CHICAGO – A change at tackle wasn’t enough to keep Sam Bradford upright as the Vikings offense continued its downward spiral Monday night.
Bradford was hit nine times, including five sacks, during Jake Long’s first start at left tackle. Much of the pressure came from the right side, where T.J. Clemmings returned and looked anything but comfortable in the Vikings’ 20-10 loss to the Bears.
“I’m tired of hearing about the sides thing, it doesn’t really matter,” Clemmings said. “We’re just not us right now. We know what we can do, and we’re not doing it. It’s exactly what you guys are seeing out there. It’s clear as day.”
The offense ended its one-game tackle rotation by sending Jeremiah Sirles to the bench, briefly, and still couldn’t produce after the season’s first loss at Philadelphia the previous week. Issues continued up front, where once again the Vikings were stuffed near the goal line.
Matt Asiata twice ran into a wall on carries from Chicago 3-yard line before Bradford took his fourth sack of the first half on third-and-goal. Blair Walsh finally got the Vikings on the board with a 30-yard field goal.
“Regardless of what’s going on up front, I’ve got to find a way to move the ball downfield,” said Bradford, sacked 11 times over the past two games.
Clemmings didn’t look any better back at right tackle, where he started all 17 games as a rookie last season following an injury to Phil Loadholt. Clemmings surrendered multiple hits to Bears edge rusher Pernell McPhee in another forgetful outing.
The Vikings’ second consecutive loss adds intrigue to Tuesday’s 3 p.m. NFL trade deadline. Veteran offensive tackles such as Cleveland’s Joe Thomas and San Francisco’s Joe Staley could be available.
Safety Jayron Kearse’s first career start was interrupted almost immediately when he was pulled from the game following Jordan Howard’s 69-yard run on the game’s opening possession, the longest given up this season by the Vikings defense.
“We had a couple missed tackles,” coach Mike Zimmer said.
Safety Harrison Smith was among those to miss. Kearse appeared to take a bad angle and didn’t get a hand on Howard. Anthony Harris took over for Kearse and the two rotated throughout the game in place of Andrew Sendejo, who was inactive because of an ankle injury suffered on his first-quarter interception return against the Eagles.
Rhodes on Jeffery
Alshon Jeffery’s quiet night ended at halftime, as the Chicago star receiver caught four passes for 63 yards in the second half.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes shadowed Jeffery for much of the game and deflected three passes, helping to hold Jeffery to a quiet first half. But after Rhodes limped off the field for a brief break, Jeffery caught his first touchdown pass of the season on an 11-yard quick slant against Trae Waynes.
Jeffery later caught an 11-yard pass against Rhodes to convert a third down in the fourth quarter, enabling the Bears to drain more time off the clock.
Speaking with the ESPN broadcasters pregame, Vikings athletic trainer Eric Sugarman said Adrian Peterson won’t be running anytime soon in his rehab from his surgically repaired meniscus. Peterson was placed on injured reserve after his Sept. 22 knee surgery with the hope of returning before season’s end.
“It’s still going to be a while before it’s safe for him to run,” Sugarman said. “Sometimes it’s our job to protect them from themselves so he doesn’t do too much too soon.”
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is now walking without crutches and “progressing well,” Sugarman said, two months after surgery to repair a dislocated left knee and multiple torn ligaments.
• Left guard Alex Boone was forced out in the second half by concussion symptoms. He was replaced at left guard by Sirles. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn underwent X-rays on an injured foot that forced him out in the fourth quarter.
• Despite both Bears starting guards, Kyle Long and Josh Sitton, not playing because of injury, the Vikings defense was gashed for 158 rushing yards — a season worst — and only sacked Jay Cutler once.
• The game was paused briefly in the first quarter after head linesman Ed Walker slipped to the Soldier Field sod and injured his leg. Walker was carted off the field because of a torn quadriceps.
• With the game falling on Halloween, ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown” crew all wore costumes, with former Vikings receiver Randy Moss dressing as a Viking.