For Vikings, the little things add up to a big problem

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 27, 2012 - 8:00 AM

By failing in key areas, the Vikings absorbed a disheartening defeat.

 

The Vikings knew what it would take to score a pivotal upset Sunday in Chicago, laying out a set of straightforward prerequisites.

Objective 1: Take care of the football. Result: Failed, with the Vikings losing the turnover battle 3-1 and dropping to 0-5 this season when doing so.

Objective 2: Capitalize in the red zone. Result: Failed. In three trips inside the Chicago 20-yard line, the Vikings scored only one touchdown and now have 18 TDs in 36 red zone trips, a .500 percentage that ranks 19th in the NFL.

Objective 3: Create pressure and flourish on third downs defensively. Result: Failed. The Bears converted 10 of their first 13 third downs and steadied an otherwise ordinary offensive day by delivering in the clutch.

On the whole, the Vikings defensive effort was not as rotten as it might have seemed.

Yeah, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall totaled 92 receiving yards. But he needed 17 passes thrown his way and 12 catches to do so. And yes, running backs Michael Bush and Matt Forte combined to rush for more than 100 yards. But they averaged 2.9 yards per carry with only two runs longer than 6 yards.

Instead, the Vikings defense had its spirit crushed by the offense's carelessness and its own inability to deliver big plays.

Two of Chicago's three touchdown drives came on short fields, possessions that covered 34 and 13 yards after costly Viking turnovers.

The other Bears TD march was a 14-play, 80-yarder that seemed to slowly deflate the defense.

"Man, especially in a game like that, it was incredibly frustrating," safety Mistral Raymond said. "It's on us. Coaches put us in position to make plays. And we have to make those plays. I wouldn't say anything was totally out of sync. We just have to make a few plays."

Four times the Vikings had a chance to get off the field during that lengthy second-quarter Chicago drive. But here's how those sequences unfolded:

• Third-and-5 from the Chicago 25: The Bears called a shotgun handoff to Forte, and Jared Allen got pinned inside on a block by tight end Kellen Davis. Behind pulling right guard Lance Louis, Forte got outside to left and picked up the first down by a matter of 5 or 6 inches before Harrison Smith and Jasper Brinkley made the stop.

• Third-and-3 from the Chicago 38: Following a terrific second-down stop of Forte by Brian Robison, the Bears used a play fake and Jay Cutler delivered a well-designed flat pass to fullback Evan Rodriguez. It's the first time Rodriguez touched the ball in the NFL, and he gained 11 yards before Chad Greenway brought him down.

• Third-and-2 from the Vikings 43: The Vikings finally had success on third down with Robison and Mistral Raymond stopping Michael Bush for 1 yard. But because of where Chicago was on the field, they opted to go for it on fourth down and converted with an all-too-easy 5-yard inside run to Bush.

• Third-and-4 from the Vikings 31: Out of the shotgun with three receivers and a tight end wide, Cutler got pressured by Robison but scrambled two steps to his right and drilled a 6-yard bullet to Brandon Marshall, his favorite target. Marshall was bumped and released off the line by rookie cornerback Josh Robinson. Yet both Robinson and Greenway zeroed in on Forte in coverage, an obvious miscommunication that left Marshall wide open with no defender within 4 yards of him.

Two plays later, the Bears finished a scoring drive with a 1-yard Bush TD run and a two-point conversion for an 18-3 lead.

Said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier: "You hate for a team to be able to possess the ball as long as they did on that drive."

It was just that kind of day for the Vikings defense, which didn't surrender many big plays yet didn't produce any either.

For the entire game, Chicago averaged only 4.2 yards per play, just 0.2 yards more than the sputtering Vikings offense did. Yet the Bears won easily with Cutler drilling passes into tight windows and Bush picking up tough yardage when it counted.

In all, the Bears were 11-for-19 on third downs and 6-for-8 facing third-and-4 or less.

In the chase for a wild-card playoff berth, those mini-failures have major consequences.

"You have to find a way to make a play along the way to get off the field," Frazier said. "We didn't, and it hurt us."

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    Records

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Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 100 FINAL
Charlotte 115
New York 80 FINAL
Chicago 111
Golden State 108 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Oklahoma City 89 FINAL
Utah 94
Denver 114 FINAL
Portland 120
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 FINAL
Carolina 3
Florida 2 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 3
Ottawa 3 FINAL(OT)
Toronto 4
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 4 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Colorado 5
Dallas 4 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
Arizona 78 FINAL
Wisconsin 85
Canisius 73 FINAL
NJIT 78
Notre Dame 66 FINAL
Kentucky 68
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
D.C. 1
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 2 FINAL
Columbus 1
Portland 1 FINAL
Vancouver FC 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Houston 0
Seattle 0 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 69 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 73
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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