Final Vikings-Texans Pre-Game Thoughts

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 23, 2012 – 11:36 am

I just finished my weekly appearance on the Vikings Radio Network’s pre-game show. Here are a few of things we addressed, plus several other notes as we get closer to kickoff here at Reliant Stadium between the 12-2 Texans and 8-6 Vikings.

– Pound them with Peterson: Yes, Houston has a tough defense. But the Vikings have a tough run offense, and they have the best RB in the NFL in Adrian Peterson. The Vikings should do what they do best, and that’s run the ball. I don’t believe this Houston defense has been tested against the run the way the Vikings can test teams against the run.

– Pick your spots with Ponder: We’ve seen the Vikings lose despite 210 rushing yards by Peterson. So as good as #28 can be, the Vikings need Ponder and Co. to chip in, too. The Vikings got that last week in St. Louis (3 of 3 for 38 yards on opening drive), and they’ll look for it again today. Keep in mind, Houston has permitted 49 completions of 20+ yards this season, an average of 3.5 per game. Can the Vikings get one or two today?

Find (Arian) Foster: Houston QB Matt Schaub takes care of the ball and WR Andre Johnson is electric, but it starts with stopping Foster. He’s a TD machine and he’s a game-breaker. The Vikings have to stop him in order to stop the rest of Houston’s offense.

Need a “miscellaneous” TD: Whether the TD results directly from this kind of play or whether the offense gets an easy TD set up by this kind of play, the Vikings need a sensational special teams or defensive play to flip this game around. Blocked punt, blocked FG, INT, forced fumble, kickoff/punt return, something to switch the momentum on the road. I’m calling a Robert Blanton blocked punt.

Chris Cook returns: The Vikings will benefit from the return of CB Chris Cook. He’ll be matched up against Andre Johnson at times. This is why the Vikings invested in Cook – to guard big receivers.

Block JJ Watt: The Vikings simply can’t allow this guy to ruin the game. He’s going to get his numbers at times, but don’t allow him to take over. It may be easier said than done, but the Vikings have taken away marquee defensive players in the past, such as the way they neutralized San Francisco DE Justin Smith in Week 3. One way to do this might be to switch up the playcalling to go away from tendencies, scheme against him by using motion and formation shifts, and use his strengths to YOUR advantage by calling a few draws, screens and maybe even running right at him, something he might not be used to seeing.

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Watt’s The (Real) Deal? Texans DE Having Historic Season

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 21, 2012 – 7:37 am

No offensive player in the NFL is having a more impressive season than Adrian Peterson. He’s the NFL’s leading rusher by a 433-yard margin over Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, he’s set to challenge Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards over the season’s final two games, and he’s on a string of 8 consecutive 100-yard games and has rushed for the same number of yards (1,313) in that time that Houston’s Arian Foster has the entire season.

The Vikings are going to need the NFL’s best offensive player to be at his best on Sunday, though, because they are heading to Houston to take on the Texans. No defensive player in the NFL is having a more impressive season than Texans DE J.J. Watt. He is tied for the NFL lead with 19.5 sacks, and he’s the first player in NFL history to record 15.0 sacks and 15 passes defensed in the same season.

“His domination. He really dominates,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said when asked what stands out about Watt. “He’s hard to block one-on-one, he has outstanding quickness, he plays hard all the time and, not only is he good against the run, but he’s an excellent pass rusher with the sacks that he’s gotten and the way he bats down balls. He’s just a very, very good player who can take over a game. You don’t often see those guys and he’s one of them.”

Watt’s ability to dominate is best illustrated by pointing out the variety of statistical categories he leads for his team. Aside from sacks, Watt leads the Texans in tackles (100), tackles for loss (33), QB hits (38), passes defensed (15), forced fumbles (3) and fumble recoveries (2). According to information released by the Texans, Watt has been a part of 84 plays this season that have resulted in zero or negative yards. And it’s not just the number of impact plays he can make, it’s the situation(s) in which he makes them. Of those 84 zero or negative-yardage plays, 51  have come on passing plays, 33 on rushing plays, 25 inside FG range and 6 have come in overtime. Also, 42 of them have come on 1st down, which puts the opposing offense at a severe disadvantage on 2nd and 3rd down.

“He’s one of the best players in the NFL, especially at his position,” Vikings QB Christian Ponder said. “They’re going to put him in different spots to create plays, and whether he is inside at the tackle position or outside on the end and standing up or he’s down, he’s creating a lot of plays, obviously. He’s getting pressure but he’s also knocking balls down and he’s a guy that we definitely have to account for.”

