It was a matchup that the Vikings thought they could dominate, but Cutler consistently made plays from the pocket and on the move, keeping the Vikings a half-step too late in getting to him. Defensive lineman Everson Griffen believes that has to change when the teams play for the second time in three weeks Sunday at the Metrodome. As he views it, it all starts with getting pressure on Cutler from the front four.
"Jay Cutler, he's a leader," Griffen said. "A tough guy. Cocky. He just likes to play ball. We love to go up against guys like that. Our defensive line has just got to step up and dominate their offensive line and just have everything else work off us."
Like many NFL quarterbacks, if Cutler stays clean in the pocket, he can make the throws that can kill a defense. But, when pressured, he is prone to making the mistakes that can turn a game around. When the Vikings have been their most successful defensively, they have been able to create pressure from their front four and let the back end of the defense make plays.
If the Vikings are to even the score with Chicago Sunday, much of the onus will be on the front four creating the kind of pressure needed to make Cutler uncomfortable and throw the kind of passes that have frustrated Bears fans during the down times.
"Cutler is a gunslinger," Griffen said. "At the end of the day, we've just got to maintain him in the pocket, put pressure on him and stop the run. That's the biggest thing. If we can stop the run early and get our ears pulled back to go up against their offensive line, we've just got to beat them down and make plays."
"There's something missing in each check," Smith said. "It's a reminder every week and it's get old after a while."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.