Just how bad was the Bears' domination Sunday night? They spent most of their time in Vikings territory and made it their own playground. The stats show just how much time they spent on Minnesota side of the field. Plus, get two dozen notes to further explain the Chicago carnage.
The Vikings have found many ways to lose this year. Typically the formula was to get a big lead and squander it in the second half. Sunday night in their 39-10 blowout loss to Chicago, the Vikings got dominated by the Bears to the extent that what was called Vikings territory was in fact Bears territory.
For the game, Chicago's offense ran 60 plays. Of those, they ran 34 of them in Vikings territory beyond the 50-yard.
That number alone could explain how the Bears rolled to a 39-10 win over the Vikings, but, what makes it worse is that, in an effort to simply run out the clock in the fourth quarter, the Bears took their final 11 snaps on their own side of the 50-yard line. That makes a bad number for the Vikings even more troubling.
From the start of Sunday's game until the Bears got the ball with 10 minutes to play, when they started to pull out starters, they had spent almost their entire night on the Vikings end of the Big "C" – perhaps in record numbers.
In those final two drives, the Bears ran 12 offensive plays, only one in Vikings territory. Could have they have crossed midfield had they kept the same offensive style that got them to that point? There's no reason to think they wouldn't.
Of their first 48 plays, the Bears ran 33 of them – 69 percent of their offensive plays – on the Vikings' side of the field and just 15 on their own end. What makes that number even more disturbing is that six of their first seven drives started on their own 32, their own 31, their own 44, their own 10, their own 28 and their own 34-yard line, respectively. Of the 15 plays they ran from their own side of the field, they had no other option on six of them because that was where their drives started.
The Vikings have found a lot of ways to lose in their disappointing 2011 season, but Sunday night was the first time they have been pounded into submission by an opponent and, given the field position the Bears had so consistently all night, there is plenty of blame to go around.
Christian Ponder made his NFL debut in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game and, while he didn't lead the Vikings to any points, he didn't look bad in moving the team down the field. In just two drives in the fourth quarter, he completed 9 of 17 passes for 99 yards and rushed once for eight yards and a first down.
For the historical record, Ponder completed his first pass to Adrian Peterson and picked up his initial passing first down on a throw to Percy Harvin. His first TD will have to wait … but how long that is remains up in the air.
The loss came with a price, as the Vikings lost right offensive tackle Phil Loadholt late in the first half to a bruised knee, according to head coach Leslie Frazier, and lost both center John Sullivan and safety Jamarca Sanford to concussions in the second half. Loadholt was replaced by Pat Brown and Sullivan was replaced by Joe Berger. Former starter Tyrell Johnson replaced Sanford.
Peterson lost the battle of the running backs with Matt Forte. Peterson scored the only touchdown of the two, but rushed just 12 times for 39 yards and a TD and caught one pass for no yards. Forte didn't score, but rushed 17 times for 87 yards and caught six passes for 36 yards to pace the Chicago offense.
It seems the Vikings can't win for losing against Devin Hester. The Bears got into prime scoring position twice because of embarrassingly short punts from Chris Kluwe because they didn't want to kick to Hester. When they let him try to return a kickoff, he brought it back 98 yards for a touchdown. The only time they gave him a real chance to return a punt, he brought it back 27 yards to set up yet another Bears score.
Hester now has 17 career returns for touchdowns – four kickoffs, 12 punts and one missed field goal. Of those 17, four have come against the Vikings.
Through five games, the Bears' signing of former Cowboys Marion Barber and Roy Williams looked like a waste of roster spots. Barber had rushed just six times for 20 yards and Williams had caught just six passes for 81 yards. Sunday night, Barber rushed 11 times for 32 yards and a touchdown and Williams caught three passes for 50 yards.
Jared Allen tied the franchise record for most consecutive games with a sack, getting a strip-sack on Jay Cutler that gave him nine games in a row with a sack and gave the Vikings their only burst of momentum in the second half. He now has 9.5 sacks on the season.
The Vikings' woes weren't completely the fault of Donovan McNabb. He completed 19 of 24 passes for 177 yards. He only had five incompletions the entire game and three of those could be viewed as drops by his receivers. However, he got sacked five times – four of them coming on his final six snaps from center. Things got so bad, NBC caught a shot of McNabb's mother leaving the stadium after the fourth third-quarter sack.
Percy Harvin caught seven passes for 78 yards to take the team lead in receptions with 25, one more than Michael Jenkins.
After catching just two passes in the first five weeks of the season, Bernard Berrian caught five passes for 54 yards.
Given the deficit the Vikings were facing, Peterson ran the ball just four times in the second half, after being held to 16 yards on eight carries in the first half.
McNabb completed 15 of 19 passes in the first half for 138 yards, but was outdone by Jay Cutler, who completed 14 of 20 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns.
Forte had 84 total yards in the first half (68 rushing, 16 receiving), while Peterson had just 16 yards (all rushing).
For the second time this season, the Vikings pulled out the Blazer formation – their version of the Wildcat with Joe Webb at quarterback. After picking up a first down on a 17-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph for the initial first down of the game, just as happened in San Diego in Week 1, the Vikings trotted out the Blazer package with Webb and ran two plays that gained three yards and brought McNabb back in facing a third-and-7. They ran the formation right before the two-minute warning of the first half and gained one yard on a third-and-4 situation. The play would lead to the Vikings' fourth-down gaffe where they initially opted to kick a field goal, called time out and brought the offense back, had a false start call on Jenkins and then missed a 38-yard field goal.
In the first five games of the season, the Vikings had outscored their opponents 89-19 in the first half. Sunday night, the Bears put up 26 points in the first 30 minutes.
The Vikings have now been outscored 100-29 in the second half of games.
The Vikings spent the entire first half pinned deep in their own territory. Of their seven drives in the first half, their starting position was their own 20-, 20-, 5-, 20-, 8-, 9- and 17-yard lines. The Bears opened their first-half drives on their own 32-, 31-, 45-, 44-, 10- and 28-yard lines and one drive on the Vikings 33-yard line.
At one point in the first quarter, the Bears had outgained the Vikings 151-3.
Prior to Sunday night, the biggest deficit the Vikings had faced at any point in the first half of their first five games was three points.
The Bears' score on their first drive was the first time all season that the Vikings defense had allowed a touchdown on the opening drive of a game.
The weather was definitely "Bear weather" – the game-time temperature was 54 degrees with swirling winds.
The Bears winning wasn't a shocker in Week 6. Of the 12 games Sunday, the only home teams that lost were division leaders Detroit and Washington.
In all, five teams that were either alone in first place or tied for first place in their divisions lost Sunday – Buffalo, Houston, Washington, Detroit and New Orleans.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.