Grading The Game: Bears

A mixed bag of performances get an eclectic report card following a 28-3 loss in Chicago.

PASSING OFFENSE: D — Daunte Culpepper failed to lead the Vikings to an offensive touchdown for the second time this season, and he doesn't even resemble the player who was an MVP candidate a season ago. The quarterback passed for 237 yards (26-of-48) but also threw two interceptions and had a 50.4 rating. Cornerback Charles Tillman had the biggest pick of the day, jumping in front of a ball intended for receiver Troy Wiliamson and going 55 yards to put the ball on the Minnesota 3-yard line to set up an easy touchdown. Culpepper now has thrown 12 interceptions this season, one more than he had during the entire 2004 regular season. Culpepper dumped the ball off more than he took downfield shots, leading to a career high 10 catches for tight end Jermaine Wiggins. His longest completion was a 31-yarder to Travis Taylor.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus — Mewelde Moore led the Vikings with 57 yards on 14 carries, but 25 of those yards came on his second rush of the game in the first quarter. Michael Bennett has become a complete non-factor, and had only three carries for 8 yards against the Bears. Culpepper, troubled by a sore right knee, only scrambled once. The fact opponents know Culpepper has trouble running is a huge advantage. The Vikings made two changes in the offensive line with Melvin Fowler taking over at center and Adam Goldberg at right guard. Goldberg had two of the five penalties that were called on the line.

PASS DEFENSE: B-minus — Bears quarterback Kyle Orton threw for only 117 yards, was sacked three times and intercepted once. He did throw two touchdown passes, but those were for 3 and 2 yards to tight end Desmond Clark. With starting left end Kenechi Udeze out for the season after knee surgery and backup Spencer Johnson unable to play Sunday because of a knee injury, the Vikings played mostly a 3-4 defense with Kevin Williams and Darrion Scott on the ends, Pat Williams in the middle and Sam Cowart, E.J. Henderson, Keith Newman and Raonall Smith at linebacker. Pat Williams had his best game as a Viking, tying for the team lead with seven tackles and forcing a fumble. Although the Vikings have mixed in a 3-4 look this season, this was the most extensively they had played it and likely caught Chicago a bit by surprise.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus — After giving up 285 yards on the ground in their previous game against Atlanta, the Vikings were able to hold the Bears to 95 yards. Thomas Jones rushed for 89 of those on 23 carries (3.9 average) and also had two touchdowns. Jones' most damaging dash came in the fourth quarter when he went 24 yards for a touchdown to give the Bears a 21-3 lead.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus — An area that had been one of the Vikings' few strengths this season had its worst performance of the season. Kicker Paul Edinger, making his return to Chicago, missed a 52-yard field goal, had a 32-yarder blocked and didn't get off his first attempt because backup quarterback Brad Johnson couldn't handle the snap. Punt returner Keenan Howry, back after being deactivated in the previous game, and kick returner Koren Robinson took care of the ball but failed to find any holes. Howry returned three punts for a paltry 3.7 average.

COACHING: D — Owner Zygi Wilf continues to say that Mike Tice's job is safe, but a few more performances like this and one has to believe a move could be made before the season is finished. The Vikings brought longtime coaches Jerry Rhome (offense) and Foge Fazio (defense) out of retirement during the bye week, but that certainly didn't pay off offensively against Chicago as the Vikings' failed to score a touchdown. Tice already has tried team meetings to get his message across, but at this point it appears he has lost his players.

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