PASSING OFFENSE: F — This is an area that is in disarray. Brad Johnson threw four interceptions with no touchdowns and had a career-low 10.3 passer rating before being lifted in favor of Brooks Bollinger in the third quarter. Bollinger led the Vikings on their only touchdown drive but injured his left (non-throwing) shoulder in the fourth quarter and was replaced by rookie Tarvaris Jackson. So who does coach Brad Childress turn to next? With four games left, he could go back to Johnson or look to the future and make Jackson his starter. The Vikings' receivers weren't much better than Johnson on Sunday, dropping eight passes.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B — Chester Taylor and Ciatrick Fason sparked a rushing attack that combined for a season-high 192 yards on 35 carries (5.5 average) and one touchdown. Taylor gained 99 yards on 17 carries before leaving because of a rib injury. Fason went for 75 yards on 11 caries and a score running behind an offensive line that includes Jason Whittle at right guard and Mike Rosenthal at right tackle for most of the game. Those two again replaced the injured Artis Hicks and Marcus Johnson. Rookie Ryan Cook also got in for about five series in place of Rosenthal.
PASS DEFENSE: A — Yes, Bears QB Rex Grossman was awful (6-for-19 for 34 yards with three interceptions, no touchdowns and a 1.3 quarterback rating) but the Vikings pass defense did rebound after some extremely poor outings that dropped the unit to 31st in the NFL. LBs Napoleon Harris and Ben Leber and CB Antoine Winfield had the Vikings' interceptions.
RUSH DEFENSE: B — The NFL's top-ranked run defense finally had an opponent attempt to establish the run game. After having their past two opponents attempt only 19 runs, the Bears ran the ball 25 times for 83 yards (3.3-yard average). Cedric Benson had the Bears' longest scamper of the day, gaining 24 of his 60 yards on Chicago's lone touchdown run. Big-time run-stopping NT Pat Williams saw substantial action despite playing with a knee injury that dropped his status to doubtful at one point.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D — For the second consecutive week, this unit gave up a return for a touchdown. This time it was a 45-yard punt return for a score by Bears rookie Devin Hester. The previous week it was a 99-yard return by Arizona's J.J. Arrington on the opening kickoff of the game. Hester also took over on kickoff returns and had a long of 27 after Rashied Davis fumbled away the opening kick of the game. P Chris Kluwe struggled in the cold and wind, averaging a season-low 31.1 gross yards and 19.9 net. K Ryan Longwell did make both of his field-goal attempts, hitting from 23 and 30 yards.
COACHING: C — This is probably being generous. Once again coach Brad Childress' play-calling was curious at times, and the Vikings' casual use of the clock while trailing in the second half was a mystery to all who saw the team embark on an 11-play, 6-minute, 34-second scoring drive in the fourth quarter while trailing 23-6. Defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, once again, got the most from his group, but special teams coordinator Paul Ferraro could not have been happy after seeing the Vikings give up a return for a touchdown for the second consecutive week. With four games left, Childress might be smart at this point to call this season what it is: a rebuilding campaign that was designed to give him a look at what he had.
Grading the Game: Bears
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