Breaking down the tape from the Vikings' loss to the Bears
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
Here's the tale of the tape from the Minnesota Vikings' 27-13 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday, with grades on a scale of 0 to 5 in parentheses:
A depleted receiver group, poor footing and shaky protection did no favors for Brett Favre, who committed a season-high four turnovers and finished with a 44.5 passer rating. One interception was tipped at the line. Another was the result of a fallen receiver. The third was at least partly on Favre for giving TE Visanthe Shiancoe a tough chance up the seam, and he held the ball forever before DE Henry Melton raked it out for a drive-killing fumble. Even at age 41 and with a broken foot, Favre moves well enough inside the pocket to get pressured 11 times and not take a sack. He exploited blown coverage for a 53-yard touchdown pass to WR Percy Harvin but didn't have another completion longer than 14 yards. He underthrew Harvin badly on another deep ball but got bailed out because S Danieal Manning was called for interference. The bullet through WR Greg Camarillo's hands at the goal line could have been placed better. The intentional grounding call was questionable, since he appeared to be looking for Camarillo. For the most part, Favre's decision-making was OK -- there just were too many times he looked like he'd never thrown to these guys.
Running backs (1½)
Take out the gaping hole HB Adrian Peterson (40 snaps) ran through for a 20-yard gain early, and he had only 31 yards on 16 carries (1.9 average). Nine carries for 1 yard or less didn't help. Worse were Peterson's three miscues in the passing game -- two drops in the flats and a slip over the middle that turned into an interception for WLB Lance Briggs. Sun and turf bear part of the blame, but Peterson has to be better. Fight never is a problem. In a game the Vikings ran only 58 offensive snaps, did Peterson really need to give up 14 to rookie HB Toby Gerhart -- including sequences in the red zone and 2-minute? At least Gerhart was productive, breaking a couple of tackles while averaging 5 yards on four carries and catching two passes for 17. FB Naufahu Tahi (nine) barely saw the field and was lousy when he did. Leading is a tough task against that Bears front.
Hurt or not, Bernard Berrian's decision to drop out minutes before game time threw a wrench into a game plan that counted on him holding down the "X" position. Instead, Greg Lewis (57 snaps) got the bulk of work there and struggled to find space, catching one pass for 13 yards late. The Vikings' only "explosive" gain through the air was the TD throw to Harvin (44), who got a clean inside release against CB Tim Jennings and was wide open up the right sideline because FS Chris Harris was caught staring down the seam. Harvin also had a step deep to draw a 42-yard interference on Manning and saved a touchdown by tripping CB D.J. Moore after an interception. Camarillo (32) needs to catch that deep slant in the red zone. Roughly 2½ months after arriving in a trade from Miami, he and Favre still aren't on the same page. Harvin's ankle injury gave Hank Baskett 14 snaps and Favre never threw his way. The scary part is six catches for this group isn't even a season low.
Tight ends (2)
It was a rough day for Shiancoe (43 snaps), who contributed a diving catch for 14 yards early and that was about it. He was flagged for pass interference, couldn't hang onto two catchable balls, had a hand in three negative runs and fell down on the Vikings' final offensive play while trying to adjust to Favre's throw up the seam. The mistakes keep catching up with him. Jimmy Kleinsasser (26) blocked well as usual. Jeff Dugan (12) blew a backside cutoff against LE Israel Idonije, letting Gerhart get dropped for a 1-yard loss.
Offensive linemen (1½)
Bears DE Julius Peppers surprised by playing an even 28 snaps on each side of the line -- and he had more success against RT Phil Loadholt, who gave up two hits and four total pressures, three of them to Peppers. LT Bryant McKinnie gave up two pressures, including the outside rush against Idonije that yielded Moore's batted-ball interception. Both tackles got help -- the Vikings chipped or kept in an extra blocker on 11 of 32 dropbacks (34.4%) even though the Bears blitzed only three times (9.4%) -- and each had a hand in a run for no gain. McKinnie was flagged for a block in the back, too, and seems to be regressing in the run game as the season wears on. RG Anthony Herrera gave up pressure on four consecutive pass plays and appeared to be having problems with his right shoulder. This might have been his worst game. LG Steve Hutchinson let MLB Brian Urlacher beat him on one early run play but otherwise held up well. C John Sullivan covered up Urlacher on Peterson's long run before dropping out after eight snaps with another calf injury. C Jon Cooper (50) was fine with protection and making the line calls, but he's susceptible to getting bullied in the run game.