On this week’s edition of Vikings Live From Winter Park, C John Sullivan called Watt the best defensive player the Vikings will see this season and stressed the importance for Vikings offensive linemen to stick with their blocks on Watt each play to prevent him from finding a way to impact the game.

As if defending Watt wasn’t enough, the Texans defense is filled with a bunch of other playmakers, especially along the defensive line. Shaun Cody is a run-stuffing nose tackle, Antonio Smith is an 8-year veteran at DE with 21.0 sacks in 62 games as a Texan, and both NT Earl Mitchell and DE Jared Crick provide more than adequate depth and production. Behind the talented front 7, the Texans feature a secondary that plays a lot of man coverage, and does it very well.

“We expect them to play man coverage and the defensive backs are good at it and we’re going to have to win outside,” Ponder said. “Obviously, I think their number one goal is going to be to stop Adrian (Peterson), obviously. So, we’re going to have to take advantage of that in the passing game and we’ll see what they end up doing.”

All-in-all, it’s a big challenge for the Vikings offense, and a challenge they’ll be up for on Sunday with so much on the line.

“I think everyone is focused,” Ponder said. “You can feel it in the locker room. It’s almost like a playoff atmosphere for us and it’s going to be a hostile environment, obviously, it’s a team with a great record, tough place to play. They’re playing for a lot. They’re playing for a bye and home-field advantage so they have a lot on their plate and we know they’re going to be focused and it’s going to be a fun one. It means a lot for this whole team and it means a lot for me. It’s probably the biggest game of my career and we’re excited for it.”

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Early Aggressiveness, Conversions Help Offense Set Tone

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 17, 2012 – 10:07 am

Earlier Monday morning, we discussed a cleverly-crafted defensive game plan featuring an aggressive wrinkle as a key to the Vikings win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. We’d be remiss to not mention the aggressive strategy employed by the Vikings offense early in the game as an important factor in the victory as well.

In last week’s win over the Chicago Bears, it was almost as if the Vikings game-planned for the offense to perform around QB Christian Ponder. In Sunday’s win, though, Ponder was instrumental in the offense’s operation. That was especially the case on the Vikings first drive of the game, a series that required poise from Ponder and featured a few clutch conversions along the way.

It started with a “gotcha” moment on the first play, as the Vikings anticipated St. Louis ganging up to stop Adrian Peterson. Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave called for a play-action pass on 1st down, opening the door for Ponder to rollout and find a wide open Kyle Rudolph in the right flat for a 14-yard gain. That was a nice start. After a 4-yard gain by Peterson on the ground, Ponder rolled right once again and fit a precise pass through a tight window to Jerome Simpson on a crossing route – 11 more yards.

At that point, the Vikings were off to a great start. They forced a St. Louis punt after just 4 plays and were now driving deep into Rams territory. But consecutive rushing plays of -2 yards set the Vikings back to a 3rd and 14 from the St. Louis 20. Out of the gun formation, Ponder zipped a quick slant to Stephen Burton for 13 yards, setting up a 4th and short. Rather than take the conservative approach and send the ever-reliant Blair Walsh onto the field for a quick 3-0 lead, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier elected to be aggressive and go for it on 4th down.

“I knew if we got in that situation early, that was exactly what we wanted to be able to do,” Frazier explained after the game. “We wanted to be aggressive. We talked to our players about it all week long, that we were going to be aggressive in every situation. That was a chance to backup what I had said during the week.”

And it worked. Ponder scrambled for 3 yards to pickup the 1st down, plus a defensive holding penalty gave the Vikings an automatic 1st down anyway. Two more rushes for losses came after the 4th-down conversion, setting the Vikings up with a 3rd and goal from the 5. Ponder dropped back, was in the arms of Rams DE Robert Quinn, escaped, found a crease down the left seam, and dove into the end zone for the TD. He capped the play with an emphatic spike in the end zone, and the Vikings offense was rolling.

On the drive, Ponder was 3 of 3 for 38 yards and added 2 rushes for 8 yards and the TD.

More than just staking the Vikings to an early 7-0 lead, that first offensive series and all it entailed – 5 carries for Peterson, play-action bootlegs, clutch completions and conversions, etc. – helped the Vikings offense gain a rhythm, gain a confidence and set a tone.

“It was big,” Frazier said. “That was a part of what we wanted to be able to design to help us against the eight- and nine-man fronts we knew we were going to get. And sure enough, they came in stacking the box, and we wanted to get Christian on the perimeter and hit some plays on crossing routes. We were effective doing that early. It helped us to open up some of the runs a little bit later.”

