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Bears Upend Vikings


The Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings continued their surprising play Sunday. That was good for the Bears and bad for the Vikings.

The upstart Bears edged the disappointing Vikings 24-22 by forcing five turnovers and turning three of them into touchdowns.

Chicago improved to 3-2 under new coach Dick Jauron. Minnesota, which reached the NFC title game last year, fell to 2-3.

"We made a statement tonight," said Bears cornerback Terry Cousin. "Everybody remembered what happened last year" when the Bears were embarrassed 48-22.

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  • But this is a new Bears team, with a new style and a new swagger.

    "I think what should have happened out there today happened," Jauron said matter-of-factly. "It's a big step for us, not only a win on the road but in the division."

    Minnesota defensive lineman Jerry Ball said the Vikings didn't deserve to win.

    "Face it," he said with a sigh. "The best team won today."

    And you'll get no argument from Vikings receiver Randy Moss, who caught eight passes for 122 yards but was kept out of the end zone for the third time in five weeks.

    "I really don't know what's wrong," Moss said. "We keep struggling week in and week out. We just can't put the puzzle together to make it work."

    Until Chris Walsh's 18-yard TD with two seconds remaining the Vikings were offsides on the ensuing onside kick Minnesota had failed to find the end zone in seven trips inside the Bears' 25.

    "They played red-zone defense a little better than we played red-zone offense," said Vikings coach Dennis Green.

    Jeff Jaeger, attling a strained hip flexor, missed three field goals for Chicago. But the Bears intercepted Randall Cunningham three times and forced rookie tight end Jim Kleinsasser to fumble twice deep in Chicago territory, recovering one in the end zone for a touchdown.

    Bears quarterback Shane Matthews was brilliant before pulling his right hamstring while scrambling early in the fourth quarter. He completed 19 of 28 passes for 184 yards, two TDs and no interceptions.

    Rookie Cade McNown came in but the drive stalled and Jaeger nailed a 41-yarder for a 24-15 lead with 12:21 left. McNown finished 9-for-14 for 97 yards and no turnovers.

    "A lot wasn't asked of me," McNown said. "We already had the lead and the defense was playing strong and you just go in there and hand the ball off to guys like Curtis Enis."

    The Vikings again stumbled when Kleinsasser fumbled at the Bears 25 and Chicago's Khari Samuel recovered with 10 minutes left.

    "I didn't tuck the ball away either time," Kleinsasser said.

    Moss was both critical and compassionate toward the rookie.

    "I told him that's part of the game," Moss said. "You got the ball out there loose, OK? Somebody's going to come up and hit it. I just told him, `Man, keep your head up."'

    Barry Minter picked off Cunningham's tipped pass at the Bears 18 with three minutes left to preserve the victory.

    The Vikings came out crisply in the second half, but Tom Carter wrestled away a 55-yard pass from Moss at the Bears 1 and returned it 36 yards.

    Then, Matthews hit Marcus Robinson with a 3-yard TD throw that gave Chicago a 21-12 lead. Robinson caught eight passes for 90 yards.

    Gary Anderson, who had made just 4 of 9 field goals coming into Sunday, was good from 26, 40, 23, 26 and 34 yards as the Vikings offense kept stalling.

    The Bears led 14-12 at halftime and could have been ahead by even more if not for two missed field goals and a dropped touchdown pass.

    Cousin intercepted a pass at the Bears 38 and five plays later, Matthews connected with Curtis Conway on a 30-yard catch-and-run TD for a 14-9 lead.

    The Vikings gt the ball back with 1:07 left and drove downfield for Anderson's fourth field goal, a 26-yarder as the half expired.

    The Bears went ahead 7-0 in the first quarter when linebacker Rico McDonald hit Kleinsasser at the Vikings 17 and Sean Harris recovered the ball in the end zone.

    "Our coaches were putting it in our minds all week that we could stop them," Harris said. "We had a lot of speeches about facing the giant."

    In their last four home games, including a loss to Atlanta in the NFC championship game last January, the Vikings have lost three times to double-digit underdogs.

    "You know there's a rainbow at the end," Cunningham said. "I just hope that we're at the bottom of this valley."

    Notes

  • Robert Smith rushed 12 times for 107 yards, his first 100-yard game of the season and a team record 18th time overall.
  • Rico McDonald left in the third quarter with a thigh bruise.
  • Cris Carter started his 101st straight game for the Vikings despite a strained hip flexor and caught five passes for 62 yards. He was in a lot of pain after the game, when he vomited into a trash can and refused interview requests.
  • Matthews will be evaluated on Monday.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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