The Soldier Field turf, hallowed by the presence of Bears Hall of Famers such as Sid Luckman, Gale Sayers, Walter Payton and Dick Butkus during special pregame ceremonies Sunday, was then desecrated by a second straight sorry performance by the '94 Bears.
The drawing board is not big enough for the Bears to go back to. They chalked up the most lopsided defeat in the brief head coaching career of Dave Wannstedt when the Minnesota Vikings coasted to a 35-0 lead before settling for a 42-14 pounding.
Vikings coach Dennis Green beat the Bears for the fifth time in as many attempts, and Minnesota moved in front of the NFC Central pack with a 2-1 record. The defenseless Bears fell to 1-2 after allowing 72 points in the last two games.
Even with their sub-.500 record, the Bears remain very much alive in the NFC Central, if only they can emerge from this mid-September slumber. Green Bay (1-2) and Tampa Bay (1-2) share the Bears' indignity. And Detroit (1-1) must travel to Dallas Monday night.
Wearing replicas of their 1925 jerseys in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the NFL, the Bears played as if they were 75-year-olds trying to keep up with their spry grandkids.
"We got whipped in all areas today. I'm embarrassed. And we have got to regroup and somehow get this thing back on track," said Wannstedt, whose Bears travel to the Meadow-lands next Sunday night to face the New York Jets (2-1).
The loss was the Bears' worst since the 52-14 shellacking at the hands of San Francisco at the end of the 1991 season.
"It wasn't any one person, and it wasn't any one phase," Wannstedt said.
Which is precisely the problem.
"Defensively, we didn't stop the run," Wannstedt said. "We didn't tackle good. Offensively, we turned the ball over. And in the kicking game, we gave them another touchdown. As a team, we did not get the job done."
Just when Bears fans felt it could not get any worse after Philadelphia ran up and down the field in a 30-22 trouncing of the Bears last Monday night, it got worse Sunday in front of 61,073 fans.
Minnesota running back Terry Allen, coming back from knee surgery for the second time in his career, ran for 159 yards on 22 carries (7.2 average) and two touchdowns.
"I was definitely in a zone today," said Allen, reciting from a script that may be oft-repeated by opposing runners this season if the Bears don't rectify their most glaring weakness.
"It seemed like the holes were huge. The offensive line did a great job. Those guys got happy up front, and that makes it real easy for me. At one point in time they started talking about: `Let's go get 200 yards.' And when they start talking like that, it's really good."
When Allen wasn't running wild, veteran quarterback Warren Moon was finding his range after struggling in the first two games this season. The former Houston Pro Bowler completed 22 of 29 passes for 236 yards and one touchdown.
The Vikings drove to the Bears' 2 to start the game before a second-down Moon pass intended for Randall McDaniel was picked off by Maurice Douglass. The veteran nickel back returned the interception 18 yards.
The Bears' defense could not halt the Vikings on their next possession, however. An 80-yard drive was capped by a 12-yard touchdown run by Allen with 8:57 left in the second quarter.
Fuad Reveiz added a 42-yard field goal with 3:33 left in the half to make it 10-0 Vikings.
"They `out-physicaled' us, which disappoints me that anyone would out-physical us," Wannstedt said. "They wore us down 30 plays the first half to 20. And from there it was an uphill battle."
After Kevin Butler missed a 54-yard field-goal attempt wide right late in the first half, the Vikings moved to the Bears' 20. But Moon's pass to Jake Reed was fumbled after a hit from Joe Cain and Shaun Gayle. Cain recovered the fumble with :35 left in the half.
The Vikings opened the second half with a six-play, 65-yard drive that featured a 44-yard run by Allen. The Bears' defense stiffened again inside the 20, and Reveiz booted a 24-yard field goal to make it 13-0.
Curtis Conway fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Dave Garnett recovered for the Vikings at the 18. On the first play from scrimmage, Moon passed to Reed to make it 20-0.
"We gave them another touchdown on the kicking game for the second week in a row," Wannstedt said.
Just when the Bears began to move the ball, Erik Kramer's pass intended for Conway was intercepted by rookie cornerback Dewayne Washington and returned 81 yards for a TD. Moon's pass to Cris Carter was good for the two-point coversion and a 28-0 lead at 6:25 of the third quarter.
The Vikings and Eagles ran for a combined 318 yards against the Bears in the last two games.
"Size of the defensive line is not the issue," said Wannstedt of the 270-pound Chris Zorich and 272-pound Albert Fontenot, the latter of whom started in place of Carl Simpson at left tackle.
"We're as big now as the linemen we had last year. And we're bigger now than any of the groups (Wannstedt had) at Dallas. And we are bigger than the group that kicked our tails today. So size has nothing to do with it.
"We have to make plays. By making plays, I don't just mean catching passes. We have to make tackles. You have to block people on kickoff returns."
The Bears averted a shutout with a 1-yard TD run by Tim Worley and an 8-yard TD pass to Tom Waddle in the fourth period.
After the game, it was learned that Kramer had a slightly separated shoulder.
"For as hard as these guys worked this week and for as much time as what was put in, they have nothing to show for it," Wannstedt said. "We have to regroup and get ready for the Jets."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times