Week 14 Report Card: Too many lapses
Week 14 Report Card: Minnesota Vikings 21, Chicago Bears 14
It's probably shocking to read here right now that the Bears averaged 6.6 yards per attempt against the Vikings. But it's true. The problem was the Bears couldn't run the ball as much as they probably would have liked because they played from behind the entire game. Matt Forte averaged 6.5 yards per attempt and broke a 36-yarder. Michael Bush ran the ball only once, but again, that was a function of the team being forced to play from behind.
Although official statistics say Jay Cutler threw just one pick-six, we'll say he threw two considering Josh Robinson's return to the Chicago 5 set up Adrian Peterson's second 1-yard scoring run. The receiving corps didn't give the quarterback much help with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery dropping catchable passes while tight end Kellen Davis continued his usual struggles. Forte and Devin Hester caught most of the balls Cutler tossed their way, and it was refreshing to see the quarterback go to other targets not named Marshall. Still, this wasn't good enough; not even close.
Minnesota seized control of the game immediately by establishing Peterson, and never relinquished it. Yes, the Bears for the most part defended Peterson well in the second half by holding him to 29 yards on 13 carries. But by the time the Bears finally woke up on defense, Peterson had already delivered the knockout blow. Several players claimed the team may have come out flat. Well, that's not something teams can afford to do in December, and a veteran team such as the Bears should know that as well as anyone.
Christian Ponder didn't even crack 100 yards passing, but he didn't really have to because the Vikings were so successful running the ball. The Bears held tight end Kyle Rudolph without a catch, and Minnesota's leading receiver, Michael Jenkins, finished with 36 yards. Major Wright picked off a pass after dropping one in the loss the week before to the Seattle Seahawks. The Bears limited Ponder to a passer rating of 53.8 and sacked him once.
Eric Weems averaged just 14.8 yards on kickoff returns, but Hester brought a little bit of excitement back to the return game with five punt returns for 58 yards, including a 21-yard return. With Robbie Gould suffering an injury during pre-game warm-ups, punter Adam Podlesh stepped in on kickoffs and performed reasonably well. Zack Bowman made a nice play in knocking a ball to Weems that was downed at the Minnesota 1 late in the third quarter.
This grade could actually be a little higher because it's not the coaching staff's fault the defense allowed Peterson to go wild in Minnesota's first drive. The defensive coaches teach the proper technique to defend the run. But it's up to the players to execute the schemes, and they failed in that area, which compounded the type of game the offensive staff could call on the other side of the ball. The defense's failure to perform in a single drive basically threw the entire game off-kilter. We're not sure that's the coaching staff's fault.