Don’t let the final score fool you, the Minnesota Vikings had a rough night in Chicago with the NFC North Division lead at stake.
The Vikings got off to a slow start, turned the ball over in crucial times and couldn’t contain Khalil Mack. They also had difficulties containing both Mitchell Trubisky and Jordan Howard in the run game. You read that correctly, they couldn’t contain Trubisky in the run game.
The bigger problem for the Vikings? Yet another chance to make a statement on the national stage, and they fell completely flat. Sunday Night Football at Soldier Field and a chance to take the division lead, and they were thoroughly outplayed. It brought back many nightmares of other flat performances at Soldier Field, not to mention the 38-7 disaster in last year’s NFC title game at Philadelphia.
But the Vikings don’t get much time to feel sorry for themselves. They face the Packers in another Sunday Night Football match-up, with a chance to essentially put their rival’s season to bed. Here are four takeaways from Sunday night’s loss.
Khalil Mack Dominates
We knew the Bears defense would be tough at Soldier Field even before they got Khalil Mack. Then, they traded for one of the most dominant defensive players in the game. His stat line wasn’t all that sexy. He finished with two tackles, one sack and a big forced fumble on Dalvin Cook that killed a potential scoring drive.
But the Vikings had to account for Mack on every offensive play. It allowed other players to have big games, especially Akiem Hicks, who finished with six tackles, a sack and made the Vikings run game non-existent. Mack has been dominating all season. Now Vikings fans got to see it first hand, and the Bears have the inside track at the division title.
Vikings Run Game Goes Nowhere
The Vikings entered Sunday night’s game as one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL, 29th in the league and averaging just more than 91 yards per game. It’s only going to get worse after Sunday night. It’s not all that surprising, as the Bears have the top rushing defense in the NFL. They allow less than 78 yards per game and have given up just two rushing touchdowns.
The Vikings managed just 19 total rushing yards. Dalvin Cook and his healthy hamstring had nine carres for a mere 12 yards. To some extent, the flow of the game and playing from behind forced the Vikings to get away from running the ball, especially in the second half. But they never could get the run game established as Chicago’s front seven dominated the Vikings’ offensive line.
Kirk Cousins, Offensive Line Struggles
Turnovers were a huge factor in the loss for the Vikings. They committed three of them with Kirk Cousins throwing two interceptions. One of those went for a touchdown that essentially sealed Minnesota’s fate before they made a late rally to make the score look closer than the game was. The first turnover was a killer, with the Vikings driving for a potential score and Dalvin Cook fumbling.
Then down 14-6, Cousins threw into triple coverage in the third quarter for an easy interception for Eddie Johnson. He returned it for a touchdown, and a two-point conversion stole any momentum the Vikings could take from the Bears. The Vikings made mistakes that simply can’t be made in a game of this magnitude.
One Bright Spot? Vikings Defense
Sure, the Vikings defense struggled to contain Mitchell Trubisky and Jordan Howard in the run game. But they created turnovers themselves, and played well enough to get a victory. Trubisky only threw for 165 yards and a touchdown, and was intercepted by Anthony Harris twice. The Vikings also recovered a fumble that got them back in the game that should’ve otherwise been over.
As poorly as the Vikings played overall, it still required Chicago recovering an onside kick to seal the victory. They get a chance to bounce back this Sunday against the Packers, and take one more step to eliminating one of their rivals.