The sun sets early this time of year. On Sunday 41-year old Brett Favre brought his 3-5 Vikings into Soldier Field with his sights set on rallying his team in the second half of the season to make another playoff run. As the sun set, he left Soldier Field looking every bit a 41-year old quarterback in a lackluster performance as the Bears dropped the Vikings 27-13 to make another playoff appearance unlikely. Check out NFL.com’s highlights here. Favre struggled down the stretch, throwing 3 second half INT’s and couldn’t bring his team back like he did last week against the Arizona Cardinals.
But this Bears defense is much better than Cardinals’ D; they seem to be regaining Super Bowl form from a few years ago. They held usual Vikings nemesis Adrian Peterson to just 51 yards on the ground and limited Favre, effectively shutting down the Vikings attack.
On the other side of the ball, Jay Cutler and the offense seem to be improving. The Bears were able to run the ball much more effectively than I can recall against the Vikings. Forte and Chester Taylor were able to rack up over 100 yards on the ground. Cutler was able to keep plays alive with his feet and use his mobility to move the ball through the air. He finished the day with 3 TD’s and 237 yards through the air and the Bears offense finished the day converting 57% of third downs.
Another key story is the return of Devin Hester to elite returner status. He was back on kick returns and made his presence known with 2 returns for 100 yards. Top that off with a couple of punt returns for 46 yards and you’ve got the Ridiculous one back to his old self. Even though he didn’t bring one back to the house, his long returns set the Bears up with great field position all day long. Let me clear out the rest of my notebook in bullet point form:
- Earl Bennett is quietly becoming Jay Cutler’s third down security blanket. He only ended with 3 catches for 21 yards, but he seemed to come up with big plays on third down when Jay needed him.
- Speaking of Jay Cutler security blankets, Greg Olsen has become a prime target in the red zone, but Cutler can’t keep forcing it to him. His end zone interception was clearly forcing it Olsen.
- I’m not sure if the Vikings defensive line wasn’t that good or the Bears offensive line is actually improving, but they did a solid job for the most part. A few times the commentators noted that the Vikings had no push up the middle, which allowed Cutler to step up in the pocket. What ever happened to that Williams Wall? Maybe they’re off the juice?!?!
- Chris Harris blew coverage – Lovie’s Cover-who no less – on the Percy Harvin touchdown. He made up for it with the game-sealing INT.
- Which surprised you more, a missed Robbie Gould field goal or a Rashied Davis catch?
- Hey look, Tommie Harris!
- I don’t know if it’s the #30 jersey or what, but DJ Moore was Johnny on the Spot again. The difference between Moore and former #30 ballhawk Mike Brown? Brown would have brought that pick at the 10 yard line to the house!
- If the Bears expect to get a few more wins this season, they’ve got to cash in on opportunities. They had to settle for field goals when touchdowns were in order. You can’t get that kind of field position and settle for 3.
- Kellen Davis’ TD may have been one of the best play calls of the season. That was too easy!
- Let’s all be honest – Lance Briggs didn’t make the catch on that INT.
- I’ve got to give big props to Brian Urlacher. He was unofficially credited with a team-leading 7 tackles, but that only tells part of the story. Both Adrian Peterson and Visanthe Shiancoe got shut down and #54 had a lot to do with it.
Don’t look now, but the Bears are back atop the NFC North, tied with the idle Green Bay Packers while the Vikings appear to be left for dead and the Lions having just lost to the previously winless Bills.