Bears crash in Metrodoom

What we are experiencing, financial analysts tell us, is a temporary setback in the economy.

The big picture, the broad perspective, is not nearly so bleak-and so it is with the Bears.

The major indicators were dismal Sunday when the Bears took a physical instead of a fiscal beating from the Minnesota Vikings on the floor of the Metrodome.

The numbers weren't good-41-13 Vikings. But everything should turn out well for the Bears, by and by.

The resounding loss in front of 58,866 fans ended the Bears' six-game winning streak and extended the Vikings' belated winning rally to four in a row, all behind closed doors of domed stadiums.

The 28-point loss was the Bears' worst since the 49ers thrashed them 41-0 on Dec. 14, 1987.

Falling to 9-2 on the season, the Bears remain poised to grasp and control their sixth National Football Conference Central Division championship in the last seven years. They also still find themselves in a position to earn a bye in the first round of the NFC playoffs.

The division champion with the worst record must play the wild-card team with the worst record during the weekend in which the other two division champions have a bye.

With the New York Giants (10-1) losing an NFC contest to the Philadelphia Eagles and the 49ers (10-1) being knocked off by the Rams, the Bears could overtake either one of them in the playoff standings. The 49ers host New York on Dec. 3. The loser will have two losses in the NFC. The Bears' other loss was to the Los Angeles Raiders of the American Football Conference.

"The bottom line with all of this playoff picture is … we just have to control what we are doing," said Bears linebacker Mike Singletary. "We can't worry about the Giants or the 49ers or whomever. We just have to be concerned about the Bears. If the Bears take care of business every week, we will be all right.

"I'm not going to mope and I don't think these guys are going to mope. We came in here and we got beat. We've got to get back and we've got to get focused to play next week. I thought we were ready to play this week . . . but we were looser than we normally are to play a football game. This is a good lesson for us."

The Bears, who host the Detroit Lions next Sunday, entered the game having outscored their opponents 153-55 in the first half. Sunday, they were down 34-3 at intermission because of a combination of poor special-teams play and costly turnovers.

"I think everybody should view this as a slap in the face, just to wake people up, just to let people know that things are not going to be that easy," said Bears strong safety Shaun Gayle.

The Vikings (5-6), making a belated bid for a wild-card berth, climbed on top of the Bears with excellent field position, beginning with Herschel Walker's 64-yard opening kickoff return to set up Fuad Reveiz's 41-yard field goal.

"We got ourselves real deep in a hurry and everything got worse and worse," said Bears tackle Keith Van Horne. "It was a big snowball. We just didn't play well."

Bears quarterback Jim Harbaugh (17 of 26 for 157 yards), who was sacked seven times, fumbled when Al Noga trapped him behind the line and Ken Clarke recovered. Reveiz added a 45-yard field goal moments later to make it 6-0.

The Vikings took a comfortable 13-0 lead when Walker (58 yards on 16 carries) bulled over from 2 yards out behind good blocks from Todd Kalis and Alfred Anderson. The touchdown culminated a 51-yard drive with 3 minutes 55 seconds left in the first quarter.

"We just made a lot of mistakes early, and usually when you make a lot of mistakes you have to give the other team credit," said Bears coach Mike Ditka. "They forced the errors early in the game. They just took advantage of everything and put us in a pretty deep hole that we just couldn't get out of. "I don't think we quit. We kept playing hard, but it didn't matter. They were the better team today by far. We don't question that. They are as good as the Raiders, actually."

Ditka, who frequently lost control on the sideline and in postgame press conferences after losses last season, was a model of composure Sunday.

"I think it is tough staying calm in a 16-13 game," said Ditka. "Once the truck hit me, I didn't bother getting up. I just lay there and watched.

"In life, it is really nothing to get beat. Getting beat happens to anybody. Staying beat … you can do something about that. We have no control over what happened today. It happened and it is gone. But we have control over what happens from here on out. That is the only thing I am worried about.

"I don't feel as bad as a lot of people probably think I should feel."

The Vikings defense, led by linebacker Mike Merriweather's 12 tackles, limited Neal Anderson to 48 yards on 17 carries. Anderson had the ball stripped from him by Merriweather in the third quarter, and Merriweather ran 33 yards for a touchdown and a 41-3 advantage.

"They had eight men up on the line and usually there was one guy we couldn't account for," said Anderson. "It was tough to get yards. They came out with a good game plan and they were able to execute it."

Vikings quarterback Rich Gannon, who has started in place of Wade Wilson (thumb) for the last eight weeks, completed 12 of 19 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns. He hit Hassan Jones, Anthony Carter and Walker for scoring tosses.

The Bears scored on field goals of 40 and 43 yards by Kevin Butler and a 10-yard pass from Harbaugh to Mark Green.

"I don't like to lose," said Anderson. "One point, 28 points … it doesn't matter.

"They had a good play on the opening kickoff. Herschel had a nice run," said Anderson. "Everything went downhill from there."