A Boatload of Fun Bears Use All-Around Effort to Crush Sinking Vikings

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Byline: Bob LeGere Daily Herald Sports Writer

A valiant effort from a running back who wasn't supposed to play, interceptions by a pair of maligned defensive backs and a punt return that broke the cardinal rule helped the Bears move into first place in the NFC North.

Some controversial criticism earlier in the week from Bears safety Mike Brown might have helped their cause, too.

The Bears sailed past the scandal-plagued Vikings 28-3 Sunday in front of 62,143 sun-drenched fans, hoisting their record to 2-3, the same as the Lions, whom they defeated 38-6 in Week 2.

"We needed it," said Bears running back Thomas Jones, who scored on runs of 24 and 1 yard. "We dropped a couple games in a row, and we needed to win at home."

The penalty-prone Vikings, many of whom are under investigation for last week's boat party that allegedly involved lewd behavior, sunk to 1-4 and into a tie with the Packers for last place in the NFC North.

Jones was reported in some circles to be out for two games with a sprained right knee that can take up to 3-4 weeks to heal. But a heavy rehab schedule and a boatload of determination helped him rush for 89 yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 carries. He just missed a fourth straight 100-yard game, which would have been his sixth in the last seven, but the victory was reward enough.

"I didn't feel like I was at 100 percent," said Jones, "but it was a division game that we wanted to win. When you're thinking about the game more than your injury, it helps you get through."

That, a week of ice therapy, electric stimulation and light weight lifting, and then finally a pregame injection to numb his pain, helped Jones carry the Bears' running game.

"If that's what it takes to get out there," said Jones, who has 502 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. "I love the guys on this offense, the offensive line. They're all great guys. I like being out there. I don't like being on the sidelines."

The Bears outrushed their opponent for the fourth straight week, despite missing starting left tackle John Tait and left guard Ruben Brown, who were replaced by John St. Clair and Roberto Garza, respectively.

The Bears' sluggish offense (just 192 total yards) needed everything Jones could give, along with help from special teams, the defense and the Vikings. When the offense was presented opportunities, however, it capitalized. …