Defensive linemen (1½)
RE Jared Allen (72 snaps) and LE Ray Edwards (67) registered seven and six QB pressures, respectively. But their inability to get elusive Bears QB Jay Cutler on the ground -- Allen had the Vikings' only sack against LT Frank Omiyale in 2.3 seconds -- contributed heavily to Chicago's 57.9% conversion rate (11-of-19) on third downs. When DC Leslie Frazier rushed five or more on eight of 32 dropbacks (25%), Cutler repeatedly found the open man, including a 29-yard completion to WR Johnny Knox, a 19-yard TD to dragging WR Devin Hester after Edwards tripped and a 12-yard completion WR Rashied Davis on third-and-6. Allen tipped a pass and was notably active in the run game, finishing with five solo tackles. RT J'Marcus Webb couldn't stop Edwards' outside rush all day and was called for two penalties, but Edwards also got so wide once Cutler had a huge lane to scramble for 25 yards. NT Pat Williams (45) got more time than normal and showed flashes of his younger self, beating C Olin Kreutz and LG Chris Williams into the backfield and making multiple plays off double teams. UT Kevin Williams (71) got his only QB pressure against Chris Williams and was awfully quiet, making only one tackle. He also tipped a pass in the red zone. DL Brian Robison (18) helped sandwich Cutler on Allen's sack and drew a holding penalty with an outside rush against Webb. DT Letroy Guion (15) worked back Kreutz to muddle a run play, but there weren't many snaps for him, Fred Evans (eight) and DE Everson Griffen (three). Evans has no prayer against a double team.
MLB E.J. Henderson (75 snaps) had one of his more active days against the run, getting off blocks time and again on his way to 10 tackles (nine solo) on a day the Bears backs averaged only 3.2 yards on 32 carries. Henderson's blitzes got nowhere, though, and TE Greg Olsen shook his underneath coverage for a 17-yard touchdown. SLB Chad Greenway (75) reacted far too slowly off play-action as TE Kellen Davis jogged past him for a 19-yard TD catch, and WR Devin Aromashodu lost him late for a 9-yard reception on third-and-7, too. Greenway's best play was his read to drop RB Chester Taylor for a 1-yard loss on a counter play. He can make almost anyone miss when he's moving downhill. WLB Ben Leber (34) had three solo tackles.
Defensive backs (3)
SS Husain Abdullah's first career interception came thanks to a deflection by nickel CB Lito Sheppard (42 snaps), who had Knox's cross covered. The second came on an instinctive play and a bad decision by Cutler as Knox worked the end line. That Abdullah took advantage of those opportunities shouldn't be overlooked -- consider that FS Madieu Williams has only three interceptions total in 37 starts for the Vikings, and the entire secondary had produced only two turnovers through eight games. All the pivot and crossing routes challenged rookie CB Chris Cook in his first start with the base defense, but he held up OK, allowing three completions into his coverage for 25 yards. It's tough to fault Sheppard for giving up five completions in seven targets for 71 yards, considering completions of 29 and 22 came in 5.1 and 5.7 seconds, respectively. CB Antoine Winfield snuffed out two screens to his side, deflected a red-zone pass, drew a holding penalty and didn't give up a completion. He did get lucky when he slipped against WR Earl Bennett's stutter-go and Cutler's pass was off the mark.
The Vikings' coverage units hemorrhaged returns of 32, 68 and 42 yards to Hester, plus a 32-yarder to Davis on a line-drive kickoff with 2.4 hang time. PK Ryan Longwell's other three boots averaged 3.3 hang, with the biggest breakdown coming when S Tyrell Johnson got spun at the point; Abdullah -- on in place of injured coverage standout S Eric Frampton -- got caught up behind him; and Griffen was wiped out by a double team. Cook replaced Frampton as a punt-team gunner and appeared to get shoved in the back by Davis on Hester's big return. P Chris Kluwe's punt hung 4.5 and nearly reached the sideline; another bounced out at the 7 and a third was downed with no return. Backup CB Frank Walker's sad tackle attempts on multiple returns might get him benched once others are healthy. Longwell hit 36- and 33-yard field goals but banged a 39-yarder off the left upright, ending his perfect season. The snap and hold looked fine. Harvin averaged 25.2 yards on six kick returns with a long of 33.