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Twelve musings past midnight from Minneapolis

Things that pop into your mind during a postgame trip back to the hotel:

1. Its fair to say that Kyle Orton was not put in the best position to succeed with a hapless running game to lean on against the leagues top-ranked run defense. Remember, he had a productive Thomas Jones with him the last time he played. But heres a question to ponderdo the Bears win the game here if Brian Griese is the quarterback?

Needing to see what Orton can do made sense, but did he really provide the best opportunity to win? Would a veteran like Griese have been able to handle some of the situations a little better? The offense didnt manage a first down until its sixth possession, and there were six three-and-punts. When you manage four takeaways and the opponent misses an extra point, you should win the game. Every time.

2. Another point to pondergood thing Lance Briggs didnt injure his groin muscle until the fourth quarter. The Pro Bowl linebacker left the field with an ice pack. He jumped the gun claiming to have hit the 75 percent threshold necessary to prevent the Bears from placing the franchise tag on him last week at Washington. Briggs missed 1 1/2 games earlier this season, and so he needed to play in a full 12 games to ensure hell be on the mark. He did so tonight. Briggs visited with agent Drew Rosenhaus as he walked off the field. Considering the injury, could it be the final time he wears a Bears uniform?

3. If the Bears are going to pull the plug on Terrence Metcalf after five starts, would it make more sense to see what they have in Anthony Oakley instead of playing John St. Clair? Theyve seen St. Clair in action and hes a valuable man to have around because he can literally play everywhere on the line, even center in a pinch. Oakley hasnt shown a thing in two years because he hasnt been on the field. Ditto fourth-round pick Josh Beekman. But seeing Oakley should be a higher priority.

4. Powerful agent Tom Condon was at the game as well. His client Bob Sanders is going to be a free agent if the Colts dont slap the franchise tag on him. Wouldnt he look good in a Bears uniform? Strong safety Brandon McGowan was one of four Bears defenders who whiffed on Robert Fergusons 71-yard reception that set up the Vikings first touchdown. He also appeared to take a bad angle on Adrian Petersons go-ahead touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Condon is in the running to represent Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan. Dare to dream. By the way, keep dreaming on Sanders. Hell get tagged just as Dwight Freeney did.

5. Mark Anderson looked awful dejected on the sideline with his left knee wrapped in ice. If he has to miss any time, Alex Brown will finally get a return to the starting lineup. Brown will have the opportunity to show the team and the 31 other teams how wrong the decision was to promote Anderson over him.

6. Brian Urlachers balky lower back sure looked a lot better. With two sacks, a pick and a fumble recovery, the one with short answers would have been hailed a hero had the offense done a little more. Whenever you talk to scouts from opposing teams and ask them about Urlachers play this season, inevitably they all say this: “Well, Id love to have him on my team.

7. Wheres Jerry? General manager Jerry Angelo has been keeping a low profile of late, much harder to locate than even during the 2003 season when it wound to an end and you knew Dick Jauron and his staff were getting the heave-ho. There are questions Angelo needs to provides answers to.

8. If the Bears were hoping to catch Green Bay this Sunday when the game meant little to the Packers, think again. While they have already clinched a playoff spot and a first-round bye, the Packers need to gain just one game on Dallas in the final two weeks to secure the No. 1 seed. Early lines had Green Bay as a seven-point favorite.

9. Rookie Nick Roach got the call on special teams for the first time since being claimed off San Diegos practice squad last month. He delivered two tackles and could have a bright future.

10. Think tight end John Gilmore is headed elsewhere in free agency now after being inactive?

11. There will be plenty of questions about the play-action pass to fullback Jason McKie on the fourth-and-one play in the third quarter. Theyre warranted. But how about this alignment in the fourth quarterfacing third-and-nine from the Vikings 39 Orton was in the shotgun with three wide receivers on the field. The three? Mark Bradley, Rashied Davis and Devin Hester. Trailing by seven with 7:39 to play, this was must convert. Pick up the first down and youre at midfield. Where in the world were Muhsin Muhammad, your best possession target for a play like this, or Bernard Berrian? Is it just me or are we being force fed a look at Bradley?

12. All needs considered, what are the odds at this point that the Bears do not draft an offensive tackle in the first round? Thats provided Angelo doesnt trade down into the second round. Just asking.