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Bears blow out Vikings, who fall to 1-5 amid QB controversy

CHICAGO -- In losing four of their first five games, the Minnesota Vikings kept the games close.

After getting blown out by the Bears, changes may be upcoming for the Vikings.

Devin Hester set the tone with a 48-yard touchdown catch and scored on a career-best 98-yard kickoff return before leaving with a chest injury, and the Chicago Bears routed the Vikings 39-10 on Sunday night.

The Bears (3-3) held Vikings star Adrian Peterson to 39 yards rushing and forced Minnesota to throw the ball on nearly every down after jumping to a big early lead.

"They did a good job of having eight men in the box," Peterson said. "It was clear that they were going to focus on stopping the run and make us one-dimensional. They were able to do that tonight."

Donovan McNabb completed 19 of 24 passes for 177 yards, but was sacked five times and was replaced by rookie Christian Ponder late in the game.

"We're all upset but the thing you can't do is harp on the situation," McNabb said. "You just watch the film and make sure you're back on the same page and possibly fixing things the next week."

Ponder, Minnesota's first-round pick, threw for 99 yards in his NFL debut and showed mobility against the Bears' pass rush, but was unable to lead the offense to any points.

After the game, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was asked if it might be time for a change at quarterback.

"We're going to sit down on Monday and talk about a lot of things," Frazier said. "Decide on what direction we're going to go."

When asked if he expected to start next Sunday against the Packers, McNabb simply said, "Absolutely."

Ponder is planning to stick to his normal routine.

"It's the first time I've played, but I don't know what's going happen next week," Ponder said. "I'm just going to take it as a regular week and keep preparing as if I'm going to play."

Hester's 48-yard TD pass from Jay Cutler on Chicago's first possession got the Bears started quickly as they grabbed a 26-3 halftime lead.

Hester's kickoff return early in the third quarter erased any chance the Vikings (1-5) had at a comeback.

"You feel you're getting ready to come back, and that kickoff return really changed the momentum," Frazier said.

Minnesota trimmed the lead to 26-10 after recovering Cutler's fumble, only to see Hester dash up the right side of the field on the ensuing kickoff.

"We felt like we kind of turned things our way," McNabb said. "The energy felt like it was over on our sideline. When you watch Devin Hester run it back, it takes a lot out of you."

It's no secret that teams invite trouble by kicking to Hester, and Minnesota paid a big price right after Peterson scored on a 4-yard run.

Hester took the kickoff, turned to his right and was touched maybe once on the way to the end zone, making it 33-10. It was his first kickoff return for a touchdown since Nov. 25, 2007, against Denver.

"The shocking part to us is that people still kick to him because he is such a threat," Cutler said.

Cutler, meanwhile, had all the time he needed and - for one game, anyway - avoided taking major punishment.

Never mind that Jared Allen was lining up for the Vikings, the Bears' maligned blockers held their ground.

That allowed Cutler to complete 21 of 31 passes while being sacked just once.

"They did a lot of chipping on Jared (Allen) early on," Frazier said. "We didn't win the one-on-ones at other positions that I was able to see. If they're going to bring a tight end or somebody else over to chip him, that leaves someone else one on one. We just weren't able to win those one on ones tonight."

The Bears looked particularly good in the early going, piling on 151 yards to the Vikings' 43 while building a 16-3 lead in the first quarter.

Two plays after Adam Podlesh pinned the Vikings on their 5 with a punt, rookie Stephen Paea broke through the line for his first sack and the Bears' first safety since Danieal Manning got one on Aaron Rodgers at Green Bay on September 2009.

Chicago drove 56 yards with Marion Barber running it in from the 3 to make it 16-0 with 3:39 left in the opening quarter.

There were no missteps by the Bears early on.

A defense that came in ranked 29th overall and 28th against the run was all over the Vikings.

The offensive line did its job, too. And the Bears were playing like a team that wasn't ready to fall into a last-place tie with Minnesota.

"We really didn't play well in any phase tonight," Frazier said. "Just a disappointing night for our football team."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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