LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -- The Chicago Bears' defense is finding it difficult to close out games and showing signs of some real wear and tear.
Playing without injured linebacker Brian Urlacher and with several other lineup changes, the Bears will have to find a way to turn it around Sunday against a Minnesota Vikings offense that can run opponents into the ground behind Adrian Peterson. A win would also help erase the sting of the 23-17 overtime loss to Seattle at Soldier Field last weekend.
"That locker room, I know a lot of guys left that field pretty (ticked) off and you want another opportunity like that because games like that you shouldn't allow to slip away," linebacker Lance Briggs said. "And we've done that more than once this year. We need to show up in the critical situations."
The Bears defense has failed on three of the last four attempts when handed an opportunity to close out a game. Tim Tebow also beat them last year in overtime after rallying the Broncos on their final drive of regulation.
With five 30-something players, the conditioning and stamina of the defense has been closely watched. They allowed Seattle to convert eight of 15 third downs, a season's worst 53 percent.
"Third downs are critical in this league, critical," Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "You've got to get off the field, because our offense does a nice job of controlling the clock. That's something we've been pretty good at through most of the year but that's something we have got to be on top of."
The Bears have also allowed seven scores in the closing 3
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