NFC North Report Card

The Bears secondary arguably had their worst performance of the year against Green Bay and deserved a poor mark for the effort. Here's a look at how the each team graded out.

BEARS REPORT CARD VS. PACKERS
PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus
-- Chad Hutchinson started the day with a beautiful first drive as the Bears moved 76 yards in four plays to take a 7-0 lead. The key play in that march was a 63-yard pass from Hutchinson to David Terrell -- the team's longest pass play of the season. Aside from that play, the Bears had 133 passing yards. The offensive line gave up nine sacks to a very ordinary Green Bay defensive front.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The Bears blocked fairly well for the run. Thomas Jones rushed for 108 yards, giving him 948 rushing yards for the year. While the Bears fell behind by three touchdowns before halftime, the running game was decent.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- It was simply go time for the Packers' receivers. The Bears secondary did not play one of its better games. Brett Favre and backup Craig Nall torched the Bears for 327 passing yards. If this game had meant anything for the Packers, they could have thrown for 500 yards or more.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Ahman Green played just a small role -- four carries for 13 yards, so the Packers turned their running game over to Tony Fisher. He was held in check, gaining just 42 yards on 19 carries.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus -- This is one game where special teams did not play much of a role. There were no big punt or kickoff returns for either team, and neither the Bears nor the Packers attempted a field goal.

COACHING: C-minus -- Head coach Lovie Smith wanted to lead the Bears to their first sweep of the Packers since 1991 and their first home win over Green Bay since 1993. Not only did the Bears fail, they appeared to lose interest in playing once they fell behind 21-7 early in the second quarter. While a win would not have changed the Bears' finish -- last place in the NFC North -- Smith talked extensively of ending on a positive note and taking that momentum into the offseason. They have to find new momentum following their poor performance in the season finale.

LIONS REPORT CARD VS. TITANS
PASSING OFFENSE: B
-- Except for a fourth-quarter interception, QB Joey Harrington had a solid day throwing the ball. Even without veterans Az-Zahir Hakim and Tai Streets, Harrington didn't miss a beat. He threw 13 balls to RBs Shawn Bryson and Kevin Jones, two (including a TD) to FB Cory Schlesinger, seven to tight ends Stephen Alexander and Casey FitzSimmons, and 11 to WRs Roy Williams, Reggie Swinton, Scotty Vines and David Kircus. Kircus and Vines, playing in place of injured Hakim and Streets, combined for four receptions for 58 yards.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- The Titans did a better job of limiting rookie RB Kevin Jones than any other team has done in the second half of the season. The Titans were able to get to him before he got started, thereby limiting him to 72 yards on 19 rushing attempts. With another 31 yards from Shawn Bryson and Harrington, the Lions gained only 103 yards for the day and showed a definite lack of confidence in the running game when they called three consecutive passing plays when they needed three yards on the final series of the game.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- First it was Titans backup QB Billy Volek, and when he was hurt, it was Doug Johnson, and the Lions didn't really stop either of them. Volek beat CB Andre Goodman on a 32-yard touchdown pass to WR Drew Bennett, and Johnson connected with TE Ben Troupe for a 33-yard gain to set up the Titans' final field goal in the fourth quarter. The Lions failed to sack either Tennessee QB.

RUN DEFENSE: B-minus -- Except for a 43-yard run by Antowain Smith, the Lions defense would have had an outstanding day against the Titans. In Smith's other 20 carries, he gained only 46 yards, but the 43-yard run in the third quarter set up Tennessee's deciding touchdown, which he scored on a two-yard run.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus -- K Jason Hanson reached the 100-point mark with two 26-yard field goals and an extra point and put one kickoff out of the end zone. P Nick Harris averaged 43.0 yards on five punts and dropped two inside the Tennessee 20-yard line, giving him a total of 32 inside the 20 for the season. Coverages were outstanding, but the return game -- with Pro Bowler Eddie Drummond finishing the season on injured reserve -- were average.

COACHING: C-minus -- The Titans were playing with a skeleton crew after a season of devastating injuries, but they still managed to knock off the Lions. The Lions didn't quit, but they fell short again. On their final possession of the game, needing a touchdown to win in the closing minute, they threw three times needing just three yards for a first down from the Titans 16. With RB Kevin Jones as a running threat, it might have been worth at least one shot.

