Talk about a complete team effort…
The Bears handled the Vikings in every phase of the game Sunday and dealt Minnesota their worst loss of what’s becoming a terrible season in Vikingland.
On defense, the Bears contained Adrian Peterson, putting on a clinic of gang tackling and running to the ball. On offense, Martz stuck to the running game, and while it didn’t generate huge results, it kept the Vikings defense honest. And Devin Hester was a factor on special teams, with a 68-yard kickoff return and 42-yard punt return. Robbie Gould also contributed 2 field goals in windy conditions.
Let’s revisit our keys to the game to see how the Bears took it to the Vikings.
1) Adrian Peterson vs. the Entire Bears Defense
AP came into the game averaging 122 yards a game over his career vs. the Bears. That average will take a hit after Sunday’s 51-yard performance on 17 carries (3 ypc). The defensive line – powered by Julius Peppers – generated a consistent push against the Vikings O-line. The LBs made solid tackles, and when one Bear defender got his hands on #28, he held on for dear life until a teammate came to help him out.
2) Viking WRs vs. Bears DBs
Sidney Rice and Bernard Berrian did not play for the Vikings. Fortunately for them, Percy Harvin did play and scored on a 53-yard touchdown catch as a result of a blown coverage by Chris Harris. Their second biggest play was a long pass interference penalty that led to a Viking field goal. Otherwise, the receivers were no threat to the Bears defensive backfield. It didn’t help Favre that Harvin left the game early in the 4th quarter due to an injury. Danieal Manning also had solid coverage on TE Shiancoe, one of Favre’s favorite targets.
3) Julius Peppers vs. MIN Tackle Bryant McKinnie.
Peppers didn’t record a sack, but did manage 4 tackles. He played a big role in limiting Adrian Peterson by drawing an extra defender and opening up things for his linemates. The Bears didn’t record a sack, but were able to force Favre out of the pocket on numerous occasions.
4) Jay Cutler vs. Brett Favre.
Like many thought, the game between the two gunslingers generated 5 INTs. Coming off the highest passing yardage game of his long career, Favre finished 18 for 31 for 170 yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs. Cutler finished 22 for 35 for 237 yards, 3 TDs and 2 picks, including a terrible toss into double coverage in the Vikings’ end zone.
The Bears came into the game last in the league in converting 3rd downs. But Cutler made some big throws and helped the Bears finish 11 for 19 on 3rd downs.
5) The Mullet and Williams Wall vs. The Fighting Mike Tices
Jared Allen recorded a sack against Cutler and appeared to own Omiyale at times. But overall the Bears line performed well. The Allen sack was the only one Mike Tice’s big uglies allowed. They also did enough to make Martz confident in calling more running plays – 38 of them for 130 yards.
It appears the Bears line is coming together just in time for their playoff push.
6) MIN Punter Chris Kluwe vs. Devin Hester.
Hester had a nice 42-yard return that put the Bears in great position for points late in the 3rd…until Cutler threw his bone-headed INT. Other than that the Vikings kept Hester in check, with only one other punt return for 5 yards.
Hester returned to full-time return duties, handling kickoffs in addition to punt returns. A nifty 68-yard kickoff return helped set up a Bears score.
Considering how they handled all facets of the game, it’s no surprise the Bears walked out with a win, moving them to 6-3 on the season, tied with the Packers for 1st place in the North.
Adding insult to what is becoming a disasterous season in Minny, the Vikings fall 3 games behind their hated division rivals.
If this was the last time we’ll see Favre in Chicago, Bears fans can take great joy in knowing #4 lost 4 of his last 5 games in Soldier Field. The loss could also lead to changes in the Vikings coaching staff.
As for the Bears, they’ll have to quickly turn their attention to Miami for a Thursday night battle in FLA. The 5-4 Dolphins will present a tough challenge for the first-place Bears.