Grading the game: Bears

A late-season upset loss with the playoffs in sight will bring out the concerns on the report card. Several phases of the Vikings' team were lacking Monday night in Chicago and the grades reflect that.

PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus — Brett Favre completed five of nine passes for an anemic 36 yards in the first half before throwing for 285 in the second half and overtime. He also had two touchdown passes, including a 6-yarder to Sidney Rice with 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter to tie the score, and no interceptions as he completed 26 of 40 passes. Rice, who is Favre's favorite target, caught six passes for 56 yards, and TE Visanthe Shiancoe had four receptions for 40 yards with a touchdown. The Vikings had made it clear they wanted to get back to the run game, but even though they were playing in frigid conditions, Favre threw the ball seven more times than Minnesota ran it. Favre was sacked three times, including twice on the Vikings' first possession of the extra session.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus — Adrian Peterson's costly fumble that enabled Chicago to get the ball for its winning drive in overtime actually came after a pass reception by the running back. Peterson finished with 94 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns and now has gone a career-high six consecutive games without a 100-yard effort. Some of this is on Peterson and some is on the fact the offensive line has struggled. The Vikings had 123 yards rushing total, as Chester Taylor picked up 29 yards on eight carries and actually was effective early on.

PASS DEFENSE: D — Jay Cutler led the NFL with 25 interceptions thrown entering Monday. But suddenly the quarterback looked like the guy who had so much success in Denver. Cutler completed 20 of 35 passes for 273 yards with a season-high four touchdowns and only one interception. His passer rating was 108.4. One of the biggest issues for the Vikings was the success that Cutler had throwing the ball to TEs Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen. The two combined for eight catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Part of the issue is that rookie MLB Jasper Brinkley, who has replaced the injured E.J. Henderson, just might not be ready to assume this big of role in the defense at this point in his career. Cutler's top receiver was Devin Aromashodu, who had seven catches for 150 yards and the winning touchdown in overtime. Aromashodu, a third-year player out of Auburn, is listed third among the wide receivers on the Bears' depth chart. His winning catch came on a play in which he beat Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield, who clearly has not recovered from a foot injury that caused him to miss six games. Did we mention that the Bears didn't even have Devin Hester, who sat out because of an injury?

RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus — The Vikings were without Pro Bowl NT Pat Williams (elbow), but the Bears did not get any big runs. Matt Forte finished with 74 yards on 21 carries, and the Bears had 105 yards on 28 attempts, an average of 3.8 yards per carry. Chicago's strategy in the run game was to head to the perimeter, which actually has worked before against the Vikings. Chicago's biggest runs were a pair of 8-yarders by Forte and Cutler.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus — Such a solid facet of the game for the Vikings for much of this season, this unit is now having its problems. The kickoff coverage was a definite issue Monday, as Danieal Manning averaged 44.7 yards on three returns. He had a 57-yard return to set up a touchdown in the third quarter and then took a return 59 yards to set up a fourth-quarter score. These were the type of issues the Vikings had last season. Meanwhile, Percy Harvin averaged 23.2 yards on six returns as the Bears showed no hesitancy to let him touch the ball. Opponents had started trying to keep the ball out of Harvin's hands, but Chicago didn't subscribe to that strategy. Another issue was Ryan Longwell's first blocked extra point of the season, which came after a third-quarter touchdown and was a huge factor. The Vikings' late touchdown in the fourth quarter would have given them the victory if that extra point had been good.

COACHING: C-minus — The Vikings continue to have teams pick apart their defense and don't seem to be able to make the necessary adjustments to stop it from happening. Granted, there are some issues that probably can't be fixed, but it is surprising that defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and coach Brad Childress don't try to shake up things by blitzing more and trying to get pressure on a guy like Cutler. Of course, the Vikings' issues go well beyond the defense at this point. The special teams are struggling, and the offense is terrible one moment and great the next. All of these issues have come up in recent weeks, and it's up to the coaching staff to fix them or else the Vikings will be sitting home for much of the playoffs.



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