Brad Childress says he sleeps well after a tough defeat.

Well, if he slept well on Sunday night after his Vikings handed the Bears a 48-41 victory -- when host Chicago turned four interceptions, a blocked punt and a muffed punt return into three touchdowns -- he is a lot stronger-willed than any coach I have known in my long career.

This team has gained a reputation of beating itself, both this season and last year, and did it again Sunday at Soldier Field.

The good teams don't make the errors this team does. And even though the Vikings are only one game out of first place in the NFC North, they must find a way to correct these errors, or they will miss the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year.

Maybe the bye this week will give Childress and the coaching staff an opportunity to get the players to concentrate a little more and quit making one error after another.

The plays that killed the Vikings on Sunday were punter Chris Kluwe fumbling the snap and getting his punt blocked, with Garrett Wolfe returning it for a 17-yard touchdown; punt returner Charles Gordon muffing a punt that was recovered by Chicago's Zackary Bowman in the end zone; and Bears safety Kevin Payne returning one of Gus Frerotte's interceptions 50 yards to the Vikings 6-yard line, resulting in a Matt Forte 1-yard TD run.

Chalk up another negative when, seconds before halftime, Chicago kicker Robbie Gould was set to try a 53-yard field goal -- after a drive that took the Bears only 22 seconds to get into scoring position -- when Vikings defensive lineman Fred Evans was called for encroachment. Gould gained 5 yards and converted on a 48-yard kick.

The result was very disappointing, especially considering that outside of the four interceptions, the Vikings finally got their offense going following last week's dismal performance at home against the Lions. The Bears were handed three easy touchdowns Sunday, and that was enough to make them a winner.

Offense had big edge

The Vikings gained a total of 439 yards on offense Sunday, compared to 327 by Chicago; they had 155 rushing yards to the Bears' 53 (after a 69-8 edge in the first half); ran 74 plays to 56 for the winners and won the time of possession 35:07 to 24:53.

While Frerotte had the four interceptions, he did complete 25 of 40 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked twice after getting sacked five times last week against Detroit. He now has been sacked 13 times in five games this season.

The special teams avoided letting Devin Hester do much damage on his two kickoff returns. But the Vikings also avoided kicking deep completely on their first two kickoffs, and Chicago started near midfield and scored on both of those possessions. The Vikings were helped after Hester left the game in the third quarter because of a quadriceps muscle injury.

At least there's probably an NFL coach who might feel worse than Childress today, Dallas' Wade Phillips, who might be in danger of being fired after back-to-back losses at Arizona last week and St. Louis on Sunday. I'm convinced that Childress isn't in danger of losing his job, because he is a good coach and still has a chance to win the division.

One of these days, this Vikings team will play up to its ability and quit giving games away. That could start against the Texans the week after the bye.

Purdue next for U

The Purdue football team might be struggling this year, but the Boilermakers are 7-0 at home since 1990 against the Gophers. Purdue is 8-1 against the Gophers since coach Joe Tiller arrived in West Lafayette from Wyoming in 1997.

In losing 48-26 on the road to a much-improved Northwestern team on Saturday, the Boilermakers offense put up 466 yards but turned the ball over five times, with three interceptions to go along with a pair of fumbles. The Purdue offense had scored only one touchdown in 10 quarters until running back Kory Sheets scored on a 2-yard run with 1:09 left in the second quarter Saturday.

On the other side of the ball, Purdue gave up a total of 451 yards to the Wildcats, including 191 on the ground.

Gophers coach Tim Brewster -- back from a trip to see son Nolan Brewster play in top-ranked Texas' 56-31 victory over Missouri on Saturday -- said Purdue's 2-5 record doesn't mean a thing to him.

"I've got tremendous respect for Joe Tiller," Brewster said Sunday of his opposing coach, who is retiring after this season. "He's an amazing coach, he's done a great job at Purdue and that football team, right now it's a little bit of a wounded animal.

"Everybody knows that's an extremely dangerous game to go in their back yard. They're going to be playing for Joe, and a lot of emotion is going to be part of that game. So we've just got to do our part and get ready."

Brewster said the Gophers' bye came at just the right time, both for health reasons and for academics.

"Without question, it came at a perfect time, and I think our team is going to come back extremely refreshed," he said. "... It was a great opportunity for our players to totally focus on being a student at the University of Minnesota. That's so important, I just believe that it's the right thing to have a bye. We haven't had a bye to this point in the Big Ten, and it's just these kids need a break at this particular point in the season as we move forward."

Meanwhile, Gophers receiver Eric Decker was named to the 2008 midseason All-America team by College Football News. And GoldenSports.net reported that Kendall Gregory McGhee, a 6-4, 220-pound player from Aurora (Colo.) Cherokee Trail High School, has said he will play for the Gophers.

"It's truly amazing right now, the positivity that we're getting in the state of Minnesota, across the nation," Brewster said. "We had coaches in California, Texas, Florida, we were all over the state of Minnesota before we left, and there's a lot of buzz out there about the Gophers.

"And that's so exciting, you know, to have people talking about the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Like I said, we've got a team meeting tonight and I think all of us are going to be awful excited about getting back to work tomorrow."

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com