MINNEAPOLIS—By that time, it was a moot point. Did it really matter who finished at quarterback for the Bears with 4 minutes 45 seconds remaining Sunday and the Vikings leading by 18 points?
If you had heard Henry Burris talking afterward about possible overtime scenarios, you might have thought it did.
Chandler, the starting quarterback in Sunday's 25-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, acknowledged taking a shot to the ribs on a sack at midfield on the preceding possession. Coach Dick Jauron said Chandler's 9-yard pass to Marty Booker that fell short on fourth-and-13 and effectively ended the Bears' chances was a result of Chandler's condition, but Chandler said he was fine.
"I could go out there and play right now," Chandler said afterward. "It was nothing specific. I was just kind of on the sideline and they said Henry is going to go finish it. I thought I was going to [keep playing]. I wasn't anticipating coming out, let's put it that way."
Chandler finished with 176 yards on 15-of-25 passing with one touchdown and one interception in place of Jim Miller, who sat out his second straight game with tendinitis in his throwing elbow and shoulder. Miller was designated the No. 2 quarterback.
Chandler was under intense pressure throughout and sacked five times for minus-29 yards. His struggles were emblematic of a Bears offense that trailed miserably in time of possession 41:03-18:57 and was utterly inert on the groundBurris outgained Anthony Thomas 19 yards on two carries to 18 yards on nine carries.
"For some reason we're just not sustaining drives and staying on the field long enough," Chandler said. "It's continuity of keeping drives together, converting third downs, getting yourself in third-and-longs, all kinds of things. There are a lot of things that can contribute why as an offense you don't stay on the field."
The offensive linemen took the brunt of blame.
"It was embarrassing," center Olin Kreutz said. "There was no push [up front]. We need to blow holes open somehow. We're a unit that prides itself on that and we're not getting it done.
"I don't know if it's lack of focus. I know we're coming to work every day, I know we're working hard, but Monday through Saturday doesn't count. Sunday is what counts, and we're not getting it done on Sunday right now. We stunk it up today. There's no way our defense can perform with us playing like that."
One school of thought still holds that somehow the Bears, under Chandler, would have success passing the ball. With 44 rushes to 31 pass attempts Sunday, the questions will persist, even within the team.
"We have to outscore them," Marcus Robinson said. "I don't care if it's a shootout, then shoot it out. If you can't run it, throw it. What did Drew Bledsoe throw a couple of weeks ago, 63 times? If the running game isn't going, pass it."
Still, with the offense struggling under both Chandler's and Miller's direction, there was no great demand to find out next week's starter. Early indications point to Chandler, with Miller scheduled to get a second medical opinion on his ailing arm at midweek.
"We're not quitting," Kreutz said. "I'm coming back to work on Monday, working hard and playing on Sunday again. We've been through 4-12 seasons and I don't want to play with anybody else but the guys in this room."