Tuesday, November 16, 2010
NFC North Week 10 decisive moment
By Kevin Seifert
We're going to take a bit of a different tack this week. The NFC North's most decisive moment in Week 10 was actually a four-play sequence Sunday, during which the Chicago Bears' defense held the Minnesota Vikings without a score on four plays inside their 15-yard line.
Holding a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter, the Vikings had a first down at the Bears' 11. Here's what transpired:
First down: Bears linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa slid off Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie to stop tailback Toby Gerhart for a 1-yard gain.
Second down: Bears defensive end Israel Idonije, having swapped sides with teammate Julius Peppers, blew up a trap play out of the shotgun formation. Lined up at right end, Idonije quickly got into the backfield as quarterback Brett Favre handed the ball to Gerhart. Jeff Dugan, lined up as an H-Back on the opposite side, had no chance to get down the line in time to kick out Idonije. The play lost 1 yard.
Third down: The Bears ran a smart zone blitz that beat the left side of the Vikings' offensive line. Peppers, this time lined up as a right end, dropped into coverage in the flat against tailback Adrian Peterson. Linebacker Brian Urlacher and nickelback D.J. Moore both blitzed through the area Peppers vacated, but McKinnie was caught off guard because he had looked first for Peppers. He blocked no one. Left guard Steve Hutchinson blocked down on defensive tackle Matt Toeaina. Seeing Urlacher and Moore approaching, Favre threw the ball away. He was called for intentional grounding.
Fourth down: Place-kicker Ryan Longwell hit the left upright on a 39-yard field goal attempt.
The Bears drove for a touchdown on their ensuing possession, and the exchange marked an important momentum shift. Instead of taking a 10-0 lead, which might have caused the Bears to abandon the offensive balance they eventually achieved, the Vikings found themselves trailing 7-3. And although they did retake the lead briefly on a 53-yard touchdown pass to receiver Percy Harvin, it came on a one-play series against a busted coverage.
In my mind, the Bears controlled the game from the moment Longwell's kick clanged off the upright.