one with
Baltimore. Williams, Bennett's backup, has six rushing touchdowns
this year after getting only one during his first six seasons. ...
The Vikings hadn't held an opponent to seven points in their past
36 games. They beat Miami 13-7 on Sept. 10, 2000.

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