The Vikings were outgained 468 yards to 243, allowed five plays of 27 yards or more, didn’t sack QB Jay Cutler once and rushed their tailbacks only nine times despite either holding the lead or having less than a touchdown deficit midway into the fourth quarter.
It was a bad all-around performance, yielding 138 yards rushing and 330 yards passing on defense and rarely taking a downfield shot on offense. The takeaways on went wrong were many, and what went right were few.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Josh Robinson defending tall receivers: Vikings CB Josh Robinson struggled all game long defending the Bears’ tall receivers. All three touchdowns passes came against Robinson, a 27-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery and a 44-yard pass to Brandon Marshall in the first half, and a 4-yard pass to Marshall in the fourth quarter.
Third-down defense: The Vikings gave up a first down on 10 of 17 third downs that the Bears faced while only converting 2 of 11 on their own third downs. The Bears also converted 2 of 3 fourth-down tries. The only two times the Vikings stopped the Bears on third downs in the first half were on third-and-21 and third-and-16.
Containing the runners: The Vikings came into the game with their primary focus on containing Bears RB Matt Forte. They didn’t. Forte rushed for 117 yards on 26 carries – a 4.5-yard average – and caught six passes for 58 yards. As much of a concern for Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was that Cutler was given running and throwing lanes when the defensive line didn’t contain their gap control. Cutler ran five times for 21 yards.
Finding the wide receivers: Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed only one pass – a 4-yard pickup to Greg Jennings – to his top three wide receivers in the first three quarters. No. 4 receiver Charles Johnson caught six passes for 87 yards, but Cordarrelle Patterson was only targeted three times, with two catches for 24 yards – both of those in the fourth quarter. The Vikings threw the ball downfield (16 yards or more) only four times in the game, accounting for two completions and an interception.
Running the ball: Despite the Vikings taking a 10-0 lead and either holding the lead or being within four points of the lead until midway through the fourth quarter, they gained only 40 yards with their tailbacks. Jerick McKinnon, who suffered a lower back injury on Thursday, averaged 4.8 yards per carry, but rushed only eight times for 38 yards. Matt Asiata had only one run for 2 yards.
The re-insertion of Kyle Rudolph: The Vikings’ biggest pass-catching threat at tight end played for the first time since Week 3, when it was determined he should receive surgery to a sports hernia that had become increasingly more troublesome since training camp. Rudolph, however, wasn’t targeted once in the passing game and was called for holding once.
Locked down: Punter Jeff Locke averaged 37 yards net on his four punts, but he mis-hit two of them for only 35 and 33 yards.
Pass rush: The Vikings entered the game with 30 sacks, but they didn’t get to Cutler once. Much of Cutler’s early passes focused on quick releases, but he still attempted eight passes of 16 yards or more, giving the Vikings some opportunity to get to him. They didn’t, credited with only four quarterback hurries.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
A gimmick play: The Vikings don’t attempt fakes often, but Andrew Sendejo ended up as their leading rusher when he picked up 48 yards on a fake punt. Sendejo took the ball around left end and found blocking down to the 7-yard line, setting up Minnesota’s only touchdown of the game, a 7-yard pass to tight end Rhett Ellison.
Charles Johnson’s emergence: The Vikings had tried to get their 2014 in-season acquisition involved before in the deep passing game, but Johnson became the primary target for Bridgewater on Sunday. Three of the five longest plays the Vikings had went to Johnson on catches of 17, 24 and 21 yards. He caught six of the seven passes thrown his way for 87 yards. Unfortunately, the last pass of the game – an interception in the end zone – was also intended for him.
Smith staying strong: Safety Harrison Smith had his fourth interception of the season and returned it 52 yards to the Bears 27-yard line. The Vikings managed only 7 yards on that drive before Blair Walsh pushed a 38-yard field goal attempt wide right.