X-and-O Show: Vikings vs. Bears

Jeremy Stoltz goes to the film room to break down one offensive snap and one defensive snap for the Chicago Bears from Monday's 36-30 heartstopping win over the Vikings in Week 16 at Soldier Field.

Bears on Defense: Another Peterson Fumble
Overtime. 1st and 10 at the Minnesota 17-yard line. The Vikings line up in a strong-left, power-I set with QB Brett Favre under center. FB Naufahu Tahi and RB Adrian Peterson are stacked in the backfield. Receivers are split wide on either side. The Bears counter with a base 4-3. Just before the snap, LB Nick Roach and FS Josh Bullocks creep up to the weak side of the line, both indicating blitz.

At the snap, Roach and Bullocks blitz off the weak-side edge. Neither defender is blocked, giving both a free shot at the quarterback. At the same time, Peterson swings wide right into the flat. Favre takes a two-step drop and throws a swing pass to Peterson. LB Hunter Hillenmeyer comes up to make the tackle in the flat, but Peterson uses a stutter step to get to the outside and around the linebacker. In the secondary, CB Zack Bowman fights off the block of WR Sidney Rice and forces Peterson to the sideline. This gives Hillenmeyer time to catch up to the runner and tackle him. Just before Peterson goes down, though, Hillenmeyer punches the ball free from behind. The ball is fumbled, and Roach picks it up for the turnover.

This was a play where nearly everyone on both sides of the ball did everything right. The blitz was well-timed and unblocked, yet Favre made the right decision to quickly get the ball out to his back in the flat. Hillenmeyer was unable to make the tackle initially, but he's going to lose that one-on-one battle nine times out of 10. Yet he didn't give up on the play and chased Peterson down the sideline. The real hero on this play was Bowman, who fought off the block from Rice and didn't allow Peterson a cutback lane. Because of that, the runner had to make a cut step along the sideline, allowing Hillenmeyer a chance to make the tackle and force the fumble. It was a well-executed play that led to the game-winning score.

WR Devin Aromashodu
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel

Bears on Offense: Go, Stop, Go
Overtime. 1st down and 10 at the Chicago 32-yard line. The Bears line up in a strong-right, power-I set with QB Jay Cutler under center. FB Jason McKie and RB Matt Forte are stacked in the backfield. WR Devin Aromashodu is wide right, and WR Earl Bennett is split left. The Vikings employ a 4-3 defense with eight men in the box. LBs Jasper Brinkley and Ben Leber, as well as SS Tyrell Johnson, are up on the line of scrimmage showing blitz.

At the snap, only Brinkley blitzes up the middle-right. Cutler drops back to pass, while both receivers, as well as TE Desmond Clark, release downfield. Forte and McKie stay in to help pick up the blitz, which is overloaded on the right side. This leaves LT Chris Williams all alone on the weak side to block DE Jared Allen. The blitz is picked up well on the strong side, while on the back side, Allen uses a swim move but can't get any leverage. Williams then drives Allen deep into the backfield, allowing Cutler to step into the pocket. At the same time, Aromashodu runs a go route but breaks it off after 20 yards and stops at the 50-yard line. Cutler fires the pass to him along the sideline. Aromashodu catches the ball, then steps inside and scampers another 15 yards before being brought down at the Minnesota 35-yard line.

It looks as if the Bears have found the No. 1 receiver they for years have been searching for. Aromashodu, the tallest receiver on the team, ended the day with seven catches for 150 yards and the game-winning touchdown. On this play, there is demonstrated a chemistry and trust between him and the QB that has not been present all year with Cutler and the other receivers. Aromashodu begins his pattern straight down the field but then looks back and sees the blitz. He makes the correct decision to stop in his tracks with the defender still giving him a 10-yard cushion and makes the catch-and-run to put Chicago in field-goal position. If these two continue to develop next season, they could create something special. Additionally, Williams did a great job of blocking Allen all night, not allowing one of the best pass rushers in the game to get anywhere near the QB. One has to wonder how much more productive this line would have been all season had Williams been on the left side instead of the washed-up Orlando Pace.

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Jeremy Stoltz is the editor-in-chief of The Business Ledger, the business newspaper for suburban Chicago. He is a regular contributor to Bear Report and BearReport.com.

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