Vikings feeling sense of 'dj vu' after loss to Bears

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Vikings feeling sense of 'dj vu' after loss to Bears

The date was October 14, 2007. The stage was Soldier Field. Rookie running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns, breaking the Minnesota Vikings single-game rushing record, in a 34-31 win over the Chicago Bears.

Thats the last time the Vikings won a game in Chicago. Since then the Bears have dominated the Vikings, winning the last five meetings at Soldier Field.

This is becoming dj vu up here, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said. This is the same script, just a different year. We got to fix something.

One Viking suggests something supernatural may be the reason for Chicagos success.

They might have a lucky troll or something over there, defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. Every time we come up here it seems like the same story. We got to find a way to get over that and get a win here.

Recently the Vikings are not only having a tough time beating the Bears in Chicago, but they cant beat them at home either, losing six consecutive games in the series.

So is this something the Vikings carried with them heading into Sundays game?

We knew what we was getting into, Peterson said. Those guys wanted to come out and make a statement, but I feel like it was more so what we did. Giving the ball away. Not making routine plays. Got to give credit to those guys because they did a good job of stopping us.

The two teams will strap it on two weeks from now in Minnesota in what will be another crucial game for both teams playoff hopes.

Well swallow this, Peterson said. But I cant wait to see them again.

Marshall impressive to Vikings defense

Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall collected 12 receptions for 92 yards on Sunday, becoming the first Bears wideout since Marty Booker to go over 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

I think Brandon Marshall caught literally everything that was thrown to him, which was impressive, Allen said.

Marshall didnt have many huge gains, his longest catch was for 17 yards, but the sheer volume of balls he hauled in was back-breaking for the Vikings.

He has a great catch radius, Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield said. We were in position a few times with tight coverage and somehow the ball got in there and he came up with it. Hes a good player.

Balancing act for Bears

In the Monday night loss to San Francisco the Bears rushed for 85 yards, but only had 58 passing yards. Obviously those kind of offensive numbers wont win you many football games. But, in Sundays 28-10 win over the Vikings, the balance was back, as Chicago had 113 yards on the ground and 183 yards through the air.

Anytime you can be two-dimensional, its kind of hard to stop as a defense, Winfield said.

In a week that saw Chilo Rachal temporarily leave the team after being demoted for Chris Spencer, Gabe Carimi benched in favor of Jonathan Scott and Jay Cutler return to action, change was more of a theme than surprise.

They changed some protection things up, Allen said. We knew they were going to. You bench a guy and youre not going to just sit back there in five man protection and let people rush, especially when Jay Cutler is coming off of a head injury. So, hats off to them.

The Vikings watched Jason Campbell run the Bears offense on film against the 49ers, but instead faced off against Cutler on Sunday. So whats the biggest difference?

I think Cutler gets the ball out of his hands a lot quicker, Winfield said. He scrambles a lot more, buys time and hes not afraid to take chances. You can see Marshall in coverage and hes still throwing him the ball.

Slow start

Michael Bushs rush into the end zone, his second score of the game, with four minutes left in the second quarter hurt the Vikings. But the successful two-point conversion by holder Adam Podlesh was deflating, as it extended the Bears lead to 18-3.

We got chopped off at the head quick and that can break you down, Peterson said We continued to fight it just didnt go our way.

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was intercepted by Chris Conte on the next drive, setting up Cutlers 13-yard touchdown pass to Matt Spaeth, giving the Bears a 25-3 halftime lead.

The game got out of hand real early and we didnt really give ourselves a chance, Winfield said.

Ready for a rematch

Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway was adamant that Minnesota (6-5) was still in the playoff hunt, even following a 28-10 blowout loss to the Bears.

Were not panicking at all, Greenway said. We wanted this one really bad. This was a huge game for us. We need to take care of business in Green Bay and we need to take of business when Chicago is at our place. Thats just the way it has to be.

5 things we learned about the Cubs in June

5 things we learned about the Cubs in June

As the Cubs get ready to open up a four-game series against the New York Mets on Thursday night, don't expect a magician in Citi Field’s visiting clubhouse, despite a few obvious parallels to last season.

The Cubs were also in New York on the final day of June in 2015, coming off arguably their worst stretch of the season (when they lost five straight to the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals). This summer, the Cubs have responded to their biggest speed bump – losing six of seven games to the Cardinals and Miami Marlins last week – by sweeping the Cincinnati Reds out of Great American Ball Park in a wildly eventful three-game series.

It's a little bit of deja vu for the Mets, too, as they are searching for an offensive identity for the second straight summer, just as the Cubs come into town. The Cubs will enter July with at least 51 wins and a share of the best record in baseball, now just a few percentage points separating them and the red-hot Texas Rangers.

Let's take a look at five things we learned about the Cubs in June:

1. They're not unstoppable.

Joe Maddon claims he doesn't believe in June swoons, but the Cubs just fought through their worst month of the season. But with a win Thursday, they will be 17-11 in June – only one game off May's pace (18-10 record).

