First off, let me say that in eight days the season starts anew and that a three or four game winning streak is all they will need to put together a Championship run.
That being said, there are plenty of issues that have come about in the last four weeks that need to be addressed in order for such a post-season run to become reality.
The loss tonight brings to mind two basic themes: consistency and missed opportunities.
- Brett Favre was 26 of 40 for 321 yards and 2 touchdowns with no picks. His game started out pretty pedestrian, throwing multiple errant passes and losing a fumble when he should have had a little more awareness. He also tried to throw a pass to right guard Anthony Herrera which resulted in a 10 yard intentional grounding penalty. His fourth quarter heroics seemingly willed the Vikings to a potential victory, but he was also lucky to not have multiple throws picked off. Consistency is key.
- The offensive line was frustrating today with their inconsistency. At times they were opening big holes for the running backs and fiercely protecting Favre. On other occasions they looked completely overmatched by the Bears hodge-podge defense.
- Adrian Peterson was having one of his best weeks this year before his overtime and game-losing fumble. He had 94 yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 rushing attempts, as well as 3 catches for 43 yards. His fumble, however, is just another example of an inconsistency that this team needs to tighten up.
- Bernard Berrian led the team with 58 receiving yards, but dropped a potential touchdown pass in the open field.
- Special Teams was all over the map in this game. They gave up a giant return that set up a touchdown for the Bears and they allowed an extra point to be blocked that would have been the difference in the game. On the other hand, Percy Harvin provided some fun returns and Jamarca Sanford had a superb hit on punt coverage.
- Cedric Griffin had the lone interception for the Vikings on a very heads up play and also made a number of solid tackles, but he was also burned on multiple passes including two touchdowns.
- It is nice to have Antoine Winfield back but his performance tonight was incredibly spotty… and that’s being nice. He got burned on the game-losing touchdown, which was just the last of many poor plays for ‘Toine.
- Ben Leber was all over the field making tackles and had a pair of defended passes which continued what has been a stellar season for him. The negative aspect here is that Leber’s two defended passes each could have very easily been intercepted. This falls under the category of missed opportunities.
- Jared Allen also missed opportunities tonight, as he faced a single blocker almost all evening. He registered two tackles and no sacks despite the favorable matchup. Also, where is the rest of the defensive line at?
- Jasper Brinkley had a better game this week, and registered 6 tackles. His coverage skills leave a lot to be desired, however.
- The play-calling was improved over last week, but there was still plenty of head-scratchers. Unwillingness to blitz on defense and stubborness on offense may very well end up being this team’s downfall.
So there you have it. The Vikes have lost control of the #2 seed due to nothing more than inconsistencies and missed opportunities across the board.