Grading the Game: Bears
PASSING OFFENSE: C — Tarvaris Jackson returned after missing two games because of a groin strain. The quarterback completed only nine of 23 passes for 136 yards, but he did not throw an interception and finished with a 73.8 rating. This had to been seen as a positive considering Jackson threw four picks in his last appearance against the Lions in Week 2. Jackson's best pass of the day came on the last play of the first quarter, when he hit Troy Williamson with a 60-yard scoring strike that the receiver caught around the 10-yard line. Jackson and Williamson nearly connected on the same play later in the game. The second-year quarterback missed on a few other potential big plays, but he did not make any crucial mistakes.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A-plus — When your rookie running back rushes for a team-record 224 yards on 20 carries with three touchdowns (67, 73 and 35 yards) and the team gets 311 total yards on the ground, it's hard not to give the highest grade possible. Adrian Peterson's third 100-yard rushing performance in four games came in part because the Vikings found ways to use him more consistently. He essentially split the carries with Chester Taylor, who went for 83 yards on 22 carries. The offensive line, receivers and tight ends deserve credit for their blocking, but having a running back with moves like Peterson's makes it a whole lot easier to open holes.
PASS DEFENSE: C — Bears QB Brian Griese threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns, including two that enabled the Bears to tie the score at 31 with one minute, 38 seconds left in the game. S Dwight Smith was victimized on both late touchdowns. Muhsin Muhammad was able to get past Smith after catching the ball in traffic on a 33-yard score. Shortly thereafter, Devin Hester beat Smith for an 81-yard touchdown pass. Bernard Berrian had a 39-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter after CB Antoine Winfield got turned around and fell on the play. LB Ben Leber and Smith did intercept Griese, with Smith's pick coming just before Chicago made its late rally. The Bears, like so many teams, used multiple receiver formations that kept rookie CB Marcus McCauley on the field for much of the game. McCauley plays the left corner in the nickel defense.
RUSH DEFENSE: B — The Vikings held the Bears to 83 yards on the ground, and Cedric Benson led the way with 67 yards on 18 attempts. His longest dash went for only 12 yards. After pulling Pat Williams off the field for many snaps in their previous game against Green Bay, the Vikings left the nose tackle in on certain passing situations. This might have been related to the fact that DL Darrion Scott is out for the season because of injury. Scott often slid inside on passing situations.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C — This is an interesting one. On one hand, Hester had an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter that left several Vikings grabbing for air. On the other, Peterson's 53-yard kickoff return late in the game set up Ryan Longwell's winning 55-yard field goal. It was obvious the Vikings struggled with how to handle Hester. Eventually, they simply began having Chris Kluwe punt the ball out of bounds, which was the plan all along but wasn't executed. That wound up giving Chicago some very good field position.
COACHING: B — Give Brad Childress and Co. credit for figuring out that splitting the touches between Peterson and Taylor is all it might take to be successful. Here's guessing that Peterson's shortcomings in pass protection will soon be forgotten and the Rookie of the Year award will soon wrapped up. It might be already. It was an interesting move that after Peterson's 53-yard kickoff return late in the fourth quarter, the Vikings seemed to play for a field-goal attempt by Longwell. Fifty-five yards isn't exactly the perfect distance for the veteran kicker.
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