The run differential (plus-170) is still almost double the next-closest team (Cleveland Indians at plus-91). Of course, the run differential soars while playing the Reds. The Cubs have scored 87 runs in those 10 games, or 21.1 percent of their runs for the season (412).

Also worth noting, this losing stretch coincided with a slew of injuries that included leadoff guy Dexter Fowler, role player Tommy La Stella and Jorge Soler, who had just started heating up before landing on the disabled list.

2. Kris Bryant is a superstar.

Bryant was already enjoying a pretty solid sophomore campaign before the series in Cincinnati, but he exploded for the best offensive game in franchise history on Monday night, and then added three more hits, two walks, an RBI and a pair of runs scored in the final two games at Great American Ball Park.

For June, Bryant enters play Thursday with a 1.058 OPS and is now on pace for 44 homers, 122 RBI and 128 runs scored with a .931 season OPS. 

Oh yeah, and over the past calendar year, he's leading the National League in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) – and ranking fourth in Major League Baseball – ahead of even 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper.

There's no sophomore slump for Bryant, and at the age of 24, he continues to get better. With only 225 big-league games under his belt, he's already one of the best players in the league.

3. They absolutely need more bullpen help.

After a 2.72 bullpen ERA in April, Cubs relievers have posted ERAs of 3.80 and 3.93 in May and June, respectively.

Even elite closer Hector Rondon has struggled, blowing all three of his saves on the season over the last two weeks and allowing three of the five earned runs he's given up in 2016 in June.

Justin Grimm has a 5.79 ERA on the season and Adam Warren had allowed 13 runs over his last 17.2 innings before going down to the minor leagues to stretch out as a starter.

The Cubs are still searching for another left-handed arm in the bullpen. (Travis Wood is effective against both righties and lefties and serves as one of the long men in the bullpen.) The Cubs would also like another potentially dominant reliever to help take some of the load off Pedro Strop and Rondon at the back end of the bullpen.

4. This really is a great situation for young players.

The Cubs promoted two of their top prospects in June, and Willson Contreras and Albert Almora both hit the ground running.

Contreras has played three different positions and has posted a 1.067 OPS and 10 RBI in 12 games, while Almora is hitting .286 with a .776 OPS and hit his first big-league home run on Wednesday in Cincinnati.

The two rookies joined a list that includes Bryant, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber as young players who came up to the big-league level and flourished amid a contending squad.

Maddon and his coaching staff help create an environment where every player can feel comfortable.

5. The starting rotation couldn't keep that up forever. 

While Jon Lester continues to roll, Jake Arrieta has looked human in June with a 3.54 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. John Lackey carried a hot streak into the month before allowing 10 earned runs in 10.1 innings against the Cardinals and Marlins.

The Cubs still lead baseball by a wide margin with a 2.54 rotation ERA (almost a full run better than the Mets' 3.30 mark), but there's a different look about this pitching staff when Arrieta is struggling with his command and the bullpen is searching for consistency.

To be clear, those are still excellent numbers. Just not the video-game stats the pitching staff was putting up in the first two months of the season.

Get to know Bears rookie Jordan Howard

Get to know Bears rookie Jordan Howard

Meet Jordan Howard.

Selected by the Chicago Bears in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL draft, the 6-foot, 230-pound running back out of Indiana rushed for 1,213 yards and nine touchdowns on 196 carries for the Hoosiers in 2015.

Howard is a physical offensive weapon who is sure to give Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey a run for their money come training camp in August. But before the rookie suits up in Bourbonnais, get the chance to know what he's all about off of the field. 

Howard is featured in the final segment of "Meet the Rookies," a four-part series on ChicagoBears.com that chronicles the inspirational stories of the team's newest additions. The other rookies featured in the series are outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, wide receiver Daniel Braverman and tight end Ben Braunecker.
 
Catch Howard's segment of "Meet the Rookies" here.
 

Cubs' Dexter Fowler hit in leg with bat by power-swinging toddler

Cubs' Dexter Fowler hit in leg with bat by power-swinging toddler

On this edition of Chicago's Funniest Home Videos, Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler is all smiles after being hit in the leg by a power-swinging toddler.

Fowler, who is currently on the disabled list with a right hamstring injury, posted the video of an impromptu batting practice that broke out with his neighbors and a young left-handed prospect named Kellen.

Take a look for yourself and insert your own Bob Saget play-by-play voice.

Hilarious!

For those hardcore fans who are concerned with Fowler's health, it's all good, the 30-year-old was lightly struck in the left leg by a soft NERF bat and did not appear to be in any serious pain.

Although Kellen missed on his initial swing in the video, we're certain his swing will continue to develop over time. A few more training sessions with Fowler, who currently leads all National League outfielders in MLB All-Star votes, should only enhance his potential of becoming a real home run threat down the road. And who knows, maybe we'll see the young fellow suiting up for the Cubbies one day.