Bears playing like it's '89 again
Fred Mitchell answers fans' e-mails
Q You have covered a lot of Bears games over the last 20 years. Do you remember seeing them look so pitiful?
A In terms of a relatively talented team dropping off the radar screen, this Bears team brings to mind the 1989 season, when coach Mike Ditka predicted his injury-depleted 6-4 club would not win another game that season. They fulfilled their coach's dire prediction by dropping the final six games to finish 6-10.
Other than on offense, defense and special teams, these Bears look like world-beaters. They could use a Rally Monkey for the rest of this season.
Q Who was a better running back, Walter Payton or Emmitt Smith?
A The two had a lot in common. Both were durable, generally healthy runners. Neither possessed blazing speed. Payton seemed to enjoy contact, delivering a forearm shiver or a lowered shoulder before a tackler could get a solid hit on him. Both runners kept their legs churning until the whistle blew. Both were team-oriented and took as much pride in their blocking, pass catching and play-faking as they did their running.
Q How did Randy Moss manage to get open for that 39-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter?
A Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan noticed from the press box that the Bears were moving a safety up near the line of scrimmage to help stop running back Michael Bennett. That left Moss one-on-one with Reggie Austin. Linehan passed that information down to the sideline.
"That was the only time to that point that they went single coverage on Randy," Vikings coach Mike Tice said.
Q What was Chris Chandler thinking when he threw that interception right into the hands of the Vikings linebacker in the second quarter?
A Veteran linebacker Greg Biekert had an interception and a fumble recovery.
"That interception was because of the defensive line," Biekert said. "We showed blitz, dropped out, got pressure on [Chandler] quick and made him throw before he wanted to. He threw it right to me. I just had to catch the ball."
Q Were the Bears just lucky last season, or have they deteriorated that quickly?
A A little of both. Greg Blache's defensive unit produced 37 turnovers and five touchdowns last year. The Bears have recorded 13 takeaways this season, and Mike Brown's 62-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Buffalo was the Bears' only defensive score in 2002.
Q How did the Bears' defense make Daunte Culpepper look like an All-Pro?
A In his previous game against the New York Jets, Culpepper threw three interceptions. He had thrown 10 in his previous four games. His 12 interceptions and four fumbles accounted for 16 of Minnesota's league-worst 21 turnovers. But Sunday Culpepper had all day to throw and Bennett took the pressure off him by rushing for 106 yards.
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