Bears' defense left black and blue by Peterson, Vikings

Oct 15, 2007 - 6:45 PM By Matt Santillo PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

After always having to stand up for a shaky offense, the final straw may have broken over the back of the Chicago Bears' defense - and the straw's name was Adrian Peterson.

Normally one of the top units in the league, Chicago's defense was run over here, there and everywhere, as Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings rolled up 444 yards of total offense en route to a 34-31 victory Sunday.

The disappointing loss dropped the Bears (2-4) to last place in the NFC North Division with very few signs of good times ahead.

Peterson shredded Chicago for 224 rushing yards, including three touchdown romps of 67, 73 and 35 yards. It was the most rushing yards ever allowed by the Bears, topping the 216 that Ricky Williams had as a member of the Miami Dolphins in 2002.

Add in the 83 yards that backup Chester Taylor ran for, and the Vikings finished with 311 rushing yards - an astounding average of 7.2 per carry.

However, Peterson did not stop there. The rookie star returned a foolishly placed kickoff late in the fourth quarter 53 yards to help set up Ryan Longwell's game-winning, 55-yard field goal.

In all, the first-year player from Oklahoma racked up 361 all-purpose yards, the third-highest total in NFL history.

"Give him his credit, he's going to be one of the great ones," Bears cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. said to the Chicago Tribune. "But it wasn't all him today. We were missing a lot of tackles."

Peterson's performance was so dominant, he admitted to receiving compliments from several Chicago players after the game.

"On one play when (Brian Urlacher) tackled me - I want to say I got the best of him a little bit on that one - (he) was like, 'You've got a pretty good forward lean,'" Peterson told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Despite the warm feelings, Chicago is left searching for a number of answers - like how the defense fell apart so quickly.

Over the previous two seasons, the Bears ranked within the top five in the league in both points and yards allowed, carrying the load for an offensive unit that was average at best.

But when Brian Griese threw for 381 yards - the most by a Bears quarterback since 1999 - and three touchdowns in his third start since replacing Rex Grossman, the defense could not come up with any stops, giving up three scoring plays from scrimmage of at least 60 yards for the first time.

"I don't even feel like we were in position to make the tackles," tackle Tommie Harris told the Sun-Times.

Comments like Harris' certainly make the Bears' sluggish start very worrisome. Chicago has two more games before its much-needed bye - traveling to Philadelphia next week before hosting Detroit.

The Bears' defense was the foundation of last year's Super Bowl team and a squad which won two straight NFC North Division titles. Now coach Lovie Smith will have a tough time invigorating the once-feared unit.

"The season's not waiting on us," defensive end Alex Brown told the Sun-Times. "We need to start winning, and we need to start winning now. If we don't, then we'll be home real early."

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