(Photo courtesy www.gamedaygold.com)
The View From Parts Unknown...
It's crunch time. Time for the Vikings to show the football world if they're playoff pretenders of contenders. Which, after the disaster that was 2011 (3-13), that's a sentence we didn't expect to write this year.
Today: The Bears in Chicago, the first of three straight games against NFC North foes Chicago and Green Bay. In the next few hours or so, we'll track the Purple's progress, let you know what others are saying about the game, and offer other game day nonsense.
11:20 a.m. : Up first: A new photo of Aaron Rodgers. He was in New York Thursday:
11:27: Rodgers, and the Packers, play tonight against the Giants. If The Vikings win today, and the Packers lose..then next Sunday's Minnesota-Green Bay game is for the division lead.
11:34: Chicago's quarterback, Jay Cutler, will start today for the Bears. He missed Monday's loss to San Francisco due to a concussion. Chicago Sun-Times beat writer Sean Jensen, interviewed on KFAN-FM 100.3, predicts Cutler will have the necessary protection needed to stay upright.
11:46:Percy Harvin, however, is on the sidelines with that sprained ankle.
12:01: Vikings win toss. Little victories, and start on their own 20.
12:04: Bad start as Ponder is sacked on first play. 9-yard loss. Ouch. It leads to a three-and-out -- with Kluwe hammering out a 53-yard punt. Battle of field position on.
12:06: Here comes Cutler. Forte fumbles. Vikings recover on the 27. NFL tackles leader Chad Greenway recovers.
12:07: Jerome Simpson misses easy toss. Twitter-verse starts early crucifixion:
12:08: VIKINGS 3, BEARS 0 -- Blair Walsh boots Vikes to lead with a 40-yard FG.
12:11: Here comes Cutler again. Has his foot stepped on, and sacked. Hoping this is a trend.
12:17: One play after getting it back, Adrian Peterson fumbles. Bears recover on Vikings' 35.
12:18: BEARS 7, VIKINGS 3 -- Michael Bush walks into end zone from 1-yard out. Bears on top.
12:25: Critics unhappy over current score:
12:28: Kluwe shanks one (22-yards), giving Bears great field position. Critics respond:
12:33: BEARS 10, VIKINGS 3 -- Bears' Robbie Gould hits 47-yard field goal to take a touchdown lead.
12:44: Ponder to Rudolph for big 24-yard play, also the initial first down of the day for the Vikings.
12:48: Blair Walsh 30-yard field goal attempt blocked. Drive fizzles in major fashion.
12:53: Word that Chicago's Devin Hester will miss rest of game, suffering from concussion. Not sure it'll matter since Vikes' defense can't do a thing against Bears allegedly-challenged offensive line.
1:03: Antione Winfield called for pushing in end zone. Horrible call, which goes against Purple.
1:04: BEARS 18, VIKINGS 3 -- Michael Bush gets another rushing touchdown for Bears. Chicago romping. Bears even get the 2-point conversion on a fake. Yuck.
1:09: Common Man continues to amuse:
1:14: Ponder intercepted. Bears run it back to 13. This one feels over.
1:15: BEARS 25, VIKINGS 3 -- Cutler hits Matt Spaeth for a TD. Cutler outclassing Ponder.Big time.
1:35: At the half, the numbers hurt:
1:49: Antione Winfield intercepts Cutler, returns it to the Bears' 40. Touchdown needed asap.
1:51: BEARS 25, VIKINGS 10 -- Ponder to Rudolph for the TD from the two-yard-line.
2:07: Raymond TD run after fumble reversed. Nothing going right for Vikes today.
2:11: BEARS 28, VIKINGS 10 -- Gould hits FG from 46-yards out. Bears up by 18.
2:19: Big third-and-six for Vikings, with 1:52 left in third quarter. Michael Jenkins with the first down catch. On this same drive, two missed catches by Jerome Simpson. Pete Bercich on KFAN-FM 100.3: "If that last one was a spear, (Simpson) would be dead."
2:26: Vikings go for it on fourth and two on the Bears' 8-yard-line....and pass...incomplete. Why not take the three points? Why not give to Adrian Peterson?
2:31: We agree with Dawn --
2:35: Vikes with ball again. Twitter critics in full whine as Purple go three and out, punctuated by a Ponder sack...
2:25: AP carries it to the 50, passing 100 yards on the day. Great! But, Purple still getting their clocks cleaned. Bittersweet stat right now.
2:47: Adrian Peterson fumbles again. Bears recover at midfield. That'll do it, we predict. Vikings play-by-play man Paul Allen: "We can probably hold up on that MVP conversation when it comes to Adrian."
3:03: At two minute warning, Bears approaching victory formation, still leading 28-10.
3:04: Plenty of blame to go around? Appears so...
3:10: FINAL: BEARS 28, VIKINGS 10 -- Game over, as Vikes fail to win in Chicago again. Minnesota: Playoff pretenders right now.