Week 12 Report Card: Better all around
Week 12 Report Card: Chicago Bears 28, Minnesota Vikings 10
The production wasn't as important as the club's intent and commitment to establishing the run. Sure, the Bears averaged 2.9 yards per attempt throughout the day. But the club ran the ball 39 times, which allowed it to dominate time of possession by 15 minutes; that's right, an entire quarter. That type of commitment to the run also opened up the passing game, in addition to slowing down the Vikings' pass rush.
As receiver Brandon Marshall said, quarterback Jay Cutler "was on fire" and completed 15 of 17 passes to start the gam, but that accuracy didn't last. Perhaps the injuries along the offensive line played a role in that. Still, the offensive line put together a solid outing despite losing two starters, and gave up only one sack (the result of Cutler tripping). Earl Bennett's involvement early on might have been one of the most important developments in the passing game. By making teams respect receivers not named Marshall, the Bears can have their way with opponents.
The Bears allowed their third 100-yard rusher in four games, but Adrian Peterson's 108 yards on 18 attempts wound up being pretty insignificant in the grand scheme, because his overall impact wasn't meaningful. Peterson averaged six yards per attempt on the day. But most of his production came in the second half with the Bears leading comfortably. When it counted, Chicago stuffed Peterson and forced him to fumble twice. The Bears never let him get going early on, which proved important. At halftime, Peterson had run for 25 yards on seven attempts.
The Bears picked off a pass and sacked Christian Ponder twice, as the quarterback produced a passer rating of 58.2. So Chicago held its own against the pass. Minnesota's leading receiver -- tight end Kyle Rudolph -- caught just five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. Of Ponder's 42 passes, just 22 found their way into the hands of Minnesota's receivers. Safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright also deserve some credit for bouncing back from a shaky night on Monday night in the loss at San Francisco.
Minnesota managed to block a Robbie Gould field goal, but the Bears cancelled that out by virtue of Julius Peppers blocking the 12th field goal of his career. Chicago also gets credit for successfully executing on a two-point conversion run by punter Adam Podlesh. Despite the blocked attempt, Gould connected on field goals of 47 and 46 yards. The kickoff coverage team allowed 22.3 yards per return, while Eric Weems averaged 21.7 yards on his three returns.
Coming off a lopsided loss with a short week to prepare, the Bears identified the weaknesses on the offensive line, made difficult decisions and corrected the issues there, which provided Cutler a chance to put together a strong outing in his return. Defensively, the Bears basically stuffed the NFL's top rusher in Peterson just six days after letting the 49ers average 4.1 yards per attempt, and returned to their habit of forcing takeaways.