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Columnist
New math tells same old story
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 12/1/2008 12:06 AM

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MINNEAPOLIS - The math is uncomplicated: 0 minus 99 equals defeat.

More specifically, it factors out to the Bears' 34-14 loss to the Vikings here Sunday night.

Leading 7-3 in the second quarter, the Bears failed to manage a single yard in four tries at the Minnesota goal line.

One play later the Vikings went 99 yards on a pass from Gus Frerotte to former Bears wide receiver Bernard Berrian.

Game, set, overmatch.

"That turned the whole game around," Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said.

Everything else was trivial. All that mattered were those five plays - the four the Bears didn't execute and the one the Vikings did.

So forget Minnesota's 86-yard drive near the end of the first half that extended the Bears' deficit to 10 points.

Forget that after throwing 206 passes without an interception, Kyle Orton threw 3 in the second half that led to the Vikings' final 17 points.

Forget that Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson was a beast again, running over and around and through Bears defenders.

Just remember that 0 minus 99 equals defeat.

"It's amazing what a shift in momentum can do," Lovie Smith said.

The Bears head coach acknowledged that "you probably don't deserve to win" if you can't punch the ball in from a yard out.

Smith didn't have to add that a team probably doesn't deserve to win if it can't prevent a 99-yard TD pass.

Certainly no team deserves to win if it's guilty of both sins.

Even if the Bears' played better defense the rest of the night, its performance would have been overwhelmed by that one play.

As Berrian streaked his way to a TD, the play was almost surreal, as if in slow motion, one man playing a game by himself.

An otherwise commendable performance by Bears running back Matt Forte was obscured by two of those four plays in which he couldn't get into the end zone.

As the Vikings stopped the Bears, that also seemed surreal - only in fast-forward, so much hope doused in such sudden fashion.

Listen, the Bears simply aren't good enough - repeat after me - simply aren't good enough to squander opportunities.

If the Bears have first-and-goal at the 1-yard line and fail to get it in, they can't score enough other points to win.

Meanwhile, if the Bears have the Vikings backed against their own goal line and give up a 99-yard touchdown - well, they especially aren't potent enough to score enough points to win.

Those represent wasted chances to win a game, just as this game represents a wasted chance to win a division.

A victory essentially would have given the Bears a 2-game lead in the NFC North - 1 game and tiebreaker over the Vikings, and 2 full games over the Packers.

Not that the Bears (6-6) are out of anything as they trail the Vikings (7-5) by a game with four remaining.

The same defensive line that stuffed the Bears at the goal line is in danger of losing its famed Williams Wall.

Vikings defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams are awaiting word on a possible suspension for using a substance banned by the NFL.

So it ain't over, folks, but the Bears will have to indicate this month that they have a better grasp of football mathematics.

mimrem@dailyherald.com