PACKERS REPORT CARD VS. BEARS
PASSING OFFENSE: A
-- Brett Favre played just 20 snaps but passed for 197 yards and had a rating of 151.4. The Bears played eight in the box (SS Mike Green) all day, and the Packers killed them downfield. Javon Walker and Donald Driver made great catches with CB Jerry Azumah draped all over them. William Henderson undressed Green on a wheel route that he turned into a 38-yard touchdown, the longest reception of his 10-year career. Craig Nall replaced Favre in the second quarter and didn't miss a beat.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D-plus -- It was sickly, to say the least, with 60 yards in 30 carries. Having Ahman Green for only 16 snaps (4-13) didn't much help. Also, backup Najeh Davenport (shoulder, ribs) was inactive. That left Tony Fisher (19-42) to serve as featured back, and it's a role he isn't capable of fulfilling. The long gain was 10 yards. The Bears stacked the box and stopped the Packers dead.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- Al Harris blew a coverage on the Bears' first dropback of the game, and Chad Hutchinson's rainbow came down to David Terrell for 63 yards. Mark Roman missed the tackle, giving Terrell an extra 30. After that, the pedestrian Hutchinson's longest completion was just 19. The Packers amassed nine sacks, tying a club record. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila had four, all against cloddish LT Marc Columbo. Cletidus Hunt had one of his better games this season after being benched for Cullen Jenkins, a big-time hustler. NT Colin Cole had four knockdowns, three against lousy LG Steve Edwards.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- Thomas Jones banged for 108 yards, but it took him 26 carries to do it and his long was 18. The Packers had problems at SLB, where free agent Steve Josue played the last three quarters after Hannibal Navies rested his chronic shoulder after one series and Paris Lenon subsequently suffered a hyperextended left elbow. Josue was wired to blocks and slow to react. The tackling, for a change, was adequate.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D-plus -- Ryan Longwell kicked off well, but Bryan Barker punted poorly. Joey Thomas alertly covered RB Adrian Peterson on a fake punt pass but then was guilty of pass interference. Michael Hawthorne was penalized for being the 12th man on the field on a fourth-and-1 punt, gift-wrapping a first down for the Bears. R.W. McQuarters broke a total of seven tackles on punt returns.

COACHING: A-plus -- Mike Sherman refused to pander to those who insist you can't play starters in games that have no meaning in the playoff picture. Sherman said he wasn't doing that. He didn't want to be swept by the Bears. He wanted to finish with nine victories in his last 11 games. When his team bought in, they creamed an archrival, still got an opportunity to rest key guys and were jubilant in the locker room as they looked eagerly to the playoffs.

VIKINGS REPORT CARD VS. REDSKINS
PASSING OFFENSE: D
-- QB Daunte Culpepper finished with 299 yards passing and two touchdowns, but that included a meaningless 38-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Robinson with two seconds left. In the fourth quarter, WR Nate Burleson dropped what would have been a 54-yard touchdown pass, and WR Randy Moss' 62-yard touchdown catch was negated by a holding penalty on RT Adam Goldberg. Culpepper was sacked four times and pressured on numerous other plays. The Redskins overwhelmed the Vikings with perfectly timed blitzes and tight coverage downfield. TE Jermaine Wiggins had a team-high seven catches because Culpepper had to keep dumping the ball off to him.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- What rushing offense? The Vikings had just 52 yards on 18 carries (2.9). Michael Bennett started and rushed for 19 yards on eight carries (2.4). Onterrio Smith, who had missed the Packers game a week ago, had five carries for five yards. Moe Williams had four yards on three carries. Culpepper led the team with 24 yards on two scrambles.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- The Vikings' weak pass defense showed up on the sixth play of the game when Patrick Ramsey, the second-worst passer in the NFC (rating: 72.0), easily completed an 11-yard pass on third-and-9. The Redskins went on to score a touchdown and never trailed. Ramsey was 5 of 7 passing on third down for 50 yards and a touchdown. He completed passes to five different receivers on third down. The Redskins' clinching touchdown was set up by a 45-yard pass to the Vikings 1 early in the fourth quarter. The play happened because CB Antoine Winfield lined up on the wrong side of the field. He lined up on the wrong side because the coaches put him in the game on a tender left ankle because CB Terrance Shaw was getting destroyed. Winfield, who has battled a high left ankle sprain the last four weeks, started out playing only third downs in the nickel. His injury has been a major blow to the Vikings defense.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- The Vikings should have dominated this area -- Redskins RB Clinton Portis (1,315 yards rushing) was out because of a torn pectoral muscle. But Portis' backup, Ladell Betts, hammered away at the Vikings for 118 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries (4.5). One of the carries was a 27-yard gain on third-and-4 with the Vikings scrambling to get the ball back with 4:55 left in the game.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- The Vikings' 32nd-ranked kickoff coverage unit set the tone for Sunday's game when it allowed Antonio Brown to return the opening kickoff 66 yards to the Vikings 32. James Thrash later returned a kickoff 36 yards. While other areas of the special teams have improved, kickoff coverage remains a trouble spot.

COACHING: F -- The Vikings got lucky by making the playoffs despite an 8-8 record. For the second consecutive season, they finished off a 3-7 slide with a loss on the road against a non-playoff team. The Redskins were without Clinton Portis, LaVar Arrington and Fred Smoot, among others. Patrick Ramsey entered the game with a 72.0 passer rating but posted a 100.8 rating against the Vikings. Coach Mike Tice and his players have insisted all season that this season wasn't the same as last season. Actually, it was worse than last year, when they missed the playoffs at 9-7. Last year, the Vikings beat playoff teams such as Green Bay, Kansas City and Seattle. This year, the only team with a winning record that the Vikings beat was Jacksonville (9-7).


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