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Vikings Go Old-School In 36-22 Win Over Rams

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 16, 2012 – 6:10 pm

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier has an affinity for old-school football after playing on one of the best defenses of all-time (the 1985 Chicago Bears) and with one of the greatest RBs of all-time (Walter Payton). As you can imagine, then, Frazier was quite pleased with his team following their big victory Sunday.

It’s a non-traditional final score, but the Vikings 36-22 win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome was about as old-school as it gets. Another historic day by Adrian Peterson and a cleverly-crafted defensive game plan paced the Vikings winning effort, as they moved to 8-6 on the season and remained alive in the NFC playoff chase.

Peterson, who has been forward about his desire to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, looked like a man on a mission against the Rams. Constantly pushing through and dashing around Rams defenders, Peterson muscled and sprinted his way to 212 rushing yards and 1 TD on 24 carries. He had 2 runs of 50+ yards, including an 82-yard TD in the 1st half, and then his 54-yard outburst late in the game all but sealed the Vikings win.

As good as Peterson was on the day, he didn’t deliver the Vikings a victory on his own. The Vikings defense, which has come on of late, played perhaps its best game against the Rams. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams and his staff put together a game plan that held St. Louis to just 7 points in the 1st quarter and just 5.6 yards per play for the game.

Rather than relying on a 4-man rush from the defensive line and dropping 7 in coverage, the Vikings mixed up their calls and kept the Rams guessing. A quick glance at the stat sheet will illustrate the way the Vikings varied their defensive attack: defensive linemen Letroy Guion and Kevin Williams each had a pass defensed; linebackers Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson each had a sack; and Everson Griffen dropped into coverage and came away with a 29-yard INT return.

When all was said and done, the Vikings had 5 pass breakups, 4 sacks and a fumble recovery. Greenway led the team in tackles (again) and role players such as Christian Ballard (1.0 sack), Griffen and Marcus Sherels all had an impact on defense.

The Vikings running game and defense were key in the victory, but credit also goes to QB Christian Ponder for a well-managed game. Ponder was efficient and careful, connecting on 17 of 24 passes for 131 yards with no TDs or INTs; he also had a 5-yard rushing TD in the 1st quarter. Blair Walsh also played a key role, hitting a NFL record 3 FGs of 50+ yards and going 5 of 5 on the day.

It was a huge win for the Vikings because it keeps them alive in the NFC playoff chase and improves their record in the NFC should that come into tie-breaking procedures. Now the team will sit back, watch the rest of the NFC games unfold late Sunday, and prepare for a game against one of the AFC’s best next week – the Houston Texans.

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Vikings Explode To 30-7 Halftime Lead Over Rams

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 16, 2012 – 1:46 pm

It looked like the Vikings and Rams were in for a close, back-and-forth affair on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. But a 2nd-quarter explosion by Adrian Peterson and the Vikings defense blew the game open and staked the Vikings to a 23-point advantage at halftime.

The Vikings opened the scoring on a 10-play, 45-yard drive that was capped by Christian Ponder’s 5-yard dash for a score. That drive included a 4th-down conversion and a 3rd-down conversion, and Ponder’s score happened after he escaped the grasp of a Rams defensive lineman. St. Louis answered with a TD of their own - a Sam Bradford pass to WR Brian Quick – and the score was 7-7 early in the 2nd quarter.

After being bottled up for the entire 1st quarter, though, Adrian Peterson broke free for an 82-yard TD run on the Vikings first play following the Rams TD. From that point on, it was all Vikings. The Rams fumbled a snap on their next possession, the Vikings recovered, and then Blair Walsh hit a 50-yarder to make the score 17-7. On the ensuing drive, Bradford was intercepted by Vikings LB Everson Griffen on 3rd down. Griffen turned upfield and ran the interception back 29 yards for the score, extending the Vikings lead to 24-7.

From there, the Vikings tacked on 2 more FGs, one as the half expired following a Rams missed FG, and the Vikings lead at intermission was 30-7.

Ponder played efficiently in the half, completing 11 of 16 passes for 85 yards. Peterson finished the 1st half with 119 yards and the TD on 13 carries. In the 1st half, Walsh set a new Vikings rookie single-season scoring record, surpassing the previous mark  of 106 points that was previously held by Randy Moss.

