As the Minnesota Vikings fell further and further behind the Chicago Bears on Sunday night, I swore I could have heard a low rumble coming from my laptop. With each missed tackle on a Mitchell Trubisky scramble, it got louder. The din became more noticeable with every self-inflicted wound or questionable play call from the Vikings offense. When Benny Cunningham pounced on Dan Bailey’s last-ditch onside kick attempt, the noise had reached a full roar. By the time I realized what the sound was, it was already too late.
I was buried under an avalanche of takes.
My TweetDeck columns spun like a slot machine as I tried to keep up with the vitriol from fans. It read like a turbo-charged Greatest Hits of Vikings Gripes. The takes scrolled through my screen like song titles from the old Time Life Music infomercials.
“They’re Always Terrible In Primetime Games (Especially On The Road)”
“We Can’t Win In Chicago”
“I Always Knew This Team Was A Fraud”
”The Season Is Over”
”$84 million for THAT?!”
“The O Line Is (Still) Trash”
“Cousins Gets Stats But Can Never Win When It Counts”
“The Game Has Passed Zimmer By”
“Kiss The Playoffs Goodbye”
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Look—I’m not saying that there is no validity to any of those opinions. Much of the disdain about the 2018 Vikings is completely justified. They can’t seem to get out of their own way, and the Super Bowl aspirations the swirled around the team before the season are starting to aspirate. The Vikings now trail the Bears by a game and a half, which means a battle for a Wild Card spot seems much more likely than the bye week they enjoyed a year ago. But declaring the season over while calling for a complete overhaul of the regime is probably a bit preemptive. Instead, let’s just get to our review of the five plays that caused all this gnashing of teeth.
Play 1: Bears ball, 3rd & 7 at the Chicago 24. First quarter, 11:29 remaining. (Shotgun) M.Trubisky scrambles right end to CHI 33 for 9 yards (D.Hunter).
On the Vikings’ first offensive drive, they were stuffed on third and inches, which turned out to be a sign of things to come. On the Bears’ first offensive drive, they were poised for a three-and-out until another sign of things to come happened.
Danielle Hunter had two separate shots to bring Trubisky down before the sticks and couldn’t do it. Eric Kendricks halfheartedly threw a shoulder in, but that didn’t prevent the first down. The defense eventually held Chicago to a field goal, but this play set the tone for how the game would go, especially in the first half.
Play 2: Vikings ball, 1st & 10 at the Chicago 38. First quarter, 4:36 remaining. K.Cousins pass incomplete deep right to S.Diggs.
After the Bears took a 3-0 lead, Minnesota took advantage of good field position from an errant Cody Parkey kickoff and started moving down the field. On their first play in Chicago territory, they had a golden opportunity to take the lead.
They did not.
Stefon Diggs was wide open after turning Kyle Fuller into rotisserie with a truly glorious double move:
And Kirk Cousins just flat out missed him. The Vikings were still able to move the ball 24 more yards after this miss and they looked poised to take the early lead despite the huge missed opportunity. But then, of course, Khalil Mack made his first major impact on the game:
Dalvin Cook coughed it up, and the Vikings shot themselves in the foot to take potential points off the board. After this play, Minnesota ran exactly one play in Chicago territory for the remainder of the first half.
That play didn’t go so well either.
Play 3: Vikings ball, 1st & 10 at the Chicago 32. Second quarter, 0:25 remaining. (Shotgun) K.Cousins pass deep right intended for K.Rudolph INTERCEPTED by A.Amos at CHI 8. A.Amos pushed ob at CHI 34 for 26 yards (C.Beebe).
After the fumble, things really started to fall apart for the Vikings. They wasted Anthony Harris’ first interception of the game by going three-and-out, and then spent the rest of the first half giving up maddeningly preventable plays to the Bears offense. With under a minute remaining in the second quarter, Diggs made an incredible play to shake free for 25 yards and put Minnesota in field goal territory. Salvaging some points before the half could have helped swing the momentum that had been in Chicago’s favor for most of the first 30 minutes.
On what had to be a miscommunication between Cousins and Kyle Rudolph, Adrian Amos caught what might be the easiest interception of his career. Again, the Vikings came away without points due to a self-inflicted wound.
It wasn’t just the Minnesota offense that was guilty of gigantic missed opportunities either.
Play 4: Bears ball, 3rd & 3 at the Minnesota 44. Fourth quarter, 8:52 remaining. (Shotgun) M.Trubisky pass incomplete short right to A.Robinson II (X.Rhodes).
For as lousy as the Vikings offense had looked against the incredible Bears defense all night, it was still a one score game early in the fourth quarter thanks to some crucial stops by the Minnesota defense. Xavier Rhodes could have given his team a chance to tie the game on his own. Trubisky tried to force a third down pass to Allen Robinson that Rhodes probably should have taken to the house the other way.
It was a great play by Rhodes, but it could have been so much greater if he would have been able to catch the pass in stride. This play may have been to closest the Vikings came to stealing a victory all night, because the third Minnesota turnover of the night proved to be the pièce de résistance.
Play 5: Vikings ball, 1st & 10 at the Minnesota 11. Fourth quarter, 8:38 remaining. (Shotgun) K.Cousins pass deep right intended for L.Treadwell INTERCEPTED by E.Jackson at MIN 27. E.Jackson for 27 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
So the defense missed a chance to score, but they had certainly held up their end of the bargain for the entire second half. The Vikings offense had finally scored on their previous two drives and got the ball back deep in their own territory with a chance to drive and tie the game. There was still hope! Unfortunately, that hope tuned out to be very short-lived.
Once again, a deep pass to the right from Cousins went horribly wrong. Instead of finding Diggs open in the flat, Cousins misread the defense and threw to Laquon Treadwell on the corner route into triple coverage. I’m no X’s and O’s genius, but that seemed ill advised!
The Vikings scraped back late to make the final score appear a lot more respectable, but Eddie Jackson’s pick six pretty much sealed the Vikings’ fate for good.
For the fifth time this year, Vikings fans are left scratching their heads playing the “coulda/woulda/shoulda” game and lamenting another lost chance to add to the win column. But don’t throw in the towel just yet. We’re doing this whole “division rival on Sunday Night Football” thing again next week against a Packers team that is asking just as many questions. But this time it’s at home, so maybe it’ll be better?
As always, we welcome you to vote in the poll to tell us which play you thought was the biggest and encourage you to suggest any we may have missed in the comments.
What was the most important play from the Vikings’ loss to the Bears?
This poll is closed
Cousins misses a TD to Diggs
Amos’ interception before the half
Rhodes narrowly missing a pick six
Jackson’s pick six
Other (comment below)