Welp - An interjection used when discussing an unfortunate circumstance without expressing anger. "Welp" is often used when exaggerating or seeking pity, sarcastically, or in attempts to conceal frustration.
Yeah. . .we'll go with the "frustration" thing, in this case.
This was being billed as the biggest game the Minnesota Vikings had played since the 2009 season. The Vikings had a week to rest up and get healthy, and they came into a game against a Chicago Bears team coming off of a brutal loss on the road on a Monday night in San Francisco. If the Vikings want to be taken seriously in the NFC North division race, this is one that they needed to win.
Apparently somebody forgot to tell the Vikings.
Minnesota was brutal in pretty much every phase of the game on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field, and they still haven't won there since 2007. They turned the ball over three times, couldn't get off of the field on third down, and had multiple misfires on special teams as well.
The list of positives in this one is relatively short. Adrian Peterson was very good once again, despite losing a fumble (the one that was lost late in the fourth quarter was credited to Christian Ponder). Peterson carried the ball 18 times for 108 yards, giving him his fifth consecutive game with over 100 rushing yards. That ties a record held by Robert Smith in Vikings' franchise history. Jarius Wright looked fairly decent as one of the few bright spots in the black hole that was the Minnesota passing "attack" again on Sunday afternoon.
Outside of that, it was pretty much a gigantic suck-fest at Soldier Field. Let's start with the offense.
Christian Ponder. . .everyone know that I'm a fan, and that I think he should get the opportunity to play out the season as the Vikings starter and what have you. But man. . .when you have a running back that's averaging nearly 150 yards/game and about six yards every time he touches the football, you should be absolutely murdering opposing defenses with the play-action passing game, particularly when teams are shoving eight and nine guys in the box on every play. And the Vikings. . .well, aren't. They're not making plays down the field, and Ponder seems hesitant a lot of the time.
Then again, when Ponder is getting rid of the ball, it isn't always a guarantee that the guys on the other end are going to catch it. Remember when we thought that Jerome Simpson was going to help open things up for the Vikings' offense? Yeah. . .not so much. Simpson's numbers for today? Five targets, one catch, one yard, three drops. If the plan was to play for Minnesota for a year on the cheap and cash in for the 2013 season, that plan has failed miserably for Mr. Simpson. John Carlson had two drops (which is amazing for a guy that's sighted less frequently than Bigfoot), and Stephen Burton had one that appeared to be an interception for the Bears that got overturned.
To say nothing of the play calling. Seriously, you have Adrian Peterson running like a man possessed, you have third-and-two from inside the opponent's 10-yard line when you're down by 18 points, and you line up in the shotgun on two consecutive plays? What in the hell is that? Hand the money man the football and get a fresh set of downs or into the end zone. I wouldn't even have been disappointed if they had kicked the field goal there. It was better than the plays that were called there.
Two bottom lines from this for the offense. . .first, if you're killing it in the run game the way the Vikings have been lately, you NEED to be better than 51% completion rate and 159 yards on 43 pass attempts. Second, if you're a receiver on the Vikings' roster and your name is not Percy Harvin or Jarius Wright, I hope for your sake that you're renting and not buying in Minnesota. . .because you should, in no way, anticipate being on the Vikings roster next season. The whole unit, save for those two guys, is a mess.
The special teams had a couple of issues as well. Chris Kluwe had a couple of punts that he had go off the side of his foot, and even rookie Blair Walsh had some issues, getting a 30-yard field goal attempt blocked by Julius Peppers. I'm not sure how a 30-yard field goal winds up coming out low enough to get blocked, but Walsh has been outstanding this season, and I'm pretty sure I couldn't hit a field goal from any distance, so I'm not going to get too harsh on the guy.
The defense didn't look anywhere near competent for most of the afternoon, either. The Vikings were credited for a sack on Chicago's first pass play of the afternoon, when Jay Cutler got his feet tangled with one of his offensive linemen and fell down. (Sack credited to Fred Evans, if you're scoring at home.) That's the only sack the Minnesota Vikings were credited with on the afternoon against a Bears team that had offensive line issues coming in, lost at least one more offensive lineman to injury during the game, and had just generally looked like hot garbage for about a month coming into this afternoon's contest.
Want more? The Bears were a disgusting 11-for-19 on third downs today, including an even more disgusting 7-for-10 in the first half of play. The defense allowed the Bears to rack up 23 first downs and were on the field for 37:30 of the game's sixty minutes of action. They did force two turnovers on the afternoon, and all of Minnesota's points came off of those two turnovers (a 40-yard field goal by Walsh after a Matt Forte fumble on Chicago's first offensive play, and Kyle Rudolph's touchdown catch on the drive following Antoine Winfield's third interception of the season). However, it's pretty awful that against the offensive line that they faced on Sunday that Messrs Allen, Robison, and Williams were largely silent (with the exception of a deflected screen pass by Allen and Williams blocking a field goal attempt at the end of the first half).
So, where do the Vikings go from here? Well, thanks to losses by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks this afternoon, the team remains tied for the second wild card spot in the NFC (even though they'd lose that tiebreaker, if memory serves me correctly.) But after a performance like the one our favorite football team put together today, it's hard to be optimistic. . .at least it is for this writer.
This was a game that the Minnesota Vikings had to have in order to set the tone for the remainder of their 2012 regular season. . .and they didn't get it. The schedule doesn't get any easier from here, as the Vikings see this same Bears team again in two weeks, with a match-up with Green Bay looming in seven days. Can the Vikings get back on track? Well, certainly they can. . .but it remains to be seen whether or not they will.