The Monday Night Football game between the Bears and the Vikings was supposed to be a blowout and ended up being something totally different. The Bears stood their ground and beat the free-falling Vikes in an OT thriller, 36-30.
The game was a classic tale of two halves.
In the first half, you saw the Vikings offense stagnant, and Jay Cutler playing as hot as he has played this entire year. You saw a Minnesota offensive line in shambles continuing their shabby play, giving quarterback Brett Favre little time to throw the ball and running back Adrian Peterson almost non-existent lanes to run through. At the half, the Bears were up 16-0. A total beat-down.
The second half was a mirror opposite of the first. The Vikings' offense got going, the offensive line started to give Brett Favre more time, and the legendary QB began to run a clinic on the Bears defense, just as he had four weeks previously. Adrian Peterson began to run with purpose and multiple times you saw AP run over helpless Bear defenders.
The Vikings scored 30 second half points, but it was all for naught. In overtime, Peterson fumbled after a 16-yard catch-and-run, leading to a Bear's touchdown and the end of the game.
With the loss, the Vikings have dropped three of their last four after starting the year 10-1, and the No. 2 seed is no longer in their hands; they have to win and get help to get a first-round bye that they desperately need.
Now, most people might say that there isn't much that the Vikes can take out of this game. However, there is. The Minnesota Vikings discovered their new identity.
Throughout the week leading up to the game, a lot was made of a relatively routine sideline discussion between Brett Favre and Head Coach Brad Childress, and the conclusion was made to give a heavy dose of Adrian Peterson. They planned to run in order to set up the pass.
The first half of the Monday Nighter featured the Vikings attempting to give the ball to Peterson frequently on first downs, which led to long third down situations and punts. During the half, they had to come up with a new strategy, and they struck gold. They began to spread the field and started to let Brett Favre throw the ball down the field. The long passes opened up holes for Adrian Peterson, who was then able to take advantage, despite the fact that he had the game-losing fumble.
This game signifies a fundamental change in the way the Vikings play football; a change that they must implement immediately. Whereas beforehand they would run with AP to set up passing lanes for mediocre Tarvaris Jackson, they now have to use Brett Favre's legendary arm and spread the field in order to open up running lanes for Peterson.
With this new philosophy intact, the Vikings piled on 30 second half points, and if not for two long Chicago kickoff returns (one of which should have been called back for an illegal block in the back) and an Adrian Peterson fumble (which he might have been face-masked on), the Vikings would currently be sitting at 12-3, not 11-4.
The Vikings have a new M.O., and they have to implement it quickly to have any chance of making a deep run in the playoffs.