Jared Allen came into Sunday’s game needing four sacks to tie Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record. He had 1.5 in the first half against the Bears. In the third quarter he got two more, pushing him past Chris Doleman for the franchise record and leaving him just a half-sack behind Strahan. With J’Marcus Webb struggling to stop Allen’s speed rush, Mike Martz started committing extra players to stopping Allen. The strategy kept Jared away from Josh McCown well enough for the Bears to drive down the field and take a 17-13 lead early in the fourth.
The Vikings didn’t do much with the ball on their first possession of the fourth, but did eat enough clock to leave the Bears in a situation where they didn’t really need to throw. Things looked brighter after Cedric Griffin picked off Josh McCown deep in Bears territory, giving the Vikes the chance to take the lead and force the Bears into some passing situations. Unfortunately the Vikes were unable to convert the TD – they didn’t even get the field goal after a bad snap – giving the Bears a chance to work clock with hand-offs. That ended any hope of Allen getting the sack he needed to pass Strahan.
So Jared fell short in the end, but at least he gave the fans something to root for at the tail end of an atrocious season. The Vikings finish 2011 at 3-13 and way behind everyone in the NFC North. Now we look to the future, which should include some coaching changes, and after Joe Webb’s three relief performances, could feature an adjustment in the team’s plans at quarterback.