Notebook: Allen's ‘blitzkrieg' happens again

Jared Allen (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)

The Vikings had breakdowns in several statistical categories, living up to Jared Allen's assessment of how games in Chicago usually go for the Vikings. Plus, receivers dropped numerous passes with Jerome Simpson leading the way, and the playoffs are still very much a possibility after Sunday afternoon's results.

Last Monday, Jared Allen recalled recent games at Soldier Field and came up with an interesting description, calling it a "blitzkrieg of crap" that happens at Soldier Field.

That's about what happened Sunday, as the Vikings created their own problems from early in the first quarter until the score was essentially out of control in the second half of a 28-10 pounding. Allen's words six days before the game turned prophetic.

"We can't allow what has happened in years past to happen again. We get up in there, first half seems to be a blitzkrieg of crap not going our way," Allen said. "And we scratch our way back into it in the second half and we give up another big play to put it out of reach. So, we have to be consistent."

The Vikings (6-5) were anything but consistently good, and the problems were all over the field. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier listed the issues at the outset of his post-game press conference.

"Very disappointing game. We didn't execute like we needed to on the road in order to win against a good football team," Frazier said. "We struggled in a number of areas. We wanted to be better on third down on offense and defense. We wanted to be better in the red zone on third down on offense and defense. We did not get that done. They made a couple plays on special teams as well. It's not the kind of performance you need when you're on the road in the division."

  • Frazier was well aware of one of the key concerns, as the Vikings didn't perform well on third down on either side of the ball. They were only 6-for-16 on offense on third downs and didn't pick up a first down until early in the second quarter. On defense, they allowed 11-of-19 third-down conversions, despite holding the Bears to only a 2.9-yard average on 39 rushes.

  • Frazier also was correct in calling out the team's red zone efficiency. The Vikings scored touchdowns on only one of their three trips inside the red zone, while the Bears were 3-for-4.

    One of those failures came in the fourth quarter when the Vikings were facing third-and-2. Knowing they were in four-down territory because of the score and time – down 28-10 early in the fourth quarter – the Vikings tried a pass to Jarius Wright in the end zone that he dropped and Michael Jenkins that Ponder overthrew while under pressure.

    "We thought we had some plays that would get us what we wanted and we fell short," Frazier said. "You can second-guess and say we should have did that and should have did that. We thought we had some good plays called."

    The Vikings' other red zone failure came on a 30-yard field goal attempt that was blocked.

  • One of the issues on defense was a lack of pressure on QB Jay Cutler, whose only sack came when he was tripped by center Roberto Garza and fell. The Vikings had only five QB hits, despite Chicago entering the game by benching two starting offensive linemen.

    "Some of that had to do with the type of passes they were throwing. There was a lot of boots and underneath stuff, not a lot of shots down the field," Frazier said. "Credit their quarterback and their offensive line."

  • The Bears also won the turnover game, 3-2, recovering both of the Vikings' fumbles involving Adrian Peterson and intercepting one Ponder pass. The Vikings picked off Cutler once and recovered a Matt Forte fumble.

    "It's very difficult to win on the road against a team that thrives off of turnovers and you turn it over at inopportune times, like we did today," Frazier said. "It's hard to overcome sometimes."

  • The Vikings suffered potential concussions to safety Harrison Smith and tight end Kyle Rudolph, but they couldn't play the sympathy card in this game because the Bears had five players leave the game with injuries –starting guards Lance Louis and Chris Spencer (knee injuries), returner Devin Hester (concussion), and running back Matt Forte (ankle), along with cornerback Charles Tillman.

    RECEIVER GAMES

    With Percy Harvin inactive for the second straight game because of an ankle injury, rookie receiver Jarius Wright was targeted 10 times, catching seven of them for 49 yards, but his third-down drop in the back of the end zone at the beginning of the fourth quarter was big one.

    It was one of many dropped passes for Vikings receivers, but none had a worse day than Jerome Simpson. He was targeted five times, catching only one pass for 1 yard and dropping three passes.

    In seven games active, Simpson has been targeted 27 times and has only 12 catches for 138 yards. Despite another lackluster performance from Simpson, Frazier said he isn't losing confidence in the speedy receiver that the Vikings signed to a one-year, $2 million contract.

    "Oh, no. No, no. Nope. Not losing faith in Jerome," Frazier said.

    Frazier said he isn't sure when Harvin will be able to return.

    PLAYOFF RACE REMAINS TIGHT

    While the Vikings fell to 6-5, they didn't fall out of the playoff race.

    They entered the game tied with Seattle and Tampa Bay at 6-4, the sixth-best records in the NFC, but both of those teams had the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over the Vikings. That meant Minnesota would have been out of the playoffs, seeded eighth, if they started after 10 games.

    Fortunately for the Vikings, both Seattle (vs. Miami) and Tampa Bay (vs. Atlanta) were also losers on Sunday.

    Following Sunday afternoon's games, the Green Bay Packers (7-3), Seahawks (6-5), Bucs, (6-5) and Vikings (6-5) were the only teams with winning records in the NFC that weren't leading their division.

    Seattle got further bad news when it was learned that CBs Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman are facing four-game suspensions for using performance-enhancing drugs, according to ESPN's Adam Shefter.

    NOTES

  • Chicago's average starting position after kickoffs was the 26.2-yard line, best in the league, entering the weekend of play. The Vikings were second at the 25.6-yard line. The Vikings' average starting spot after kickoffs Sunday was the 21.3-yard line, despite a 38-yard return by Marcus Sherels. Josh Robison had one return that ended up at the 11-yard line. Minnesota was also facing the league's top kick coverage unit, with opponents of the Bears having an average starting position at the 19.4-yard line after kickoffs.

  • In the last five years, the Vikings have lost at Soldier Field by scores of 48-41 in 2008, 36-30 in overtime in 2009, 27-13 in 2010, 39-10 last year and now 28-10.

  • As relayed during the week, the Vikings kept safety Jamarca Sanford in the starting lineup despite Mistral Raymond being back to full health following a partially dislocated ankle on Sept. 23. Raymond continued to rotate with Sanford until Harrison Smith suffered his concussion, at which point Sanford and Raymond were the full-time safeties.

  • Brandon Fusco continued to start at right guard, despite recent struggles. The Bears ran a lot of tackle-end stunts on his side of the offensive line.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.


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