By Joe Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings took care of the Chicago Bears rather easily 38-10 Sunday at US Bank Stadium.READ MORE: How Minnesota Schools Are Spending COVID Relief Money
The Vikings scored early on a pair of touchdown passes by Sam Bradford. He tossed one to Jerick McKinnon and the other to Kyle Rudolph. Additionally, excellent play by Kai Forbath and a pair of turnovers from the defense helped the team build a three-score lead. Jarius Wright caught a short touchdown pass and the Vikings led 24-10 at halftime. In the second half, the Vikings got a touchdown run by McKinnon and fumble return for a score by Everson Griffen to put the game away.
The Vikings moved the ball with more effectiveness and efficiency than any game this season. They finished with 374 yards (six per play) and converted half of their third down plays.
The final numbers are nice and easy to look at, but the best indicator of how well the offense played is to look at the numbers while the game was still just a two-score game. The Vikings went ahead by 21 points with 12:11 left in the fourth quarter.
Every drive prior to McKinnon’s touchdown run came in the first three quarters. The Vikings had seven drives in that time and were in scoring position on five of them. They scored three touchdowns, kicked one field goal and turned the ball over once in those five drives.
Opportunistic is the best word to describe the Vikings’ defense. They appeared disinterested in getting involved in a lot of tackles and gave up a bunch of yards for about half the game, but had two interceptions inside their own 20-yard line. In total they forced four turnovers on defense (two interceptions and two fumble recoveries).
In the first half, the Bears had no problem running through the Vikings defense. They had five possessions and had at least 30 yards on three of them. The Bears’ first possession was an eight-play, 59-yard drive that ended with an interception by Xavier Rhodes on the goal line. After two short drives, the Bears went 85 yards to the end zone and 31 yards into field goal range to end the half.READ MORE: Girl Gifts Comforting 'Prairie Bears' To All Patients At Youth Psychiatric Hospital
The Bears’ second half started similar to the first. They had a lengthy drive that got them into the red zone, but Trae Waynes undercut a route on third down for an interception. After that, the Bears had 56 yards on four drives that culminated in a turnover on downs, turnover on fumble and two punts.
Special Teams: A
The only blemish on the Vikings’ special teams was a long kickoff return by Deonte Thompson late in the first half that set up the Bears for a field goal as time expired. Former University of Minnesota wide receiver Isaac Fruechte made a touchdown saving tackle near midfield in his NFL debut on the return.
The big plays in their favor were a 35-yard kickoff return by Cordarrelle Patterson, muffed punt fumble recovery by Jayron Kearse and a 36-yard punt return by Marcus Sherels. Also, Forbath was perfect on field goals (1-for-1) and extra points (5-for-5) and the kickoff coverage unit stopped Thompson before the 20-yard line on back-to-back kicks in the fourth quarter.
Interim offensive coordinator Pat Schurmer called a good game for the Vikings. He still called a lot of the short passes that has given the offense success, but also incorporated some deep shots and timely run plays that kept the Bears’ defense off balance most of the game.
Head coach Mike Zimmer had the team playing hard for the most part. There were moments when players avoided excessive contact to keep from getting hurt, but it was clear the team wanted to put on a show for the fans and finish the season with a win.
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The Vikings missed the playoffs, which means the team will now begin preparing for the 2017 NFL season.