Post Game Review
The Minnesota Vikings offensive struggles continued on Monday night. Despite the return of starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, the Vikings barely escaped Soldier Field with a 20-17 victory over the home team Chicago Bears, moving to 3-2 on the season.
Bradford struggled mightily and looked uncomfortable throughout his time. He only played the first half before being replaced by Case Keenum again. The offense was much more efficient in the second half behind Keenum and running back, Jerrick McKinnon. McKinnon ran for 95 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, with 58 of those yards coming on his touchdown run.
The Vikings defense was effective through most of the game and did enough to limit Chicago’s offense. They spoiled the debut of Bears’ rookie quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, as safety, Harrison Smith, intercepted him deep in Bears’ territory with 2:32 remaining in regulation, which helped to set up Kai Forbath’s game-winning field goal. Everson Griffen also recorded a strip sack earlier in the first half that led to the Vikings first points of the game. They Vikings limited running back, Jordan Howard, to 76 yards on 19 carries.
Case Keenum entered the game for the final drive of the first half and gave the Vikings offense new life going forward. The Vikings opened the second half with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with a 13-yard connection to tight end, Kyle Rudolph, for the Vikings first touchdown of the night. Keenum would continue his efficient play for the remainder of the night to help the Vikings pull out a rare win at Soldier Field, only their second in the last 10 visits.
Sam Bradford was definitely not the same player we saw on opening night versus the New Orleans Saints. He looked hesitant and uncomfortable during his time on the field. He held the ball for far too long on at least three of the four sacks he took. The Vikings were smart enough to pull him while the game was still well within reach, but it still begs the question: why was Bradford put into that position in the first place? Didn’t they see something in his mobility in pregame warmups that would’ve showed the coaching staff that he wasn’t ready?
Play of the Game
Harrison Smith’s interception of Mitchell Trubisky couldn’t have come at a better place or time. The Vikings offense had just punted the ball away after failing to move close enough to break a 17-17 tie late in the game. The rookie quarterback had left the pocket to escape pressure coming from his blind side. As he tried to zip a pass to tight end, Zach Miller, Smith undercut the throw and was able to pick off the low pass and return it to the Bears’ 28-yard line. The Vikings offense would simply eat up 20 yards and most of the remaining clock to make the game-winning field goal easier.
The Vikings will play their third straight divisional game as they host the arch-rival, Green Bay Packers on Sunday in an early afternoon game. These teams have split the season series the past two years running, with the Packers holding court in these two teams latest encounter, 38-25, at Lambeau Field on December 24th last season. The Vikings may find themselves in a very difficult matchup against a Packers team that will be bringing an improved defense to this latest showdown if neither Bradford or Keenum play at a higher level.
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