Another loss ... now let us count the ways

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 19, 2008 - 11:50 PM

The reasons for the Vikings' defeat were, if not legion, fairly numerous: the special teams, the offense, the defense, the coaching staff ...

CHICAGO - After the Vikings lost 48-41 to the Bears on Sunday, defensive end Jared Allen offered a promise. "You'll see a different team in two weeks,'' he said.

I'm hoping for the Titans.

The Vikings? They'll give you a headache quicker than tequila.

Losing to the Bears required the punter dropping a snap, then kicking the ball off the ground into the arms of an opponent, timing it just so the guy could run straight into the end zone.

Losing to the Bears required the punt returner to allow the football to bounce off of him -- which is the first thing a punt returner is taught not to do -- and into the end zone for another cheap touchdown.

Losing to the Bears required the quarterback to throw four interceptions in his last 30 attempts -- more than he had thrown in his first 150 attempts this season.

Losing to the Bears required the coach making two fourth-down decisions that backfired.

Losing to the Bears required breakdowns in every aspect of the game -- offense, defense, special teams, coaching and sport recognition. (Punter Chris Kluwe suffered an always-unfortunate soccer flashback.)

Offense: The Bears were missing both starting cornerbacks and their nickel back, yet Gus Frerotte acted as if he were the bride and the ball was the wedding bouquet.

Defense: The addition of Allen was supposed to make the Vikings fierce, but the defense made Kyle Orton look like Peyton Manning, even though Orton's receivers are about as exciting as public radio.

"They did some things against us that I guess we weren't prepared for,'' Allen said.

Especially the running and passing.

Special teams: For two weeks, Brad Childress will be only the second most unpopular coach on his staff. Special teams coach Paul Ferraro watched his guys give away two touchdowns and jump offsides on two extra points, a kickoff and a Bears field goal at the end of the first half. If they had been throwing the game, they wouldn't have dared been this obvious about it.

Coaching: Fourth-and-1 at the Bears' 36, third quarter, Bears leading 34-31. Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor running behind a highly paid offensive line is the strength of the team. Last time the Vikings faced fourth-and-1, Peterson muscled in for a touchdown.

This time, the Vikings went with the 37-year-old Frerotte -- let's call him a highly contemplative runner -- rolling right.

Time passed. Peterson, not known for his receiving skills, couldn't get open and Frerotte threw incomplete. "I should have run it,'' Frerotte said.

Then again, there were only 19 minutes left in the game. He might not have had time.

Fourth-and-3 at the Bears' 5, more than nine minutes remaining, Bears leading 48-31. The Vikings need two touchdowns and a field goal. Childress opts for the field goal, with no guarantee that he'll get this close to the end zone two more times. The Vikings don't get close enough on the final drive for this decision to matter, but the decision seemed curious.

So did everything about the game. Childress noted that there was no "root cause'' to all of the random acts of incompetence played out on Soldier Field, but there is a trend:

Since beating the eventual champion Giants last November, the Vikings have recorded exactly one impressive, cleanly-played victory over a quality team -- 20-10 over Carolina in Week 3.

The players acted oddly nonchalant about the loss, and Childress was loathe to criticize anyone, even the punter who dropped, then drop-kicked, the ball. "Accentuate the positive,'' Childress said. "Eliminate the negative.''

Those are lyrics from a hit song from the 1940s performed by such hip-hop stars as Bing Crosby, Perry Como and the Andrews Sisters.

There is a chance that Childress, who coaches edgy young men, may not be reaching his targeted demographic.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. jsouhan@startribune.com

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