Cutler, Bennett lead Chicago past Vikings in final minute

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 16, 2013 - 7:56 AM

A defensive collapse negated Christian Ponder’s strong second half and put the Vikings in an 0-2 hole.

– All they needed were three minutes of solid football. Just one defensive stand and a dreary Sunday afternoon spent in the rain would suddenly give way to a cheerier outlook that maybe things aren’t so bad after all.

The Vikings heard the sky was falling for an entire week after their no-show performance against Detroit in the season opener. But suddenly, they found themselves in position to salvage a split in their two-game NFC North road trip to start the 2013 season.

With a manageable schedule on tap the next three games, it almost felt safe to remove our collective finger from the panic button. The Vikings just had to close the deal.

And then … Poof!

“We’ve got to play a full game if we want to win in this league,” defensive tackle Kevin Williams said.

The Vikings absorbed a painful reminder of that edict with a gut punch that whitewashed some positive developments Sunday. A defensive meltdown culminated with a touchdown pass by the Chicago Bears with 10 seconds remaining, leaving the Vikings to stew in their locker room after a 31-30 loss at Soldier Field.

The last-second touchdown dropped the Vikings to 0-2 and raised questions about who was to blame for Martellus Bennett’s 16-yard scoring catch. The players appeared confused before the snap with cornerback Chris Cook signaling for help.

Cook declined to speak to reporters after the game and his defensive teammates clearly were upset, though they chose their words carefully. Middle linebacker Erin Henderson admitted he was surprised by the play call on that final play, but he said players still must perform their job.

“Coaches call plays and players have to go out there and make plays,” he said.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier accepted full responsibility for the final drive, which began at the Chicago 34. Jay Cutler shredded the Vikings defense as the Bears went 66 yards on 10 plays in 3 minutes, 5 seconds.

“Personally, I have to do a better job guiding our team in that last sequence,” Frazier said.

Instead, Soldier Field remained a house of horrors for the Vikings, who have now lost 12 of their past 13 visits. The Vikings also realize they’ve dug themselves a hole before even playing a home game.

Since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, teams that start 0-2 have made the playoffs just 11.6 percent of the time. That list includes the 2008 Vikings, but Sunday was not the time to start analyzing playoff scenarios.

“We just need to get back to accountability within the team from position to position,” linebacker Chad Greenway said. “Just clean up messes. There’s just stuff across the board that needs to be improved.”

The Vikings provided another mixed-bag performance that would look different had they avoided that final-drive collapse. Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson opened the game with a 105-yard kickoff return. The defense forced four turnovers, including a 61-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Brian Robison and a Kevin Williams interception in the end zone.

Quarterback Christian Ponder recovered after throwing a pick-six in the second quarter to give his team a chance to win. One week after turning the ball over four times against Detroit, Ponder’s status seemed tenuous after Tim Jennings intercepted a pass intended for Jerome Simpson and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown.

“That’s a terrible play,” Ponder said.

Ponder responded with a perfectly placed 20-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph on the ensuing drive. He also made a few key runs in the second half as the Vikings finally established an offensive rhythm and balance. Ponder passed for 227 yards while Adrian Peterson quietly rushed for 100 yards.

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Miami - LP: M. Dunn 1 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: D. Carpenter 3
Arizona - WP: T. Cahill 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: P. Strop 5
San Francisco 12 Bottom 11th Inning
Colorado 8
Texas - WP: M. Perez 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 0
Houston - LP: J. Fields 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: F. Rodney 5
Cincinnati 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Pittsburgh 1
LA Angels 0 Top 2nd Inning
Washington 0
Kansas City 2 Top 2nd Inning
Cleveland 0
Baltimore 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
Toronto 0
Chicago WSox 2 Top 2nd Inning
Detroit 0
St. Louis 1 Bottom 1st Inning
NY Mets 0
Minnesota 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Tampa Bay 0
NY Yankees 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Boston 1
San Diego - T. Ross 7:10 PM
Milwaukee - K. Lohse
Philadelphia - C. Hamels 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Charlotte 13 1st Qtr 3:29
Miami 17
Dallas 7:00 PM
San Antonio
Portland 8:30 PM
Houston
Pittsburgh 1 1st Prd 9:43
Columbus 0
Anaheim 7:00 PM
Dallas
St. Louis 8:30 PM
Chicago
Houston 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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