MINNEAPOLIS--Ten quick reactions late at night before an early-morning flight after an ugly 34-14 loss for the Bears ...
1. As an interested onlooker in the StarCaps situation, no one is keeping a closer eye on things right now than the Bears. Expectations are that the NFL will rule on the appeals made by Minnesota defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams on Monday or Tuesday. They've both received four-game suspensions for violation of the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances. They'e had their appeals and are waiting with others on a decision.
We're not even going to begin to attempt to tackle all of the elements in play here, but the bottom line is the Vikings would be a dramatically different team without the Williams Wall at the middle of their defense. Now trailing the Vikings by a game in the division, the Bears can only hope that wall crumbles.
2. Long before Kyle Orton had his consecutive passes streak without an interception snapped at 206 in the third quarter, it was a bad night for him. Orton wound up with three picks and could have had that many in the first half also the way some of his passes were bouncing around off Vikings defenders. He didn't get any help from his receivers dropping balls either.
"The passing game needs to step up," Orton said. "I need to step up."
3. I didn't make it to the huddle offensive coordinator Ron Turner held in the locker room after the game, but there has to be some speculation on the series of play calls when the Bears were first-and-goal from the one-yard line in the second quarter.
First down--Orton throws unsuccessfully to the corner for tight end Greg Olsen.
Second down--Forte takes a toss left and is stopped.
Third down--Fullback Jason Davis gives it a try in the middle of the line.
Fourth down--Forte is stopped running off right tackle.
I'd have gone for it on fourth down, also, but the play calling was curious. If you're at the one, why not try four plays with your best player Forte? If running against the Williams Wall is the biggest challenge you face, why hand the ball to Davis, who was promoted from the practice squad Saturday? That's running right into the strength of the defense. Was it supposed to surprise the Vikings?
4. Charles Tillman usually guesses better than he did this time. Thing is, when Tillman guesses wrong it usually doesn't lead to 99-yard touchdown passes. The veteran cornerback had the responsibility to cover Bernard Berrian and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe on the deep ball that changed the complexion of the game. He was following Berrian to whatever side of the field he went. He cannot cheat inside on Shiancoe and leave Berrian uncovered. Can't happen. Players can run Shiancoe down from behind. As we saw, you're not going to catch Berrian.
5. The Bears' wide receiving corps that entered with 16 receptions in the last three games produced ... five catches, three by Devin Hester. So that's 21 catches by wideouts in four games if you're keeping score at home.
6. When you see free safety Kevin Payne run with the ball in his hands as you did after his interception in the third quarter you see how he was a standout running back early in his career at Louisiana-Monroe. He has a team-high four now.
7. Looks like defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek will wind up on injured reserve for the third time in three years. Lovie Smith called his right arm injury "serious." Some thought Anthony Adams should have been playing more all along. We'll see how he performs now and if he gets the start or the defense turns to rookie Marcus Harrison.
8. Jared Allen has more than justified the trade and the contract he got in two games vs. the Bears. He had all three VIkings sacks and was credited with four quarterback hits. He sacked Orton twice in the first meeting at Soldier Field. John St. Clair has looked pretty solid against everyone else he has faced.
9. The Bears are mightly lucky Bears killer Steve Smith did in Green Bay with that nifty catch near the end of the game to set up the game-winning touchdown at Lambeau Field. The Packers have stumbled two straight weeks but they've got it easy the rest of the way and if the Williams Wall is knocked over by the league, the NFC North just might be decided by the Dec. 22 meeting between the Bears and Packers at Soldier Field.
10. Get a good look at ``Monday Night Football.'' The Bears host Jacksonville coming off a short week and end the season at Houston.