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Emptying Out The Vikings-Bears Notebook

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 11, 2012 – 4:51 pm

On Wednesday morning the NFL calendar is going to flip from Week 14 to Week 15, which means now is the time to empty out the notebook from last weekend’s victory over the Chicago Bears. Here are a few of my final thoughts…

Jared Allen’s Effort
In the NFL, it’s not often that we feel compelled to credit a player for giving maximum effort. But that’s what I’m going to do here. The Bears had a 1st and 10 from their 15, and they handed the ball of to RB Matt Forte. Going wide right, Forte turned the corner and began sprinting down the right (Vikings) sideline. Jared Allen, having lined up on the opposite side of where the play was heading, saw Forte break contain and began sprinting. He took an aggressive angle, and after several moments of all-out sprinting, Allen finally angled Forte off and pushed him out of bounds. Unfortunately, Forte had stepped out of bounds an instant before Allen shoved him, so the officials flagged him for unnecessary roughness and enforced a 15-yard penalty. But you can hardly blame Allen, after sprinting about 60 yards across the field, to not have the wherewithal to stop on a dime and refrain from pushing Forte out of bounds after catching him.

It was a great play by Allen because he could easily have never taken off to try and catch Forte and instead relied on a teammate closer to Forte to take a less aggressive angle and still catch him before he broke away. Instead, Allen took it upon himself to be the one to catch Forte. The end result was nowhere near ideal because the 15-yard penalty tacked on to the 36-yard run set the Bears up with a 1st and 10 from the Vikings 34, but Allen and Co. were able to force a punt just 3 plays later. Plus, the effort Allen gave is a good indication that this team is playing hard and giving everything it has to make a late-season push.

Final Word (For Now) On Ponder
I basically explained this in the Monday Morning Mailbag, but it’s my belief that the hyper-analysis on Ponder and the angst over whether he can be the QB of the future in Minnesota should subside momentarily to the more team-centric and relevant issue of the Vikings push to the playoffs. There’s no question Ponder needs to improve his play – he will be the first to acknowledge that. The sub 100-yard passing outings are hard for fans to stomach given the fact that Ponder was the 12th overall pick and is being groomed to be a franchise quarterback. But if you can refrain from analyzing Ponder through that lens and instead focus on what Ponder and the Vikings need to do to win games this season, you’ll be a happier Vikings fan and you’ll be better able to A) appreciate the season Adrian Peterson is having and B) appreciate the fact that the Vikings are playing meaningful games in December for the first time since 2009.

AP For 2K?
Can he get to 2,000? Adrian Peterson has 1,600 yards rushing through 13 games and needs to average 133.3 yards per game over the final 3 to reach the 2,000-yard mark. Only 6 other RBs in NFL history have done it. I think Adrian will get there, and if he does it will be an impressive accomplishment on a number of levels. Obviously he’s coming back from the knee injury. But also, he’s doing it while the Vikings have struggled to move the ball through the air and while Percy Harvin has been unavailable due to injury. And, if Peterson reaches 2,000, he’ll have done it after facing 3 consecutive Top 15 rushing defenses over the final few weeks of the season.

Jerome Felton Having a Pro Bowl-Caliber Season
A couple of big-name free agent acquisitions haven’t worked out according to plan for the Vikings. But there’s another free agent the team acquired this past offseason who has worked out better than most imagined.

It’s FB Jerome Felton. The guy is playing out of his mind and is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season. He’s worthy of your Pro Bowl vote.

I was glad to see Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier mention Felton in his press conference on Monday.

“Jerome at the fullback position is an unsung hero,” Frazier said. “We’re playing a lot more two-back than we played a season ago and it’s really helped us. We went into this offseason saying that we wanted to be able to find a fullback to really be a lead blocker for Adrian because we felt like some of his best runs have come when he had a lead blocker. Now he might differ from that, but you put the tape on and you see that’s true. Jerome has done a terrific job of doing everything we’ve asked him to do as a lead blocker and he’s had a lot to do with the success we’ve had running the football.”

Sherels, Burton To Step Up If Jefferson Can’t Go
CB A.J. Jefferson suffered a concussion near the end of Sunday’s win over the Bears, leaving the Vikings even more short-handed at the position. Starter Chris Cook is already out, of course, so that means Brandon Burton and Marcus Sherels will have to step up if Jefferson isn’t able to play on Sunday in St. Louis. As for Cook, he can start practicing with the team on a more regular basis and could return as soon as next week against the Houston Texans.

