The film is clear. Chris Cook anticipated more help on the Bears' game-winning touchdown, but there were a number of breakdowns on the way to that moment that contributed to the Minnesota Vikings failing to get their first win at Soldier Field since 2007.
The Vikings were in position to put the game away when Letroy Guion stripped Bears RB Matt Forte of the ball with 6:28 left to play and Minnesota already holding a 27-24 lead.
QB Christian Ponder completed three of four passes for 41 yards on the Vikings' final drive, including the first three to Jerome Simpson (12 yards), John Carlson (7 yards) and Greg Jennings (22 yards). They had the ball first-and-goal on the 6-yard line with 3:33 to play.
RB Adrian Peterson went off left tackle for 2 yards on first down and the Bears used their first timeout. On second down, Ponder used a play-action fake to Peterson and rolled to his right. He had a little too much on his pass to Kyle Rudolph and admitted the ball sailed on him.
That second-down pass, along with a third-down run by Peterson off left tackle that was stopped for no gain, has caused second-guessing on two levels: Should the Vikings have run all three times to force Chicago to burn all three timeouts instead of two, or should they have been more aggressive and thrown the ball into the end zone two or three times in trying to end the game right there with a 10-point lead?
Instead, they settled for a field goal and a six-point lead with 3:15 to play.
"We tried a pass after a run on second down, came so close to getting it done there, but we came up a little short," Frazier said. "We came back with a run believing that there was an opportunity there for us with the run that we had called – we had had success with it earlier, thinking we may have had them set up for a potential pass on the third-down situation. It didn't work. You know, it didn't work. It's easy to go back and say, ‘Well we should have passed it.' Well if we passed it and it's incomplete or it doesn't turn out the way we want it to, maybe in hindsight you say, ‘We should have ran it.' But we decided to run it, we didn't get the touchdown and we ended up kicking the field goal."
But the bigger issue – raised by Frazier and something for which he assumed blame – was how the Vikings defense handled the Bears' ensuing touchdown drive.
QB Jay Cutler took the Bears 66 yards in 10 plays in 3:05, with the final dagger a 16-yard touchdown pass to TE Martellus Bennett. But all along the way there were breakdowns.
On second-and-12 at the 50-yard line, WR Alshon Jeffery caught one of five passes that went for more than 10-yard gain on that series and it resulted in LB Chad Greenway motioning to rookie CB Xavier Rhodes as if the coverage wasn't right.
One play after Brandon Marshall shoved Josh Robinson to the ground and gained 10 yards on third-and-1, Rhodes helped make amends by leaping high and tipping away a pass intended for Jeffery inside the 5-yard line.
It was what happened after that seemed to bother Frazier the most.
With a holding penalty on Chicago, the Bears were facing first-and-20, but Bennett came across the coverage and LB Erin Henderson allowed the tight end to run past him, as if he believed there was help to his right. Greenway admitted there was miscommunication on that play but, like all of the players, didn't want to get into specifics.
"Not necessarily a (busted coverage), but there are some things that have to happen for that defense to be effective in that situation," Frazier said of that play. "Part of it is, there are some things I need to talk to them about even before that play occurs and there was time to do that. … But they handled it the right way. There are just some things I need to talk through with them, as well as the coaches. It's something we actually worked on during the week, but there was something we need to handle a little bit better if we get in that situation again."
Two plays later, following a spike and an incompletion, Cutler and Bennett were putting the final touches on their game-winning drive.
Facing third-and-10 from the 16-yard line with 16 seconds to play, safety Jamarca Sanford walked down to the line of scrimmage before the snap, leaving the Vikings with single-high safety coverage (Harrison Smith) behind the cornerbacks. The Bears had two receivers split to their right, including Brandon Marshall, with WR Earl Bennett and TE Martellus Bennett to the left of the formation.
CB Chris Cook can be seen on film motioning for help to his side of the field as he looks at Sanford coming to the line and then back at Smith. Earl Bennett ran a post and the tight end found enough room between Cook and the sideline for a 16-yard touchdown.
"They just did a twist release, something that we've seen before. Like I said, a few guys were off. And when guys are off, other guys try to cover it to help them out, and things happen. It's football, man. It's a fast game," Cook said.
"I wouldn't say it was miscommunication and guys getting beat."
Cook agreed with Frazier's sentiment that the defensive call had been run before.
"It was a call we made in the first half when we were on the goal line," Frazier said. "We called it back to back, when they tried those fade balls. We just didn't execute it as well and it cost us. That's something we worked on, something we executed well in the first half, but we didn't get it executed there."
Frazier said he "probably" would have called a timeout in that situation "if I could turn the wheels of time back."
Overall, Frazier said the defense played well and played "winning football."
When it came crunch time, however, the breakdown occurred.
"We work on it in that area of the field often. We used it a season ago as well, and we used it in the first half as well," Frazier said. "So it's a defense that we've run before. We just didn't get it executed in that situation. We have a few different things that we do with 20 seconds left, with 10 seconds left in a game and we have a couple different calls, but we do have a go-to call that they know that we like."
But that still wasn't enough to secure the win.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
In depth: Film, Frazier explain the breakdown
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