This had to be the biggest game of the season for the Bears. They came up huge. They shut down RB Adrian Peterson, QB Brett Favre and for the most part kept WR Percy Harvin in check.
Beating the defending NFC North champions was a big step in the right direction for the Bears. They went from being a shaky 5-3 team to a pretty dangerous 6-3 team. If all three phases click on a regular basis like they did on Sunday this team should keep having success.
The Bears were clicking on offense, defense and special teams yesterday. Jay Cutler completed 22 of 35 passes for 237 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
One interception came on a rocket pass to Johnny Knox that was deflected into the hands of Viking defender. The other interception was in the red zone and was all Cutler’s fault, all he had to do was scramble or throw the ball away.
The most important statistic the Bears improved on was their third down offense, they were able to convert 11 of 19 third downs on the day.
The running backs had some success against the Vikings defense, Chester Taylor and Matt Forte combined for 102 yards on 33 carries. Getting the running backs going in the cold weather is very important down the stretch.
The offensive line played its best game all season and really looked like they meshed well together. They committed some dumb false start penalties, but those will go away with experience. They allowed Cutler to scramble when he needed and for him to throw on the run when he needed. Most importantly they only allowed one sack by the Vikings defense.
The receivers played very well. Johnny Knox caught five passes for 90 yards. Devin Hester who struggled early slipping on routes added a huge touchdown late in the second quarter which put the Bears up 14-10 at halftime. Earl Bennett, Rashied Davis and Devin Aromashodu all added grabs as well.
Davis had the lone score in the fourth quarter. The Davis touchdown came on a third-and-one, where the Bears came out in the Tank package. If you didn’t know the Tank package is where they call a three tight end package. On that play call Davis released off the line and the play-fake sucked up the defense. He had no one near him as he went in for the score.
“There was nobody near me. I was just like, ‘Man, hurry up and throw it before somebody comes.’ It was taking a long time to get there.”
The defense played very well once again. They shut down Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre. They kept Percy Harvin in check. The defense got enough pressure on Favre to rattle him. They didn’t record a sack, but they made big plays. DE/DT Henry Melton forced a key fumble on a Brett Favre scramble in the second half, which was recovered by Tommie Harris.
LB Lance Briggs picked off Favre in the second half, so did nickel back D.J. Moore and safety Chris Harris. Moore now has four interceptions, which is a team high. He seems to have a knack for interceptions, he got the interception mainly because Israel Idonije tipped the ball on the line.
The Bears defense has held opponents under 17 points in six of the nine games they have played this season. They only allowed the Vikings to score one touchdown and it came on a mistake by safety Chris Harris, who bit on the play and allowed Percy Harvin to reel in an easy touchdown pass. Danieal Manning committed a dumb pass interference penalty in the second half, but besides that the defense played smart and sound football.
Adrian Peterson only ran for 51 yards on 17 carries and Brett Favre only passed for 170 yards on 31 attempts. The Bears should get the credit they deserve for shutting down the Vikings weapons.
Special teams played a huge role in this victory for the Bears. Devin Hester returned his first kickoff since last January. He added 100 yards on two kick returns and 47 yards on two punt returns. Rashied Davis also added a 32 yard kick return, but Hester was the story of the game. The Devin Hester of old was flying all over the field looking more dangerous than ever. He was consistently setting the Bears offense up with great field position.
What the Bears envisioned him doing when they first converted him to wide receiver seems to be working right now. He is a weapon on offense and a weapon on special teams and that could be a recipe for disaster for opponents.
The coaches called up a great game plan. It was a great mix of passes and runs and when they needed a boost on third down the right play seemed to be called consistently. The offense was clicking and the plays being called were just right. I would like to see more game plans like this.
They’ve basically eliminated the defending NFC North champion Vikings from the playoffs. Now Chicago and Green Bay will battle it out for the division crown, both teams sit at 6-3, but they rest of their schedules are very challenging.
The Bears have a short week to prepare for the Miami Dolphins. The Thursday night game in Miami should be tough on both teams. The Dolphins lost both of their quarterbacks named Chad (Pennington and Henne) for the season and now have to go with four year pro Tyler Thigpen. Look for the Dolphins to use the wildcat more on Thursday night.