Notebook: Injuries to Berrian, Harvin cap rough trip for receivers
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CHICAGO -- This road trip was a forgettable one for the Minnesota Vikings' receivers.
It started on Saturday morning, when Sidney Rice told team officials he didn't feel ready to come off the reserve/physically unable to perform list and make his season debut.
It continued on Sunday morning, when Bernard Berrian -- depending whom you ask -- either tweaked his sore groin in warm-ups or simply determined shortly before kickoff he wasn't in condition to play.
By the time the Bears polished off their 27-13 runaway win, Rice, Berrian and Harvin were sitting together on the end of the bench, watching as Brett Favre tried in vain to direct the second-string perimeter group on the last of four consecutive failed drives.
The four receivers who played combined for 88 yards on six catches, four of them by Harvin. This, one week after Berrian joined Harvin with nine catches for a combined 215 yards in a comeback win over Arizona.
"I really felt like (Berrian) was on his way up, and all of a sudden, throw him the first pass in pregame and he goes down," Favre said. "So, all the reps that I got with him, as you look back, you would have liked to have gotten with someone else. But it wasn't to be, and had Bernard played, is the game different? I have no idea. I should have made a little better throw to Greg Camarillo, he scores, maybe that gives us four more points, who knows?"
The circumstances surrounding Berrian's nonparticipation remained clouded after the game.
He said little to reporters as he left the locker room but later disputed Favre's account on his Twitter account, writing that he's "played plenty (of) games injured. (You) just don't hear (a)bout it. (And) warmup had nothing (to) do (with) it."
The Vikings announced no starter change at the receiver position, leaving Berrian atop the depth chart. But Greg Lewis took the first snap along with Harvin as Berrian sat on the sideline, wearing his uniform but without a helmet.
Teams have up until 90 minutes before kickoff to declare their inactive list, so the Vikings presumably believed until shortly before kickoff that Berrian would play.
"He came with the intention that he was going to be able to play, or obviously, yeah, you would have another body that was up and ready to go," coach Brad Childress said. "Whether it was the conditions or he got tight, cold, tweaked it again -- I'm not exactly sure. He just said, 'I can't go.'"
It didn't make much difference in the early going, when Favre started 7-of-7 passing for 48 yards and the Vikings led 3-0. But things began to unravel offensively when Favre took an intentional grounding penalty with 12:14 left in the second quarter, backing up a 39-yard field-goal attempt Ryan Longwell clanked off the left upright.
From that point forward, Favre committed four turnovers and was 11-of-24 passing for 122 yards -- almost half of them on a 53-yard pass to Harvin against blown coverage for the Vikings' only touchdown.
Only two of the Vikings' other 10 drives over the final three quarters exceeded 16 net yards. One ended with a field goal after Camarillo couldn't handle Favre's third-quarter bullet, the other with a fourth-quarter interception when tight end Visanthe Shiancoe lost his footing trying to adjust to a pass that appeared to be thrown behind him.
Favre said he'd never thrown to Camarillo on that route before -- another nod to the effect of revolving parts that's plagued the Vikings passing game all season. The Bears also capitalized on a slip by halfback Adrian Peterson and a tipped ball to finish with three interceptions.
"They came in, it seemed to me, with the mindset that they were going to play Cover-2, which is basically daring you to run the ball, and there's tight windows to throw in," Favre said. "We were just taking what they were giving us early, and then we know what happened."
Another Favre injury
Already playing with two left foot/ankle fractures, a stitched-up chin and tendinitis in his throwing elbow, Favre told ESPN his throwing shoulder is acting up now, too.
The pain began when Favre was putting on a T-shirt at practice on Saturday, and he considered taking a pain-killing injection before Sunday's game, ESPN reported.
Favre didn't make any reference to the injury during his postgame news conference, in which he repeatedly said he remains happy with his decision to play a 20th NFL season. He finished 18-of-31 passing for 170 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown pass to Percy Harvin, with three interceptions and a 44.5 passer rating.
Harvin reinjured the same ankle he first hurt Oct. 31 at New England when he got caught up in a pile on a kick return with 8:29 to go.
"Same spot," Childress said. "All the things that are going on with that. He tweaked it."
Harvin was limping on his way to the locker room and didn't speak with reporters other than to say he had to go to the trainer's room.
Despite the injury and missing nearly the entire practice week with migraine headaches, Harvin once again led the team with 64 receiving yards and a touchdown on four receptions.
Sullivan, who has missed several stretches since the start of camp with calf injuries, "kind of felt something pop in there and thought maybe he was going to be able to get it loose and back up, but it just wasn't to be," Childress said. "Jon Cooper jumped in there and did a decent job, I thought."
On his walk from the locker room to the team plane, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf told ESPN he isn't considering firing Childress this week.
Wilf and Childress shook hands and spoke briefly near midfield during pregame warm-ups. After the loss, Childress said he expects to be the coach next weekend against Green Bay.
"Until I get told any differently, yeah," Childress said.
On a play that gave the Bears three points, Harvin saved four more.
Israel Idonije got pressure upfield against left tackle Bryant McKinnie and tipped Favre's swing pass for Harvin, who had been aligned to Favre's left in a shotgun formation.
Cornerback D.J. Moore caught the batted pass in stride and would have walked into the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown had Harvin not recognized the situation and tripped him up.
Longwell's first miss
Ryan Longwell's perfect season is over.
After hitting a 36-yard field goal in the first quarter, Longwell hit the left upright from 39 in the second -- his first missed field goal in 10 attempts this season, and his first in game action since last Dec. 20 at Carolina.
Winds were gusting close to 30 mph, and the flags atop Soldier Field changed direction often. Bears kicker Robbie Gould missed his only first-half attempt from 43 yards -- bailing out the Vikings after end Henry Melton stripped Favre and recovered the ball with 16 seconds left in the first half.
Longwell did bounce back to hit a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter in the north end zone, where he'd hit the earlier attempt. His only other missed place-kick this season was a blocked extra point in the season opener Sept. 9 at New Orleans.
• Julius Peppers, who gave McKinnie fits last December in Carolina, split time on both sides of the line and finished with four solo tackles and only one quarterback hit.
Childress said Rice (hip surgery) made the call on Saturday that he wasn't ready for action. "We went through (Saturday) morning to see how he came back from Friday's practice," Childress said. "I'm not going to say we went to the 3 o'clock deadline but we had our mock game yesterday morning and just talked to him. He didn't feel like he was able to go yet." Rice declined comment.
• The Vikings wore purple pants for a second consecutive week, this time with their white road tops. It's believed to be the first time they've worn that combination since 2006.