[size=13pt]Vikings' loss shows they can compete with Bears[/size]

By Eric Krupka on September 26, 2006 12:45 AM

"Let's face it, everything goes through Chicago," Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield said before Sunday's game with Chicago.

Prior to the game, tight end Jimmy Kleinsasser told KFAN's Paul Allen that playing the Bears is, "two tough games each year."

So, naturally, the game was a physical, hard-hitting affair and defensive struggle, which was exactly how everyone thought it would be. And, like Winfield so bluntly put it, everything does go through Chicago.

The Bears came out of the Metrodome victorious, for the first time in their last five tries, winning 19-16 in a game that was marred by penalties on each side.

Believe it or not, aside from the constant yellow flags flying through the air, there was a well-played football game--at least defensively.

Both defenses were stellar as the offenses played, at best, average, with the Bears winning because they were able to score an offensive touchdown after a costly miscue by the Vikings' offense.

If not for a fumble with 3:31 remaining on a botched handoff, the Vikings would have been the team atop the NFC North with a 3-0 record.

It's safe to say, even if the Vikings were stymied by the Bears' defense and were forced to punt instead of fumbling at that juncture of the game, there is no reason to believe that Chicago would have driven the length of the field in the final two minutes to win. The score was 16-12 Minnesota at the time of the turnover, so scoring a touchdown was the only way Chicago could win. All game long, the Bears had trouble moving down the field, but, thanks to the fumble, they only needed to go 37 yards for paydirt.

In the end, the one thing that was proven to all is that the Vikings can challenge the Bears for the division title. While nobody ever likes to lose, at least the Vikings can take solace in knowing they had the Bears beat, and they still get another shot at the reigning NFC North kings.

"We had the opportunity towards the end of the game, but your have to give them credit. They [Chicago] did a terrific job and they are very well coached," Vikings tight end Jermaine Wiggins said after the game.

"It hurts," Vikings center Matt Birk said about the loss.

-Eric Krupka can be reached at [email protected]

Get daily insights on the Minnesota Vikings at RealFootball365.com


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