Williams, Culpepper key Minnesota


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kordell Stewart and Chicago showed some
spunk, but the Minnesota Vikings were just better. The Bears might
have to get used to that this year.

Could take a little adjusting for the Vikings, too.

Question on the Bears: Are we looking at a repeat of their 4-12 season from 2002?
It's looking like it. There doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel for the Bears. QB Kordell Stewart doesn't look very sharp, and the Bears may be looking to go with Chris Chandler if Stewart is seriously injured. Chandler has the ability to be a good quarterback, but he doesn't take hits well. If they name him the starter and he goes down, this season could get worse very quickly.

Question on the Vikings: Is this the most underrated offensive line in the league?
Possibly, it says something when a team wins one week passing the ball and the next week rushing. The Vikings' line has done a great a job protecting QB Daunte Culpepper and giving RB Moe Williams room to run.

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

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 the Vikings to a 24-13 victory Sunday night.

The Vikings, who rushed for 202 yards, are off to their first
2-0 start since 2000, when they went to the NFC championship game.

"We haven't been 2-0 in a while," 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

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

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 of 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
the challenge that Campbell's feet were out of bounds, and Williams
scored on a 1-yard plunge two plays later.

The Bears didn't fold, though. They easily could've 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

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

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.

Game notes
At halftime, the Vikings retired the jersey of wide receiver
Cris Carter, who had more than 1,000 catches and 100 touchdowns in
his 12 seasons with the club. ... Thomas rushed 10
times for 53 yards.


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