Minnesota Vikings: 30
Chicago Bears: 31
Pass Offense: The Vikings made a massive improvement in their passing game over the second half, completing the majority of their 16 completions in the the third and fourth quarters. While not surgical, the second half's passing was effective and efficient and helped the Vikings move the ball down the field. Unfortunately, a dropped pass and some poor decision making limited the passing game, and it couldn't make up for the foibles of the first-half offense.
Run Offense: The Vikings improved their running game in the second half and improved their blocking—due in part to Rhett Ellison's increased role as a lead blocker. Nevertheless, the highlight of the second-half run game will be Adrian Peterson's 13-yard loss. Finishing with 3.8 yards per carry after entering the half at over five yards a carry is frustrating, but the run game was ultimately more successful despite one bad run.
Pass Defense: Some good showings in the third quarter couldn't recover the dismal outing of the first half, and the end of the game featured dismal play by the secondary despite a few highlight moments from rookie Xavier Rhodes. Giving up the final drive for the touchdown was inexcusable, and open spaces left by linebackers and cornerbacks were exploited well by the Bears.
Run Defense: Allowing 4.7 yards a carry to Matt Forte doesn't tell the whole story, and the Vikings were able to—barring a few exceptional runs—prevent significant success from the Bears running game. The Bears were held out of the end zone as rushers and significantly better defensive line play, as well as some improvement from the linebacker corps on traditional runs, helped them force the Bears to go to the air.
Special Teams: A fumble at the end of the game sealed the Bears' victory on a kickoff return, but giving the Bears good field position on every kickoff of their own may have been the real killer for the Vikings, as field position dictated the narrative of the game. Despite a top-tier special teams unit in 2012, Minnesota made too many mistakes to pull away with a win despite on-field play that could have warranted one.
Coaching: Once again, the coaching staff was on the back end of some serious failures. The final offensive drive from the Bears was assisted by abysmal coverage calls from defensive coordinator Alan Williams, and he was in many ways responsible for the large gaps left on the field for Bears receivers to exploit.
Offensively, the Vikings were not much better, and Bill Musgrave couldn't redeem a poorly-called first half despite a functional second half. Award-winning special teams coordinator Mike Priefer is also responsible for allowing large lanes to Devin Hester and allowing undesignated returners to attempt a runback on the kickoff return.
First Half Analysis
Pass Offense: The Vikings pass offense has been infuriatingly inconsistent, and despite a strong showing to start off the game from Christian Ponder, both he and the offensive line have been poor. The left side of the line has leaked like a sieve and Ponder hasn't risen to the occasion. Despite that, there have been some good signs—strong passes and open receivers—but when push comes to shove, the passing game is not a threat.
Run Offense: The Vikings can't get the run game going despite the best running back in football. When Peterson has been given a small amount of space, he's turned it into serious yardage, but most rushes have been ineffective despite the high yards-per-carry.
Pass Defense: Having allowed 154 yards through the air and two touchdowns, the Vikings secondary has been struggling to deal with Marc Trestman's offense, run through Jay Cutler. Brandon Marshall already has 86 yards, and the safety play in particular has been suspect. To its credit, the defensive line has risen to the occasion and was responsible for both turnovers—a strip sack and an interception off of a tipped pass.
Run Defense: Matt Forte has been having a great day, although the Vikings run defense has stood strong in the red zone. Most of Forte's highlight plays have come through the air despite a 24-yard run by the Bears running back. Not a performance to hang their hat on, but at the very least not something that should cause them to lose any sleep.
Special Teams: It's difficult to grade the special teams performance, given the high highs and the low lows. Despite excellent work by Jeff Locke, the punt gunners and the return unit, the Vikings have given up two critical long runs to Devin Hester when kicking off. One of those special teams failures was ultimately responsible for a Chicago touchdown, but the special teams has been slightly better than worse overall.
Coaching: The issues with the Vikings defense have largely been due to personnel, not scheme—defensive coordinator Alan Williams has mixed up coverage shells and coverage types. The defense hasn't executed otherwise good plays. On the other hand, the offensive play-calling has been predictable and lackluster. Without creativity, the Vikings won't overcome their deficiencies on the offense.
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