Vikings defense settles down after Cook's ejection

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 1, 2013 - 11:29 PM

Cornerback Cook was booted for pushing side judge.

Chicago wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) grabbed a 46-yard touchdown pass over Vikings cornerback Chris Cook (20), who was then ejected for contact with an official. “There are going to be times you get beat,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “You can’t let that stuff get to you.”

Photo: JERRY HOLT • jerry.holt@startribune.com, Star Tribune

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Vikings coach and former NFL cornerback Leslie Frazier had some choice words for current Vikings cornerback Chris Cook, whose troubled career hit another low point when he was ejected from Sunday’s game for pushing side judge Laird Hayes. Cook had just given up a 46-yard touchdown pass to receiver Alshon Jeffery with 5 minutes, 15 seconds left in Sunday’s 23-20 overtime win against the Bears at Mall of America Field.

“You’ve got to keep your composure, especially at the corner position,” Frazier said. “There are going to be times you get beat. You can’t let that stuff get to you. You’ve got to line up and play the next play.”

The Bears were facing a third-and-14 situation when quarterback Josh McCown launched a high-arcing ball into the front left corner of the end zone. Cook, who has yet to intercept a ball in 31 games over four seasons, was tracking the ball the entire time. But the 6-3 Jeffery timed his leap perfectly while the 6-2 Cook never left the ground.

“We were in great shape, a ball you’ve got to knock away and we don’t knock it down,” Frazier said. “And they make a terrific catch and Chris ends up getting ejected.”

Cook, who had already left the locker room by the time reporters were allowed in, appeared to be upset two plays earlier on what he might have thought was offensive pass interference on an incomplete pass intended for Jeffery. Of course, he also had just been beaten for an 80-yard touchdown by Jeffery on the second play of the third quarter.

“I was just getting open and making plays,” said Jeffery, who finished with 12 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns, primarily against Cook and rookie Xavier Rhodes.

Something else Frazier said also might have stung a bit for Cook, a second-round pick who has missed 29 games because of injuries and legal issues.

“After [Cook’s ejection], it seems like our guys settled down,” Frazier said.

So with the Bears leading 20-10, there became a heightened sense of urgency by a Vikings defense that was forced to play punt returner Marcus Sherels the rest of the game because of injuries and Wednesday’s release of backup A.J. Jefferson following his arrest on a domestic assault charge. Of course, the Bears also became increasingly conservative.

Mix the two together, and here’s what you get for the Bears’ final six possessions: punt, fumble, punt, missed field goal, punt, missed field goal. Quarterback Josh McCown finished with 355 yards passing, but only 76 of them came in the final 23 minutes — all of them after Cook was banished.

“We’re playing a lot of different people in the secondary a lot more snaps than we’d like to be playing them,” Frazier said. “But they were standing up and they were finding ways to hang in there.”

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