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Peterson (210 Rushing Yards) Dominates, But Vikings Lose 23-14 To Packers

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 3, 2012 – 7:48 am

The Green Bay Packers couldn’t stop Adrian Peterson, but they were able to capitalize on mistakes from other Vikings players enough to claim a 23-14 win over their border rivals at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Peterson put on a performance to remember, rushing for 210 yards and 1 TD on 21 carries. It came in a losing effort, though, as QB Christian Ponder and the Vikings passing offense continued to sputter.

The Vikings were in a 10-0 hole early in the game, but Peterson single-handedly dug them out by constantly running around, past and through an overmatched Packers defense. Peterson had a TD run of 82 yards and another run of 48 yards on the first play of the 3rd quarter, and for the afternoon he averaged 10 yards per carry. His 82-yard score in the 2nd quarter put the Vikings ahead 14-10, an advantage they would carry with them to the locker room at halftime.

Peterson’s 48-yard jaunt to open the 3rd quarter put the Vikings in position to take a commanding 21-10 lead, but a poor decision and throw by Ponder resulted in an INT in the end zone. Green Bay took advantage of the mistake by driving 51 yards in 12 plays to add a FG and pull within one point. Green Bay scored a rushing TD later in the 3rd quarter to take the lead, and they wouldn’t look back. The dagger came when Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers led an 11-minute scoring drive to open the 4th quarter and stake the Packers to the final 23-14 advantage.

The loss drops the Vikings to 6-6, two games behind both Green Bay and Chicago in the NFC North. It also drops them to 9th place overall in the NFC because they lose tie-breakers to both Dallas and Tampa Bay. The Vikings will have to recover quickly, though, because they have a chance to get right back in the thick of the playoff picture by defeating the Bears at home on Sunday.

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Peterson’s Beastly, 82-Yard TD Run Aides Vikings To 14-10 Halftime Lead

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 2, 2012 – 1:32 pm

Adrian Peterson has done it again. And it’s only halftime.

The best RB in the NFL took a handoff and ran off right tackle. It looked as if he’d be ushered out of bounds for a non-descript 8-yard gain. But Peterson didn’t stop running, and he wound up ripping off a career-best 82-yard TD run to give his team a 14-10 lead. Through 2 quarters, Peterson has 126 yards and the TD on 13 carries. It’s the 5th consecutive 100-yard outing for Peterson and the 7th of the season.

Green Bay got off to a fast start, taking an early 10-0 lead. But Christian Ponder found Kyle Rudolph for a TD late in the 1st quarter and then Peterson stunned the stadium with his incredible 82-yard jaunt to give the Vikings their 4-point lead at intermission.

Ponder is 5 of 8 for 36 yards with 1 TD on the day; he also has 4 carries for 14 yards. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has been sharp, connecting on 18 of 23 passes already for 170 yards with 1 TD.

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A Closer Look: 5 Decisive Moments In Vikings-Bears Game

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 26, 2012 – 3:39 pm

Following his team’s 28-10 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier was asked during his post-game press conference what the turning point in the game was in his mind. Frazier didn’t identify one moment where the game turned around, and instead spoke broadly about how the game unfolded.

After a day reflecting on the game, I agree with Frazier that it’s hard to define a moment that changed the course of the game. So rather than hyper-analyze a moment or two that contributed to Sunday’s outcome, let’s take a look at five moments in the game that shaped what turned out to be the Vikings 5th loss of the season.

Matt Forte fumbles, Chad Greenway recovers (13:12, 1st quarter)
The very first moments of the game were not great for the Vikings. QB Christian Ponder was sacked on the first play of the game and the Vikings went 3-and-out. But it looked as if early momentum would swing back to the Vikings when Bears RB Matt Forte fumbled on Chicago’s first offensive snap. Chad Greenway recovered the fumble, and the Vikings offense set up shop on the Bears 28.

Chicago dodged a bullet, though, and forced the Vikings to bring Blair Walsh on the field for a 40-yard FG after just three plays. The rookie kicker converted and the Vikings led 3-0, but it was a “win” for the Bears because they didn’t allow a TD after the Vikings started with such great field position.

Adrian Peterson fumbles, Charles Tillman recovers (10:13, 1st quarter)
Just moments after the Forte fumble, the Vikings returned the favor. And the Bears were able to do what the Vikings could not – they turned it into a TD. Peterson took a handoff on the Vikings first play following a Bears 3-and-out after the Walsh FG, and he was tackled by Bears LB Nick Roach. Peterson fumbled the ball, and Bears CB Charles Tillman fell on it, giving the Bears offense good field position at the Minnesota 34.

