A pivotal game in the NFC North saw a pivotal series of plays twice swing the momentum in the middle of the second quarter. The Bears were faced with a third and nine on the Minnesota 45 yard line, when Kyle Orton appeared to be sacked for a huge loss. The Vikings, however, were off-sides on the play. On the third and four play, Matt Forte was stuffed on the run. Of course, during the play, Benny Sapp committed a blatantly stupid penalty by whacking Rashied Davis in the head multiple times clearly after the whistle. After the 15 yards were assessed, Forte busted through the Vikings' defense for a 26 yard gain and was knocked out of bounds at the one yard line.
Considering the score -- 7-3 at the time -- the Bears were on the verge of a major confidence boost. Scoring a touchdown to build a 14-3 lead on the road, especially after such a stupid penalty by the Vikes, would have been beyond huge.
It's a good thing for the Vikings the Bears coaching staff brought their F-game.
On first down, the Bears decided to put only one receiver into a pattern and throw a fade into double-coverage. The pass sailed out of Greg Olsen's reach. I have no problem with the Forte rush on second down, and he almost made it in the end-zone.
Third down, however, is a different story. The Bears went with the fullback dive, to a backup fullback who had been on the practice squad until this past week. Not only that, but they had Orton open up opposite the direction of the run before the hand off. So, as he spun all the way around, the defense was able to zero in on the potential ball-carrier. There are several times this season the Bears have tried to catch the defense off-guard with a fullback dive. The problem is that the Vikings have one of the most stout defensive lines in the NFL, and if you want to catch the defense off-guard you need to hit the hole as quickly as possible.
Things got worse as the Bears stubbornly left the offense on the field like they were playing in some sort of shootout. You can think I'm playing the second-guessing game if you wish, because I know that I was sitting here screaming at my TV, "take the points, please, take the points!" Instead of a 10-3 lead, the Bears had cleared a path for the Vikings historic 99 yard touchdown pass. All of a sudden the Vikes lead, their crowd is fired up, and the team has all the momentum.
It should be noted that Charles Tillman bit on something and let Bernard Berrian run free to the end-zone. I'm going to question preparation on this as well. There's no way a corner leaves his man if he knows he is the only one in the area. He obviously thought he had safety help. He was wrong, but if he's not prepared, that's coaching.
Lovie Smith and his crack-squad of appointed coaches weren't done, however. On the ensuing possession, the Bears punted to the Vikes, and the home team was faced with 86 yards and only 2:36 on the clock. After two Adrian Peterson runs, the Bears used their two remaining timeouts on each of the respective plays. Of course, their soft coverage in the flats on third down allowed Chester Taylor to gain the first down on a swing pass. The Vikings then proceeded to take the ball all the way down the field for another touchdown. I'm sure they enjoyed that extra time, due to the Bears' timeouts.
Look, I'm not saying the Bears would have won had the coaching been better. There were plenty of aspects where the players on the field were faltering, and the Vikings played a stellar second half. I could just do without the team being sabotaged by inept coaching. Is that really too much to ask?