1. The Vikings have missed Teddy Bridgewater’s mobility the past two weeks. While Sam Bradford’s bigger arm opened up the field in his first four starts, the trade-off with having him under center instead of the injured Bridgewater is that he doesn’t have the pocket poise and ability to evade the rush that Bridgewater consistently flashed in his first two seasons. At times, that ducking and dodging got Bridgewater in trouble. But more often than not, it helped him salvage plays that quickly broke down because of poor pass protection, something that continues to happen again and again (and again and again) this season. Bradford, a more stationary target after twice tearing his left ACL, has been sacked 11 times the past two weeks and last night seemed at times to be skittish with the pocket continuing to crumble around him. That big arm is less effective without any time to throw.
2. Jordan Howard, the Bears’ rookie running back, could be a handful for years to come. Howard, a fifth-round pick who plays bigger than his listed 222 pounds, channeled his inner Eddie Lacy, breaking through arm tackles and showing a little wiggle as he rumbled down the field. He also produced a few big plays in the passing game. He rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, and his 69-yard run in the first quarter was a tone-setter for the Bears. Howard also caught four passes for 49 yards so he was responsible for 202 of the Bears’ 403 yards of offense. The Bears are looking for a long-term replacement for Matt Forte, the former Pro Bowl back whom they let walk in the offseason. Howard made a convincing case to be that guy Monday night while running all over a Vikings defense that gave up more than 150 rushing yards for the first time in a dozen games.
3. One silver lining in the loss is that the Vikings might have gotten Stefon Diggs going again. Diggs looked to be on the verge of a breakout second season after topping 100 receiving yards in each of his first two games, including a 182-yard performance against the Packers. But, slowed by a groin injury, Diggs has not totaled 182 yards in his past four games combined. There were encouraging signs against the Bears, even before his late 25-yard touchdown catch. Diggs caught eight passes for 76 yards and would have had nine catches for 126 and two TDs had Bradford not overthrown him on a first-quarter deep ball, a would-be big play that could have changed the game. That groin injury might be behind for the Vikings’ most dangerous offensive weapon.