Anemic offense, relenting defense, spotty special teams doom Vikings

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 26, 2012 - 9:41 AM

In a game that could have vaulted them into first place, the mistake-prone Vikings were totally outclassed by a division opponent.

CHICAGO - The questions came at Vikings coach Leslie Frazier in rapid succession. During a seven-minute postgame news conference Sunday at Soldier Field, Frazier tried his best to assess his team's 28-10 loss to the Bears.

But how do you neatly summarize a performance that was 50 different kinds of sloppy?

Do you start with the turnovers -- three of them in all, including two in the first half that turned into 14 Chicago points?

Do you start with the defense's struggles to get off the field -- with the Bears converting 10 of their first 14 third downs while building a commanding 22-point halftime lead?

Or do you steer toward a couple of iffy coaching decisions -- most notably the third-and-2 and fourth-and-2 plays early in the fourth quarter during which the NFL's leading rusher, Adrian Peterson, didn't touch the ball?

One by one, Frazier chipped away at the recap. But he did so with a bothered gaze, aware his team was dominated in every phase.

"Not the kind of performance you need when you're on the road in the division," he said.

Even the obvious shortcomings had several layers. Such as the flat offensive effort in which the Vikings didn't pick up a first down until the second quarter and amassed only 258 yards all day.

Christian Ponder (22-for-43, 149 yards, one touchdown, one interception) was again shaky, too often vacating the pocket early and delivering only one completion longer than 13 yards.

Plus, his interception on a ball 4 feet over Devin Aromashodu's head gave Chicago an easy, one-play, 13-yard TD drive late in the first half.

But of Ponder's 21 incompletions, at least six were drops. And even Peterson, despite registering his fifth consecutive 100-yard rushing game, fumbled the ball away twice.

"I don't know. I wasn't feeling it today. At all," Peterson said. "Guys were riled up. We had opportunities. But it seemed like when things were getting high, then -- bam! -- it got chopped off at the head quick."

Sunday's game seemed to have the stakes to be a tone-setter for the rest of the season. Which is why the Vikings' slapdash effort seemed so bothersome with too much of a 2011 feel to it.

Like in the first quarter, when Chad Greenway's fumble recovery set the offense up at the Chicago 28. But then on a key third-and-4 pass a moment later, Ponder's slant to Jerome Simpson ricocheted off the receiver's hands and the Vikings settled for a field goal.

"In the National Football League, as a wide receiver, you've got to hold on to the football," Frazier said. "That's what you get paid to do."

In the second quarter, the defense found itself picked apart like the dessert tray at Thanksgiving dinner. The Bears took a little at a time and never stopped, delivering a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown march that ended with Michael Bush's 1-yard run.

On that series, Chicago converted three third downs and one fourth down.

"At that time, someone needs to make a play," said cornerback Antoine Winfield, who was hit with a 24-yard pass interference penalty on the drive. "Whether it's up front or us on the back end, we didn't do a good job today. And even as they were moving the ball, the most deflating thing is they scored the touchdown."

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, back after a one-game concussion absence, didn't seem foggy in the least. In fact, he was barely harassed.

Behind a line that had two new starters and then lost both starting guards to injury, Cutler pecked his way to 188 yards and was only sacked once -- on his first play when center Robert Garza stepped on his foot.

And if every aggravating loss requires at least one bad break, that came 9 minutes into the second half when Mistral Raymond's 52-yard fumble return touchdown was overturned on review -- after it was originally announced as confirmed by the replay.

Finally, in the fourth, the rally chances fizzled on those third-and-2 and fourth-and-2 plays that didn't go to Peterson but instead resulted in incomplete passes to Jarius Wright and Michael Jenkins.

"We thought we had some plays that would get us what we wanted and we fell short," Frazier said. "You can second-guess it and say that we should've done this or did that. But I thought we had some good plays called."

Coming into the weekend, Frazier also thought the Vikings had a good chance to legitimize themselves as NFC North contenders. Instead, they became the perfect get-well opponent for Chicago and left Soldier Field dizzied.

Dan Wiederer • dwiederer@startribune.com

  • related content

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  • Vikings at Chicago.

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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 33 2nd Qtr 6:32
New Orleans 36
Minnesota 25 2nd Qtr 5:51
Oklahoma City 40
Orlando 39 2nd Qtr 6:04
Memphis 49
Boston 8:00 PM
Utah
Denver 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
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American Univ 61
Wright State 56 2nd Half 3:52
Detroit 44
Syracuse 72 2nd Half 2:42
North Carolina 78
Cleveland State 56 2nd Half 0:32
Oakland 57
Delaware State 50 2nd Half 2:18
NC Central 51
High Point 57 2nd Half 2:30
Presbyterian 51
Howard 25 2nd Half
Bethune-Cookman 27
Coppin State 39 2nd Half
NC A&T 39
Nicholls 35 2nd Half 13:20
Northwestern St 52
Hampton 31 2nd Half 17:01
SC State 37
Gardner-Webb 30 1st Half 0:30
Campbell 37
MD-Eastern Shore 18 1st Half 7:55
Florida A&M 14
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Lamar 21
Central Arkansas 26 1st Half 4:11
New Orleans 43
Norfolk State 31 2nd Half
Savannah State 21
TX A&M-CC 31 2nd Half
SE Louisiana 32
Sam Houston St 38 1st Half 4:20
Abilene Christian 20
McNeese State 46 2nd Half
Incarnate Word 34
Milwaukee 16 2nd Half
Valparaiso 39
Alcorn State 7:30 PM
Alabama A&M
Southern U 7:30 PM
Alabama State
Prairie View 8:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Texas 8:00 PM
Iowa State
Texas Southern 8:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
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(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
(12) Texas A&M 51 2nd Half 4:52
(1) South Carolina 71
Wofford 56 2nd Half 0:43
Furman 56
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Manhattan 0
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Rider 0
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(15) Nebraska 8:00 PM
(20) Iowa
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