1. First catch atones for penalty
Welcome to the Vikings, Michael Floyd. Finally. After serving his four-week suspension, the big receiver had a quiet first half. It would have been nice to see him targeted in the one red-zone opportunity near the end of the half. But it wouldn’t have mattered since quarterback Sam Bradford was still in the game as a sitting duck on that bum left knee at that point. Bradford couldn’t function, took his fourth sack and was mercifully pulled from the game soon after. In the third quarter, Floyd was called for a holding penalty that negated a 12-yard first-down catch by Latavius Murray. But two snaps later, the Twin Cities native had his first catch as a Viking. It was a diving 19-yard grab near the sideline for a first down. Two plays later, Jerick McKinnon had a career-long 58-yard touchdown run to give the Vikings a 17-9 lead.
2. How did McKinnon hang on?
There are hard hits and then there’s what happened to McKinnon on a checkdown pass on third-and-15 from the Chicago 18 in the closing minutes of the first half. Wanting to make sure they at least got a field goal out of an Everson Griffen sack three snaps earlier, the Vikings played it careful on the short toss to McKinnon. The running back gained 10 yards when safety Adrian Amos bolted in out of nowhere. McKinnon never saw it coming. Amos was going full speed when he delivered a legal blow to McKinnon’s chest and shoulder area. McKinnon’s head snapped violently as he toppled over another player. But, amazingly, he didn’t lose the ball. The Vikings took a 3-2 lead on Kai Forbath’s 26-yard field goal with 1:02 left in the half. The Vikings had four first downs and 55 yards at the half.
3. Kudos for picking up flag
Yes, football is under fire for being too violent. For causing concussions. For all the injuries that drain rosters throughout the league every week. But the NFL is doing a good job for the most part when it comes to recognizing concussions and for retraining defenders to hit the right way. To take the head out of the game. To stop leading with the crown of the helmet. With that in mind, it was good to see referee Jerome Bogger step in and overrule a penalty on Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo for unnecessary roughness late in the first half. Sendejo clobbered receiver Markus Wheaton on an incompletion with 47 seconds left in the half. Wheaton was shaken up, but Sendejo’s hit was to the chest and shoulder, not the head. Defenders need to be rewarded, not penalized, when they hit the modern way.
4. A first quarter to forget
A year ago, when the Vikings lost at Soldier Field, the Bears took the opening kickoff and drove 81 yards for a field goal. Jordan Howard’s first two carries netted 72 yards. It looked like the Bears would march again Monday night. Howard was held to 4 yards on his first two carries, but Mitch Trubisky’s first NFL pass was a 12-yard sideline pass to Kendall Wright on third-and-6. Trubisky went 3-for-4 for 30 yards on his first drive. The one incompletion was a drop by Dion Sims. Center Cody Whitehair also was called for holding, negating a 26-yard third-down completion to Tre McBride to the Vikings 9. The teams then combined for six punts and four three-and-outs in the first quarter. The Vikings had no first downs and trailed 2-0 because immobile Sam Bradford held the ball too long in the end zone.
5. Hello, Mitch. You’re No. 75!
The Bears, Lions and Vikings have now had 75 starting quarterbacks since the Packers began their Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers run back in 1992. Bears rookie Mitch Trubisky joined the expanding club Monday night. He’s the 30th starting quarterback the Bears have had during that stretch. He joins the likes of Peter Tom Willis, Rick Mirer, Henry Burris, Todd Collins, Caleb Hanie and Jimmy Clausen. The Lions have had 24, while the Vikings have had 21, including Favre himself. The Packers? Well, they’ve had only five quarterbacks start since Week 4 of the ’92 season. Favre and Rodgers have started all but nine of those games. And that, folks, is how you win 12 of the 24 division titles since 1992, including nine of 15 NFC North crowns. And, yes, the Packers are out front again heading into Week 6..