Sunday, September 15, 2013
Vikings-Bears: Dissecting the final TD
By Ben Goessling
CHICAGO -- Jay Cutler's 16-yard touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds left in the Chicago Bears' 31-30 win against the Minnesota Vikings will likely be reviewed and regurgitated all week, especially in Minnesota as the Vikings try to figure out how they could have stopped the Bears and escaped with their first win at Soldier Field since 2007.
We probably won't have all the answers until players and coaches look at the film -- and even then, it remains to be seen how much detail they'll divulge -- but from what several players said after the game, it seemed like the final call was a source of some consternation.
Bears tight end Martellus Bennett, left, scores the winning TD in the final minute against Minnesota.
The Bears head to the line with four receivers -- Earl Bennett and Martellus Bennett to one side, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to the other -- and run four vertical routes, which is a play designed to beat a Cover-2 defense. It's a play that Cutler said they had run several times earlier in the game, most notably on Harrison Smith's interception, but this time, the Bears switched releases on the top of the play, sending Martellus Bennett behind Earl Bennett and to the outside of Chris Cook.
The Vikings begin the play with four of their five defensive backs -- Jamarca Sanford, Harrison Smith, Josh Robinson and Xavier Rhodes -- on Marshall and Jeffery's side, with Sanford showing blitz at the line of scrimmage. He rolls back into coverage, but Cook can be seen asking for help on his side before the play. He initially goes with Earl Bennett up the field, and Cutler makes a perfect back-shoulder throw to Martellus Bennett just before Cook can get there and Smith can slide over to help.
After the game, middle linebacker Erin Henderson said the final defensive call was a surprise, adding the Vikings hadn't practiced it in that situation. "Once again, coaches call plays and players have got to go out there and make plays," he said. "Even if you put us in a bad situation or we made a bad call, it's still on us to go out there and make it right."
Cutler said the Bears had run the play four or five times earlier in the game, adding the Vikings weren't "going to like what they see on film" when they review it. Smith said he might have put Cook in a bad spot, and Cook declined several requests to talk about the play.
"We were in a two-deep shell," defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. "Like I told the guys, I need to kind of see which guys were in the right place and take a look at the film. ... Everybody, I think, is upset when you don't win a game. The guys played hard for 60 minutes, so you can expect that. When you lay it on the line like that, you've got to be upset."
We'll hear more about the play this week, and the Vikings' film review will hopefully lend some more clarity to what happened. Henderson said there were no communication issues with how the call came in, though it's possible the Vikings might have made some bad decisions when adjusting to the Bears' formation. When the Vikings had bottled up the Bears in the second half before the final drive -- and their final defensive call is something of a surprise -- the end result will be tough for them to digest.