I had a feeling Sunday wouldn't be the Vikings day fairly early in the first quarter. When Matt Forte fumbled on Chicago's first play from scrimmage, all the Vikings could muster was a Blair Walsh field goal. When Adrian Peterson fumble a possession later, the Bears converted that into a touchdown. That was pretty much the ballgame right there.
I'm not sure how to feel about this game, truth be told. For one, I didn't expect the Vikings to win once it was announced Jay Cutler was going to play. But I did, however, expect the Vikings to play better, especially coming out of the bye. And even with Cutler in, as bad as the Bears offensive line was, I felt this was still a winnable game, Cutler or no Cutler.
Once again, in what was the biggest game of the team's season, against one of their two biggest rivals, the Minnesota Vikings came out flat and uninspired, and ended up getting their ass thoroughly kicked. Once was an aberration, twice was a pattern, but for this team under Leslie Frazier, and actually going back to Brad Childress in 2010, this is at least the fifth...FIFTH...time that the Vikings have laid an egg like this. Consider:
In 2010, the Vikings were 3-5, with games against the Bears and Green Bay. Two wins, and they're 5-5 and right back in the middle of it. The result? A 27-13 loss to Chicago, and a 31-3 drubbing at the hands of Green Bay. 3-7, season over. Last season, again in Chicago, the Donovan McNabb era ended in grisly fashion on national TV, 39-10. Three weeks later, they got embarrassed 45-7 by Green Bay in Lambeau.
I don't like it when Minnesota loses to their main rivals, but I understand that you can't win them all. But what I don't understand, nor will I accept, is the Vikings getting so thoroughly whipped time and time again.
It seems as if, in these big games, the Vikings don't care anymore. Am I right, Phil?
Well you can tell ev'ryone I'm a down disgrace
Drag my name all over the place.
I don't care anymore.
You can tell ev'rybody 'bout the state I'm in
You won't catch me crying 'cos I just can't win.
I don't care anymore I don't care anymore
I don't care what you say
I don't play the same games you play.
Your SMR of apathy follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Nobody. This team got their ass thoroughly kicked by a division rival with first place on the line. There are no blue chippers today.
Adrian Peterson, RB: Peterson was one of maybe two or three guys that looked like they gave two hoots in hell during the game, and he had yet another 100 yard rushing game. If the Vikings had 52 other guys with his heart and competitive fire, this team would never lose a game. Unfortunately, they don't.
The List Is Almost Endless: On offense, we'll start with Christian Ponder. He had a bad day, but he had no help from his offensive line or his receivers. Let's open the Book Of Football, kids. I'll wait for you to pull up your PDF or pull your copy off the book shelf. Waiting...waiting...good God, are you on dial up?...okay, we're back. Now, let's turn to Chapter 2, passing. On page 2-1, we see a math equation. It says throwing ball + catching ball = completed pass. HALF OF THAT EQUATION WAS MISSING TODAY. The quarterback's job is to throw a catchable ball. Ponder, for all the pressure he was under today, did that for the most part. However, with maybe the exception of Kyle Rudolph, no one else did the job they're paid to do, which is to catch the ball.
Hey, remember when the Vikings signed Jerome Simpson on the hopes he was going to catch a lot of passes, pile up a bunch of yards, and score some TD's? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, wasn't that funny? Today Simpson had two more drops (3), than he did receiving yards (1). When the name Bernard Berrian makes me think that adding him would be a positional upgrade, the Vikings receiving corps has officially entered 'Dumpster Fire' territory. As Fearless Leader said in his recap, if your name isn't Jarius Wright or Percy Harvin, we hope you're only renting. Because you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.
Let's talk coaching, shall we? The Vikings had two, count 'em two weeks to get ready for this game, and this team came out flatter than three day old pop. With first place on the line, no less. Completely unacceptable. But hey, let's move on from preparation to execution. When you're down 28-10, in the fourth quarter, and you have a chance to put points on the board, we have a couple options in front of us. When you get down inside the 20, and it's fourth down, why not kick the field goal there? The defense had been playing well in the second half, and a field goal gets them within two scores and a two point conversion.
But I can buy the aggression, so let's talk play calling. Adrian Peterson had been running like a man possessed and got the Vikings to second and 2 at the Chicago 8, was begging for the ball, and it was early enough in the fourth quarter that a comeback, while still a longshot, wasn't an impossibility. So natch, Bill Musgrave outsmarts himself AGAIN...LIKE HE DOES EVERY WEEK...and calls two straight passes that went incomplete. Whatever slim chance the Vikings had was gone.
Buy: Almost Nothing. From the gameplan, to the execution, to the motivation, to everything, this game sucked. If next two games against Green Bay and Chicago again, I will thoroughly be in the 'blow it all up' camp, holding the match and the fuse. I am going to now go pour bleach into my eyes.
Sell: Damn Near Everything: See 'buy'.
Don Glover Quote Of The Week:
"Well son, that's three hours I'm never going to get back. And at 82, every hour counts. God damn Vikings."
Indeed, Dad. Indeed.
So, I just re-read this, and maybe I'm over-reacting a little bit. But I think my points still stand, and are valid. Mainly, the way the Vikings play at the most critical times against their biggest opponents have been almost criminal. I understand that it's difficult to get up and get motivated every week, but to repeatedly come out so flat in so many big situations, against the biggest rivals this team has in the NFL is baffling. Especially coming out of the bye. Say what you want about Denny Green, but he started 11-1 against the Bears and Packers, and finished 25-16 against them. Mike Tice managed to go 9-8 with generally a lot less talent, and beat the Packers in the playoffs at Lambeau.
Winning your division in the NFL requires beating the opponents in your division, something the Vikings used to do with a better than average regularity. It is something that the Vikings no longer do, and haven't done since Mike Tice left, with the notable exception of 2009.
Until they can, the playoffs are not a realistic possibility for this football team. It's that simple.