In what can most generously be described as one of the uglier NFL football games of the 2007 season, the Minnesota Vikings prevailed over the hapless Chicago Bears on Monday night by a deceptive score of 20-13. In which direction that score is more desceptive, however, depends upon your point of view.
On one hand, the Bears' defense did a respectable job forcing the Vikings to go with plan B--anything involving quarterback Tarvaris Jackson--far more often than Vikings' head coach Brad Childress appeared comfortable with so doing. The result was, by Vikings' standards, a second straight week of sub-standard rushing as the Vikings' running backs tallied a well-below average 109 yards rushing on 25 carries, and three picks for the hurried, harried, and harrassed Jackson.
Jackson's errant passes, sometimes off his back foot, often in a crowd, offered a glimpse of what Vikings' fans might be witness to in the short term should the Vikings, any time soon, be compelled to rely on Jackson to lead a comeback--something Jackson has yet to do in the NFL.
Unlike the past two weeks, when Jackson had ample time to sit in the pocket and no pressure to resurrect a flagging offense, against Chicago the opposite was true. Trailing for much of the game and mostly stymied by the Bears' run defense, the Vikings turned to Jackson to move the offense. In some respects, the gambit worked, as Jackson passed for 249 yards. In other respects, it failed to reveal the progress that Jackson hinted at the past two weeks as two of Jackson's three picks were squarely the result of ill-advised passes.
While the Bears' defense and Jackson conspired to make the Vikings' offense look its plodding worst for most stretches of the game, the Vikings' offense shone as a veritable blueprint for offensive success in the NFL in contrast to the woeful, nearly non-existent entity to which some unabashedly refer as the Bears' offense. Whatever that entity actually is, it surely is one of the uglier sights the modern NFL era has witnessed.
With third-string quarterback Kyle Orton starting for soon-to-be-releasedfirst- and second-string quarterbacks Rex Grossman and Brian Griese, and no running game of which to speak, the Bears' offense truly was something for which only the mothers of those associated with that offense could muster any positive sentiment.
Putrid hardly describes the Bears' offense on Monday. On the night, the Bears had a measly 11 first downs, were 1 of 14 on third-down attempts, averaged 1.9 yards per rushing attempt, and, in a statistic that would make even Childress blush, averaged 8 yards per completed pass against the 32nd-ranked passing defense in the NFL. Orton's unbelievable heave down the field with the game still in the balance and no need to panic merely highlighted the Bears' offensive dysfunction, with Vikings' safety Darren Sharper mercifully putting the woeful show of ineptitude out of its misery with the Vikings' sole pick of the game.
If ever a team should hang its head in victory, this victory comes close for the Vikings. It's nice to win a tight game. It's nice to show some fortitude in the face of unexpected adversity--even if it is the backup quarterback that is showing the lion's share of that fortitude. And it's nice to win a game that was a near must-win. But it really could not have been any less pleasing of a game to watch had it been scripted as such.
Up Next: Stubborn or Realistic? Plus, whither Williamson?