So that game effectively resulted in the end of the Bears' meaningful season, eliminated from the playoff chase with two games remaining. Things would have needed to go basically perfectly for the Bears to make it to the playoffs at this point; the last two weeks would have been a good time to make some more solid playoff ground, but, well, we know how those games went.
If anything, it was a refreshing departure from the losses of the last couple weeks, as this one didn't have a missed field goal leaving us all wondering what might have been. No, instead, it was a swift, merciful, brutal destruction that reminded the Bears however far they think they came in keeping games close and competitive, they aren't at a serious level of competitiveness just yet.
The defense basically let the Vikings do whatever they wanted to, displaying an inability to find Stefon Diggs or Jerick McKinnon with a road map, a search party and a flashlight. The offense couldn't get out of its own way; when the offensive line wasn't letting rushers through, Jay Cutler was holding the ball and taking a sack himself or lobbing a screen into the waiting arms of a defensive lineman. Between sacks and penalties, the Bears were continually fighting against the sticks the entire game - as was discussed last week, this is not conducive to winning offensive football.
You kind of knew when the Bears took the opening kickoff to the 50, but had the first snap of the game called back on a holding penalty and punted after 3rd and 25, things weren't going to go well. The Vikings took their first drive for 13 plays and 93 yards; what Peterson wasn't running into the line was tossed short and controlled by Teddy Bridgewater, Bridgewater found Kyle Rudolph for a 12-yard first down, then on 3rd and 4 found McKinnon for 25 yards to push into Chicago territory. Lamarr Houston gave the Vikings a first down with an offside penalty, and Bridgewater found Diggs 15 yards out to take the early lead.
The next drive for the Bears was short and uneventful, as Cutler was wrapped up and dragged down by his throwing arm, and the Bears were immediately forced to punt. On 2nd and 8 on the next drive, Bridgewater again found McKinnon for 30 yards; after a sack by Willie Young, Blair Walsh knocked home a 53-yarder to make it 10-0.
The Bears found a little rushing offense of their own as Jeremy Langford picked up 16 on three plays, then later on 3rd and 5, Cutler found Marc Mariani for 14 yards to push into Vikings territory. Cutler was promptly sacked for nine yards and the Bears were forced again to punt. After holding the Vikings to a three-and-out, the Bears followed with a ten-yard strike to Jeffery in the end zone on the back-side of a route, his lone reception on the day.
The Vikings immediately followed with an 8-play, 80-yard drive for a touchdown; Bridgewater found Mike Wallace between Shea McClellin and Chris Prosinski on play action for 34 yards to get down to the 20. On 3rd and 7, Bridgewater was sacked by Houston, who again was offside (offset against a holding penalty by Matt Kalil). The next play, Bridgewater dumped it to McKinnon before Demontre Hurst dove into his upper leg. The roughing the passer penalty was offset against McKinnon's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but the touchdown stood for a 17-7 lead.
Again, no timeouts taken by John Fox, who probably could have used them with 26 seconds left in the half, but the half ended on a Hail Mary attempt that fell short.
The Bears led the second half with a surprise onside kick, and converted a Robbie Gould onside kick for the first time ever. Of course, on the third play, Cutler was sacked by Brian Robison and fumbled to give the Vikings the ball, which was promptly converted six plays later to make the score 24-7. Bridgewater nailed Diggs from 33 yards out.
The next Bears drive went 15 plays... But at just a shade over 3.1 yards per play, that drive is going to eat a lot of time the Bears just don't have and won't go very far. Just 47 yards and 6:17 later, the Bears were knocking a field goal through. The Bears converted a 4th and 1 with a Forte dive, but after a deep incompletion to Josh Bellamy, Robbie Gould hit a 51-yard kick, snapping a three-miss streak.
After a couple of punts, Jay Cutler threw a pass over the line to Matt Forte - only it didn't make it to Forte or over the line, as Justin Trattou held off Kyle Long and snared a ball that should have been lofted higher over the line or not thrown at all.
The Vikings scored just three plays later, as Bridgewater ran in from 12 yards out for the score, but this time, the Bears answered back, as Cutler faked the rush attempt and tossed to Forte coming free, who ran in untouched. The next onside kick attempt, however, was the more expected result of "no." The Vikings put the exclamation point on the game with a touchdown toss to Zach Line; Matt Asiata picked up for an injured Adrian Peterson, who was in and out with an ankle injury, and barreled 19 yards to get to the 5 yard line, carrying Adrian Amos 10 yards. From there Line finished the job.
The Bears started pushing the ball downfield a bit in the final drive, but three scores down, the game quickly fizzled out.
- Chalk the game up to a lackluster effort on all sides, but the offensive line was an adventure in both pass and run blocking. Kyle Long continues to have his worst stretch as a pro; Hroniss Grasu continues to have his lack of strength and polish exploited; Charles Leno and Matt Slauson got beat on a textbook stunt, and especially on the second sack of the game, Cutler needs to recognize when a play just isn't going to materialize.
- Despite all that, Cutler had a decent statistical day, and the Bears pounded out 4.7 yards-per-carry on the ground. But the short passing game necessitated by a rough pass-block set prevented any decent ball movement. 4.7 yards per pass attempt doesn't quite work., when constantly in second and long or third and long thanks to a sack, a penalty, a tackle at the line of scrimmage, et cetera, and when you have a long, long field. I'm all for grinding out first downs, but in this game, it just wasn't going to go anywhere, and it's difficult when a defense can key on that and prevent anything deep, and also beat up the offensive line all day.
- I feel like the entire team needs a refresher on the basic rules of football - this is the line of scrimmage, do not cross it before the snap is made. Lamarr Houston could have had a decent day.
- I'm pretty sure the next tackle where a Bears player hits an opponent and plants him where he was will be the first. I think Asiata filled Amos with books before hitching him to his back like he was going to school. Shea McClellin got shrugged off a couple of times, Alan Ball and Chris Prosinski couldn't tackle on the second of Diggs' two touchdowns. Though, McClellin had a tackle for loss, and Young had two. That's something, I guess.
- Teddy Bridgewater didn't have to take many chances. The few he did take, he hit. It helps when defenders can't tackle. I love the look of the Bears rallying to make pre-snap adjustments, and letting Diggs come completely free on the shallow cross.
- A complete lack of pass rush will also help make a quarterback look good. Young picked up a sack and QB hit, and Hurst drew a penalty on his. The third was Jonathan Anderson coming in on a blitz. That's it.
- If Deonte Thompson is the guy going forward on kick returns, I'm fine with this. It was kind of nice having that little spark to start the game, even if it was short lived.
- Overall, the game really underscored the talent disparity between a building team and a contending team. It's something we'll get into as the season winds down, but the Bears went into the game facing a defense without three top playmakers, and their need for offensive linemen and playmakers was exposed. On the defensive side, they were simply exposed without a pass rush, without tackling, and without pass coverage.
I really don't have much more to add here, frankly - the Vikings controlled the clock, made plays to extend drives, ignored feeble tackle attempts, and delivered their highest scoring output of the season. The Bears didn't protect the passer, didn't protect the ball, didn't make plays to extend drives, didn't make big plays, and ended their season in a miserable fashion.
What are your thoughts from yesterday's loss?