Sunday, November 14, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Bears 27, Vikings 13
By Kevin Seifert
CHICAGO -- Some thoughts on Sunday's affair at Soldier Field:
What it means: The Chicago Bears pulled into first place in the NFC North. Like the Green Bay Packers, they are 6-3. It's irrelevant at this point, but if the season had ended Sunday, the Bears would have won the division based on their Week 3 victory over the Packers. The Vikings, meanwhile, fell a full three games behind the division leaders at 3-6. Their hopes of getting back into the division race seem dim. Now, the drumbeat will really begin: Will Vikings owner Zygi Wilf fire coach Brad Childress? The window for making that move might be shut, at least if it's done with an eye toward impacting the 2010 season.
Turnovers, turnovers: The Vikings entered this game as one of the NFL's sloppiest teams. The Bears were one of its most opportunistic. So it's probably no surprise that the Vikings committed four turnovers, including three more interceptions from quarterback Brett Favre. Frankly, the Vikings were fortunate to be in the game as long as they were based on their turnovers.
Where does the credit go? For the first time all season, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler wasn't sacked in a game. Do we credit the Bears' much-maligned offensive line or slap at the Vikings' suddenly punchless pass rush? The bottom line is we saw what Cutler can do when given time and when he gets out of the pocket on occasion. He threw one terrible interception in the end zone during the third quarter, but otherwise rifled the ball all over the field. He finished with three touchdown passes to three different receivers.
Devin Hester! Yes, he deserves an exclamation point beside his name after his most productive game of the season, which coincided with his 2010 debut as a kickoff returner. Hester dove across the goal line at the end of a 19-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, returned a punt 42 yards later in the quarter and then ripped off a 68-yard kickoff return in the third quarter. The latter return set up Robbie Gould's 37-yard field goal. To me, that's an ideal use of Hester -- maximize his special-teams touches and find appropriate opportunities on offense.
Weather troubles: Wind was definitely a factor Sunday and most likely contributed to a pair of rare misses in the first half. The Vikings' Ryan Longwell hit the left upright on a 39-yard attempt in the second quarter, his first miss of the season. Gould missed from 43 just before halftime.
What's next: The Bears have a short week and will play at the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night. The Vikings will host the Packers.