With 83 snaps, Vikings pretty much ran through playbook
With 83 snaps, Vikings pretty much ran through playbook
Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune
Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice made a catch near the end zone despite pressure from the Bears' Zack Bowman.
Last update: November 29, 2009 - 11:59 PM
The Vikings had the ball so long Sunday that offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell joked that he began running out of unused plays on his play sheet.
"You start looking at your sheet going, 'Man, I've run that one, I've run that one, I've run that one,' "Bevell said. "You're trying to find one you haven't run. It's a good problem to have."
The Vikings ran a season-high 83 offensive plays, which resulted in 537 total yards -- the most in coach Brad Childress' four-year tenure. Their ability to convert on third down contributed to both numbers.
The Vikings finished 12-for-18 on third down, a season-best 67 percent. "You have to take your hat off to the skill guys and what they did," right guard Artis Hicks said. "We just tried to do our part up front."
Hicks gets the start
Hicks, a versatile veteran, started for Anthony Herrera, who suffered a concussion last week against Seattle. Hicks had started one other game this season, replacing injured right tackle Phil Loadholt in Week 5 at St. Louis.
"I thought he did a good job," Childress said of Hicks. "He had Tommie Harris in there lined up as a 3-technique. [Hicks] is a jack of all trades. He doesn't flinch. ... He's a valuable guy, and there is nobody on that team that thinks twice about him going in there."
Said Hicks: "I felt good. Early on I started fast, had to get my legs back up under me a little bit, get my cardio, settle back down and get into the flow of the game. Once I did that I was fine."
Herrera had not missed a start since stepping into the right guard job on a full-time basis in the fifth game of the 2007 season.
Pass, then run
While Brett Favre finished with 48 pass attempts and the Vikings had 34 rushes, through three quarters Favre had thrown 46 passes and the Vikings had only 18 rushing attempts. There was a method to the strategy as the Bears tried to take running back Adrian Peterson out of the equation.
"They just had everybody in there in the box, slamming everything against the formation, slanting the front, putting the safety on the back side coming in," Bevell said. "They were just doing everything they could to stop the run game, which leaves their guys on islands outside against our wide receivers."
Said Favre: "We had run-pass options or pass-run options pretty much in every play. As you would expect if there are too many in the box, you throw it. So I think that is basically what it was. It wasn't anything that we haven't seen. It was more how they were going to play us. They mixed in some cover-2 from time to time, but we just did a good job of executing."
The Vikings kickoff coverage unit forced a turnover following a touchdown for the second consecutive week. Eric Frampton knocked the ball loose from Johnny Knox after the Vikings scored to take a 14-7 lead. Knox lost control of the ball while he was actually sitting on top of Frampton. The Bears challenged the ruling but lost.
"I didn't know he wasn't down," Frampton said. "I knew that I hit him and he was falling down. But that was awesome."
Rookie Jamarca Sanford caused a fumble on a kickoff against Seattle the previous week. Heath Farwell recovered both of them.
Cutler not happy
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has become known for throwing key interceptions and for not being expansive when asked about them. He threw two more Sunday, giving him a whopping 20 for the season -- and offered brusque answers to questions about them.
"It was tough,'' Cutler said. "We went against a really good football team. We knew that coming in. We didn't play up to our standards."
Bears running back Matt Forte said his team's game plan called for throwing early and often. "We didn't really even try to establish a running game,'' Forte said.
"We were passing a lot, and we were moving the ball. In the second half, we had a few three-and-outs. They were a good defense. This whole year has been frustrating. We are not in the place that we know that we can be, and we are not playing like we know we can.''
• Visanthe Shiancoe's touchdown catch gave him eight this season, tying Joe Senser's 1981 record for the most by a Vikings tight end in a season.
• Ryan Longwell's 52-yard field goal in the second quarter was his ninth field goal of 50 or more yards in a Vikings uniform, a team record.
• Cornerback Antoine Winfield missed his fifth consecutive game because of an injured right foot. Winfield had expressed optimism last week that he would be able to play but made it clear if he wasn't 100 percent he would not be on the field. The injury marks the sixth week that Winfield has been out of game action. Benny Sapp again started in Winfield's place. "[Winfield's] not going to go out there if he can't [operate at] 100 percent," Childress said. "There is just no hurry for him to do that."
• The Bears weren't about to let rookie Percy Harvin beat them on kickoffs. Chicago's Robbie Gould kicked off three times. Two went for touchbacks, and on one occasion Gould kicked short and the ball ended up in the hands of tight end Jeff Dugan.
• Scott Studwell, a linebacker who played from 1977 to 1990 and is now the team's director of college scouting, became the 18th inductee into the Vikings Ring of Honor at halftime of Sunday's game. Studwell also was the Vikings' honoree captain. The Vikings wore their throwback jerseys for the second time this season.
• Prince was in attendance on Sunday, although it was pointed out the Hall of Fame musician had some issues getting to his suite at the Metrodome.
JUDD ZULGAD AND JIM SOUHAN