Six plays later, RB Michael Bush plunged into the end zone for a 1-yard TD, and the Robbie Gould PAT gave the Bears a 7-3 lead.

Defensive pass interference called against Antoine Winfield in end zone (4:17, 2nd quarter)
Leading 10-3 late in the 2nd quarter, the Bears were driving and had a 1st-and-10 from the Minnesota 25. Jay Cutler dropped back to pass and had no one open, so he escaped the pocket to buy more time. After surveying the field and still seeing no one open, he rifled a pass toward WR Brandon Marshall, who was covered by CB Antoine Winfield. As if he were playing basketball, Marshall posted up on the shorter Winfield and made a play for the ball. The nearest official threw a flag for what appeared to be offensive pass interference. But the call went against Winfield, and the Bears were set up with a 1st-and-goal from the 1.

On the Bears next play, Bush once again plunged in for a 1-yard score, and then Chicago ran a fake Pat to score a 2-point conversion and take an 18-3 lead.

Jay Cutler 13-yard TD pass to TE Matt Spaeth – reviewed and upheld (1:55, 2nd quarter)
Vikings QB Christian Ponder was intercepted by Bears S Chris Conte, and it didn’t take Chicago long to turn the Vikings second turnover of the game into another TD.

On the Bears first play from scrimmage after the INT, Cutler found TE and former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher Matt Spaeth in the corner of the end zone for a 13-yard TD. After catching the ball, Spaeth fell to the ground and was out of bounds. The call on the field was a TD, but the play was reviewed. After review, the officials upheld the original ruling, and after another Gould Pat the Bears led 25-3.

Matt Forte fumbles, Mistral Raymond recovers and returns 52 yards for a TD – play is overturned (6:39, 3rd quarter)
The Vikings had just scored a TD on a Ponder-to-Kyle Rudolph 2-yard connection, making the score 25-10. On their ensuing possession, the Bears were driving and were at midfield. Forte took a handoff and was stopped by a group of Vikings, and then fumbled on his way to the ground after being bent back awkwardly. Vikings S Mistral Raymond wisely scooped up the ball and sprinted 52 yards to the end zone, where the officials ruled the play a TD. After review, though, the play was overturned and the Bears retained possession.

Four plays later, Gould salvaged the drive with a 46-yard FG, increasing the Bears lead to 28-10. The series of plays represented a 10-point swing in which the Vikings could trailed by just 8 points early in the 2nd half but instead wound up trailing by 18 points.

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Miscues Doom Vikings In 28-10 Loss To Chicago

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 26, 2012 – 7:42 am

Soldier Field is a tough place to play for opposing teams, and poor execution combined with plenty of miscues does not help the visitor’s cause in trying to take down the Chicago Bears in their own house. The Vikings, who turned the ball over three times and executed poorly in crucial situations, are the latest to illustrate that point in a 28-10 loss Sunday in the Windy City.

After opening the game with a 3-and-out, the Vikings fortunes took an early turn-for-the-better when RB Matt Forte lost a fumble on Chicago’s first offensive snap of the game. The Vikings were not able to cash in with a TD, but Blair Walsh salvaged the scoring chance with a 40-yard FG. From that point on, though, it would be all Chicago Bears.

Adrian Peterson lost a fumble on the Vikings next series and Christian Ponder was intercepted later in the 2nd quarter. Making the bad news even worse for the Vikings was the fact that Chicago turned both turnovers into TDs and enjoyed a 25-3 lead at halftime.

The Vikings had a brief moment of optimism early in the 3rd quarter thanks to sloppy play from the Bears. CB Antoine Winfield intercepted Bears QB Jay Cutler, and the Vikings scored a TD five plays later when Ponder found TE Kyle Rudolph for a 2-yard score. On the seventh play of the ensuing Bears series, Vikings S Mistral Raymond picked up an apparent Forte fumble and returned it 52 yards for a TD. At that moment, the Vikings were on the comeback trail. But after review, the officials took the Vikings TD away, and Chicago responded four plays later with a FG to extend their lead to 28-10.

That would wind up being the Bears winning margin, as the teams exchanged a series of punts and the Vikings lost another fumble over the remaining quarter-and-a-half. Peterson wound up rushing for 108 yards – his 5th consecutive 100-yard game – on 18 attempts and rookie WR Jarius Wright led the team in receptions with 7 grabs for 49 yards. Those were the only bright spots in a day where the Vikings couldn’t overcome miscues.

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