Coaches talked last week about the level of play from the defense, specifically about the run fits and such in practice, but the result on the field Sunday was another catastrophe, with Adrian Peterson running for 211 yards and Minnesota finishing with 246 yards rushing after the St. Louis Rams netting 258 last Sunday.
The Vikings averaged 6.2 yards per rush, most of it coming on Peterson’s 6.0-yard average, but the lack of gap integrity on the 33-yard touchdown run by receiver Cordarelle Patterson out of the backfield was an embarrassment. Coaches are not tasked with making tackles but something remains absent with the overall defense when Matt Cassel can come off the bench and send the Bears spiraling down from a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
An offense that puts up 480 yards, including 135 on the ground and 355 passing (minus 10 on four sacks) is difficult to fault. But the offense was also struggling for momentum and rhythm, failing to exploit several crucial opportunities of field position – Devin Hester’s 57-yard kickoff return late in the fourth quarter, at the Chicago 47 after a Minnesota missed field goal in overtime.
Coach Marc Trestman stated his reasons for going for a game-winning field goal on second down with the ball at the Minnesota 29 late in overtime. He did not want to risk a fumble, penalty, fluke play or simple offensive failure. But the net is that he took the ball out of the hands of his offense that had put together a 480-yard game and which Trestman acknowledged was running the ball with some effectiveness.
Robbie Gould’s try from 47 yards quite possibly would have still been wide right even with the Bears moving the ball closer. But the Vikings had the ball with a first down at the Chicago 31 and opted to run another two plays, runs by Peterson for four and 11 yards, which set the ball at the 16 and kicker Blair Walsh up for his game-winner from 34 yards.
Players understood this was a de facto playoff game but were not able to take over a game that Minnesota was waiting to lose.
“The accountability starts with me,” Trestman said. “We didn’t do well enough today to win and that starts with me and I take responsibility for that.”