PASSING OFFENSE: C — The Vikings failed to reach the end zone via the run or the pass for the second consecutive game. Brad Johnson completed 21 of 31 passes but threw for only 194 yards. His 84.6 quarterback rating was an improvement on the 72.4 he posted the previous week against Carolina. Johnson's primary receiver was Travis Taylor, who caught six passes for 82 yards but also had a crucial second-quarter fumble after a 20-yard reception that would have put Minnesota at the Chicago 28-yard line. Troy Williamson, playing with an injured shoulder, caught four passes for 39 yards. He also had a big play erased when he was called for pass interference while catching a pass that would have put the Vikings at the Chicago 38. Instead, the Vikings were left in second-and-13 from their own 16-yard line. Somewhat surprisingly, tight end Jermaine Wiggins caught only one pass and has only three catches in the past two games.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C — Chester Taylor had his third game with 20 or more carries but was held below 100 yards rushing for the second time in those three contests. This time he gained 74 yards, giving him an average of 3.7 yards per touch. That included a long run of 24 yards. Taylor, who had 12 of his rushes in the first half, was involved in one of the game's crucial plays when Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris forced a fumble in the fourth quarter as Brad Johnson tried to handoff. The Bears recovered and scored the winning touchdown on the ensuing drive. Running back Mewelde Moore, used primarily in third-down situations, had a season-high three carries for 23 yards. The Vikings' high-priced offensive line continues to come together as a unit. On the key fumble, which came on a trap play, right guard Steve Hutchinson was pulling, meaning center Matt Birk was supposed to pick up Tommie Harris. However, Harris anticipated the snap count and blew past Birk.
PASS DEFENSE: C — Starting left end Darrion Scott had the Vikings' only sack, but this unit continued to apply pressure and defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin proved again that he is running much more than a Tampa-2 scheme. Tomlin isn't afraid to send blitzes and linebacker Napoleon Harris is a threat to come after the quarterback at any time. Despite the pressure, Bears quarterback Rex Grossman threw for 278 yards and receiver Muhsin Muhammad had nine catches for 118 yards. Rashied Davis had the biggest catch of the day, beating nickel back Ronyell Whitaker to haul in the winning 24-yard touchdown with 1:53 left in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Antoine Winfield returned an interception 7 yards for a touchdown that gave the Vikings a temporary lead early in the final quarter.
RUSH DEFENSE: B — The Vikings held Chicago to only 51 yards on the ground on 21 carries, an average of 2.4 yards. Running back Thomas Jones was largely ineffective running for 54 yards on 18 carries with a long of 17 yards; Rex Grossman was the only other player to carry the ball for the Bears and he lost 3 yards on three carries. The Vikings continue to rotate their defensive linemen in and out of the game in an attempt to keep them fresh.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus — Kicker Ryan Longwell made all three of his field-goal attempts and could have a huge season if the Vikings' offense continues to stall near and inside the red zone. Longwell was inconsistent with his kickoffs, putting one first-half kick to the Chicago 8 but then booming two in the second half into the Chicago end zone and another 3 yards deep. Running back Artose Pinner got an opportunity on kickoff returns, being used in place of Troy Williamson on four occasions. Pinner hasn't had much experience in this area and it was obvious he wasn't looking to make a huge splash. Pinner averaged 19 yards on his returns but did a good job keeping the ball secure. Williamson, playing with an injured shoulder, returned two kicks for a 21.5-yard average. Punter Chris Kluwe had a net average of 36.8 yards after having a net of 40.9 a week earlier.
COACHING: C — This grade might have been higher but for a curious play call by Brad Childress on the Vikings' final drive. Facing a third-and-7 from their own 41-yard line, Mewelde Moore ran over right guard for a 5-yard gain. The run set up fourth-and-2 at the 46 with 1:10 left. Instead of running the ball or going with a short pass to get the first down, Brad Johnson threw a deep ball down the right sideline for Troy Williamson. Williamson never came close to catching the ball and the Bears quarterback Rex Grossman was able to take a knee three times to run out the clock. Childress was aggressive early, challenging the spot after Thomas Jones had fumbled a 3-yard pass and the Bears recovered for what appeared to be additional yardage. The call was overturned and instead of being at the Vikings' 27-yard line, the Bears were backed up 2 yards to the 29.
Grading the Game: Bears
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