1. Still weak in the middle
The Bears must have liked what they saw from the Lions-Vikings game. Even with veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams back in the Vikings lineup, Chicago opened with three consecutive Matt Forte runs between the tackles. Forte gained zero, 24 and 4 yards. For the game, 16 of Forte’s 19 runs were designed to go between the tackles. He gained 79 of his 90 yards while heading up the middle. Chicago averaged 5.0 yards on 26 carries. “We didn’t play well,” safety Harrison Smith said. “We couldn’t stop the run, and we didn’t play well when it counted most. That gets you beat in this league.”
2. He’s not Reggie, but it still hurt
The Bears also must have liked what the Lions’ screen game did to the Vikings. Forte isn’t as fast as Lions running back Reggie Bush, who had four catches for 101 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown against the Vikings. But Forte still pecked away at the Vikings with a game-high 11 catches for 71 yards. Seven of Forte’s catches for 57 yards were screens or short crossing routes. The Vikings tried putting different defenders on Forte, but it was a struggle. His longest catch was only 13 yards, when he beat strong safety Jamarca Sanford in man coverage, but he was a strain on the defense. “Until we prove we can stop the screen game, we’re going to keep seeing a lot of it,” linebacker Chad Greenway said.
3. Kalil steps up
The sky might not be falling at left tackle after all. Matt Kalil, who was supposed to lock down the quarterback’s blind side and make us not have to worry about it for the next decade, got back on track with a solid effort against Bears defensive end Julius Peppers. Peppers was held without a sack and had only one pressure, an inside move that caught Kalil out of position and caused quarterback Christian Ponder to throw incomplete on third-and-15. Kalil also had a false start on the play before that. “I’ve got some criticism the last few weeks for not playing up to my potential,” Kalil said. “I know [Peppers] is with some of the greats. I think I had a really good game against him.”
4. CP sees (a little) more time
Rookie first-round draft pick Cordarrelle Patterson, who took the opening kickoff and tied the franchise record for longest play (105 yards), got more than the five snaps on offense that he got in the season opener. But not much. An unofficial press box tally had him with six snaps at receiver. He was targeted twice, catching both balls, one for no gain and the other for 14 yards. He lined up wide left four times and wide right twice. The Vikings faked a reverse to him once. Joe Webb, who made the team as its fifth receiver, got four snaps at receiver, according to an unofficial press box tally. He wasn’t targeted.
5. Second time a charm for Locke
Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer might have a sleepless night or two ahead of him after Devin Hester torched the Vikings with a team-record 249 kickoff return yards. But at least Priefer gets some comfort from the fact that his punter, rookie Jeff Locke, didn’t look like the nervous rookie who punted the week before. Yes, Locke got some favorable bounces when Chicago’s return men didn’t field the punts. But give the kid credit for punts of 54, 52 and 65 yards. That’s an average of 56.7 yards with a net 50. He had two punts downed inside the 20-yard line and would have had all three if not for a fluke play.