1. Bradford going backward?
For whatever reason — perhaps heightened expectations? — quarterback Sam Bradford is regressing after opening his Vikings career with four victories and a 70.4 completion percentage. He looks less comfortable and less in sync with his receivers than he did when he was playing on the fly after being rushed into the starting lineup two weeks after arriving via trade from Philadelphia. In the first half Monday, Bradford completed only eight of 16 passes. Even when he had time to throw, he was missing open targets. The third possession of the game illustrated Bradford’s regression. He opened the possession on a miscommunication with receiver Stefon Diggs. Bradford thought Diggs was going to cut toward the sideline and threw it there as Diggs cut inside. On the next play, Diggs got open behind the defense, but Bradford overthrew him on what should have been — probably would have been a couple of weeks ago — an easy 50-yard score. Instead, the Vikings went three-and-out after getting the ball at midfield.
2. Weird penalty helps Vikings
T.J. Clemmings struggled in the first half after being asked to move back to right tackle to accommodate Jake Long on the left side. Clemmings gave up an ugly strip-sack — which is becoming a common sight for Vikings offensive linemen — to outside linebacker Pernell McPhee in the second quarter. But the officials ruled that Bradford had fumbled backward. The ball was live, but Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks trotted past it on his way off the field, thinking the play was dead. Meanwhile, another Bears defensive lineman, Cornelius Washington, sprinted onto the field from the bench as Vikings receiver Adam Thielen jumped on the loose ball. The officials gave the Vikings the ball and called an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on Washington, turning what would have been fourth-and-13 at the Vikings 43 into first-and-10 at the Chicago 42. The Vikings took advantage of the second chance with a 30-yard field goal.
3. Determination to run snuffed
It’s painful to watch the Vikings try to run the football. The line is decimated at tackle. Adrian Peterson is on injured reserve. Jerick McKinnon (knee) was inactive. That left Matt Asiata to carry a running game that came in averaging a league-worst 2.6 yards per carry. On the Vikings’ fourth possession of the game, you could tell offensive coordinator Norv Turner was determined to build some balance. He ran Asiata three consecutive times. But after a 7-yard gain on first down, Asiata gained only 1 yard on each of his next two carries. The Vikings punted, going three-and-out for the third of four consecutive possessions. Later in the first half, Asiata could get only 2 yards on back-to-back runs from the Chicago 4-yard line before a sack led to a field goal and a 13-3 halftime deficit.
4. Rare third-down woes
The Vikings went into the game ranked sixth in third-down defense (34.18 percent allowed). But the way the Vikings offense is playing, the Bears essentially won the game on the first drive of the third quarter when they went 3-for-3 on third downs while driving 75 yards in 11 plays to take a 20-3 lead on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Alshon Jeffery, who beat Xavier Rhodes on the play. Jeffery also beat Rhodes for a 34-yard reception on third-and-5. The Bears also converted third-and-10 with an 11-yard pass to Jeremy Langford, and third-and-2 with a 6-yard run by Jordan Howard.
5. Howard disguised as Forte?
Perhaps the best Halloween costume at Soldier Field belonged to Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard, a fifth-round draft pick who did a darn good job of impersonating former Bears running back Matt Forte. The Vikings went into the game ranked third in the league in run defense (81.7 yards allowed per game). Howard had 71 yards through his second run, which was a 69-yarder on the Bears’ third offensive snap of the game. The run included a missed tackle in the hole by free safety Harrison Smith and a horrible angle by rookie strong safety Jayron Kearse. Howard, who also had a 34-yard catch off a shovel pass from Jay Cutler on third-and-8, finished with 153 yards on 26 carries.