Bears Ready For Vikings, And Frozen Field
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – The Minnesota Vikings finally have a stadium where they can face the Chicago Bears in their home finale. Their quarterback situation has also been settled.
With the Metrodome damaged by snow, the banged-up Vikings – led by third-string quarterback Joe Webb – will move outdoors to TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota on Monday night when they host a Bears team hoping to clinch the NFC North title.
Inspectors determined there wasn’t enough time to repair the roof of the Metrodome after it collapsed under the weight of about 17 inches of freshly fallen snow early last Sunday.
Minnesota (5-8) had been scheduled to host the New York Giants that afternoon, but the league moved the game to Monday night in Detroit. The Vikings lost 21-3, as Brett Favre sat out with a multitude of injuries, ending his NFL-record streak of consecutive starts at 297.
This time, the Vikings are staying in Minneapolis, but they’ll be playing at the Golden Gophers’ outdoor stadium.
Minnesota hasn’t played a home outdoor game since Dec. 20, 1981 – 29 years to the day before this game – the last game played at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington.
One reason the Vikings moved into the Metrodome the following year is because of frigid Minnesota winters. Monday will likely be no exception, as forecasts project temperatures to drop into single digits.
“The biggest thing is we’ve got to play the Vikings this week,” Bears long snapper Patrick Mannelly said. “We’re not playing conditions or stadiums, we’re playing the Vikings. So, first and foremost, we’ve got to worry about them and then we’ll go from there.”
A change of venue could be a good thing for Chicago (9-4), which has lost seven of its last eight at the Metrodome.
The Bears have won 10 straight outdoor games in December and January against dome or warm-weather teams, but didn’t look prepared for wintry conditions last weekend.
Playing in cold weather with snow and a 30-mph wind swirling through Soldier Field against New England last Sunday, Chicago was run over in a 36-7 loss, snapping a five-game winning streak. The Bears trailed 33-0 at halftime and were outgained 475-185 in the game.
“Sometimes you’re going to get knocked out,” nose tackle Anthony Adams said. “But you have to get back up and keep fighting, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Despite being embarrassed at home, the Bears maintained their one-game lead over Green Bay in the division, and can clinch the North title with a win over the Vikings if the Packers lose in New England on Sunday night.
Minnesota was eliminated from playoff contention with its loss to the Giants.
With the 41-year-old Favre sitting out with a sore chest, throwing hand and right shoulder, Tarvaris Jackson started and completed 15 of 30 passes for 118 yards and an interception. Jackson left the game with turf toe and was put on injured reserve Thursday.
The Vikings signed veteran Patrick Ramsey to take his place, and interim coach Leslie Frazier said then he wasn’t yet ready to name a starter.
Favre didn’t participate in Saturday’s practice, and Frazier said the 41-year-old quarterback won’t play, naming Webb the starter.
“Joe Webb had a good day today,” Frazier said Saturday. “He really seems as if this whole thing is not too big for him, and I’m really looking forward to watching him on Monday night.”
Webb, a sixth-round pick from UAB, becomes the third third-string quarterback the Bears will face this season after wins over Miami and Detroit.
While Chicago’s defense was picked apart by Tom Brady last week, it did a good job of shutting down Favre and Adrian Peterson in a 27-13 win at Soldier Field on Nov. 14. The Bears, who haven’t swept a season series from Minnesota since 2006, picked off Favre three times and limited Peterson to 51 yards on 17 carries.
Peterson was held to 26 yards on 14 carries against the Giants and bruised a knee in a collision with Jackson on a handoff, but isn’t expected to miss any time.
Minnesota’s defense also struggled mightily against New York, allowing a season-worst 395 yards. The unit had some trouble against the Bears in Week 10, too, as Jay Cutler passed for 237 yards with three touchdowns.
Cutler didn’t have much success against the Patriots last week, completing 12 of 26 passes for 152 yards with two interceptions, finishing with a season-low 32.9 quarterback rating. He had thrown five touchdowns without a pick in his previous two games.
“We played really good football up to this point,” Cutler said. “We’ve got to learn from this. We’ve got to get ready to play Minnesota.”