MINNEAPOLIS, NOV. 25 -- Jim Harbaugh never got the number of the train that hit him today.

Asked to assess the play of Minnesota linebacker Mike Merriweather, the Chicago quarterback said: "Which one was he?"

He was the one who made 12 tackles, had 1 1/2 sacks, forced two fumbles -- one by Harbaugh -- and scored on a fumble return as the Vikings dominated the Bears 41-13.

Said Harbaugh: "They had a lot of guys playing good today."

Harbaugh's inability to identify the culprit was understandable. The Vikings sacked him seven times for 41 yards and held Chicago's league-leading rushing attack -- which romped for 215 yards in a 19-16 victory over Minnesota Sept. 23 -- to 107 yards. The Bears had been averaging 170 rushing yards per game.

"Everybody just did their jobs," said Merriweather, who gave the Vikings a 41-3 third-quarter lead when he ripped the ball from Neal Anderson and went 33 yards for the score. "I don't want to tell on myself, but I was trying to do too much last time {the teams played}. This week it was emphasized that everyone should concentrate on their own assignments."

The Vikings (5-6) have won four straight since ending a five-game losing streak that started with that loss to Chicago and are trying to make the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

"They'll be tough from here on out," said Coach Mike Ditka, whose Bears (9-2) will have to wait at least another week to clinch their sixth NFC Central title in seven years. "We gave them a lot of confidence and I'll be surprised if they are not in the playoffs."

Minnesota looked like the team that led the league in defense in 1988 and 1989. The Vikings held Anderson, who entered the game as the NFL's sixth-leading rusher with 758 yards, to 48. Meanwhile, Chicago's defense -- ranked fifth in the league -- didn't force a punt until six minutes into the second half.

"Every time I had the ball," Anderson said, "there were quite a few of them around me."

The Vikings had plenty of offensive heroes too. They scored on all six first-half possessions in posting their most decisive victory over the Bears since a 35-7 win in 1982.

Rich Gannon finished the first half with nine straight completions, three for touchdowns. In so doing, he kept the job he inherited from injured Wade Wilson. Wilson was activated today but didn't play until 4:12 remained. Vikings Coach Jerry Burns named Gannon the starter next week against Green Bay.

Gannon (12 of 19, 146 yards) completed one of his first five passes as Minnesota settled for Fuad Reveiz's field goals of 41 and 45 yards on its first two possessions. But Gannon got hot and threw touchdown passes of 17 yards to Herschel Walker, five to Hassan Jones and 22 to Anthony Carter.

Walker carried 16 times for 58 yards, including a two-yard touchdown run that gave the Vikings a 13-0 first-quarter lead, and had a 68-yard kickoff return.

"Once the truck hit me, I did not bother getting up," Ditka said. "I just lay there and watched."

Chicago 0 3 7 3 13 Minnesota 13 21 7 0 41 FIRST QUARTER

Minnesota: FG Reveiz 41, 1:34.

Minnesota: FG Reveiz 45, 3:45.

Minnesota: Walker 2 run (Reveiz kick), 11:05.


Minnesota: Walker 17 pass from Gannon (Reveiz kick), 2:26.

Minnesota: H. Jones 5 pass from Gannon (Reveiz kick), 6:45.

Chicago: FG Butler 41, 11:41.

Minnesota: A. Carter 22 pass from Gannon (Reveiz kick), 14:10.


Minnesota: Merriweather 33 fumble return (Reveiz kick), 2:31.

Chicago: Green 10 pass from Harbaugh (Butler kick), 12:33.


Chicago: FG Butler 43, 10:42.

Attendance: 58,866

Bears Vikings First downs 19 20 Rushes-yards 29-107 32-101 Passing yards 159 145 Return yards 24 36 Passing 20-31-0 12-19-0 Sacked-yards lost 7-41 1-1 Punts-average 3-47 3-38 Fumbles-lost 4-3 0-0 Penalties-yards 8-61 4-20 Time of possession 33:56

Chicago: N. Anderson 17-48, Muster 8-43, Green 2-17, Gentry 1-2, Bailey 1-minus 3.

Minnesota: Walker 16-58, Gannon 3-19, A.Anderson 9-16, Dozier 1-4, Smith 1-2, Wilson 2-2. PASSING

Chicago: Harbaugh 17-26-0, 157 yards, Tomczak 3-5-0, 43.

Minnesota: Gannon 12-19-0, 146 yards. RECEIVING

Chicago: N. Anderson 7-57, Davis 6-76, Muster 3-26, Green 3-25, Morris 1-16.

Minnesota: H. Jones 3-39, C. Carter 2-26, Jordan 2-24, A. Anderson 2-9, A. Carter 1-22, Walker 1-17, Lewis

Chicago: Butler 41.