Here’s my massive understatement for the day: Jerome Simpson had a tough game against the Bears. That’s about as polite as I can be in describing Simpson’s 1-catch-for-1-yard performance. Simpson himself was less charitable in his assessment of his own game. ”It wasn’t the offense, it was me,” he confessed to reporters in the locker room. “I was terrible. I didn’t make the plays I was supposed to. I just let the team down.”
The stats say Simpson was targeted five times. He was credited with three drops. Is “credited” the right word? Whatever. He dropped the ball three times. The first one was in a crucial third down situation on an early drive with the Vikings trying to go in for a score. Bill Musgrave dialed up a slant for Simpson. The receiver had enough separation to catch the ball and possibly run with it. Christian Ponder delivered a strike. And Simpson failed to catch it.
It’s not a stretch to say the whole game turned on that play. If the Vikings convert that third down and go on to score a TD to go up 7-0, it gives them a big early boost. Instead they were forced to settle for a field goal. The 3-0 lead would not last long. Adrian Peterson’s fumble – the bad hands thing was sort of contagious yesterday – would set up the Bears for their first TD. They took the lead there and never gave it back.
Simpson had chances to redeem himself later, but only committed more drops. In fairness to him, he was not the only culprit. John Carlson, Jarius Wright and Stephen Burton also had key mishandles. The difference for Wright was that he also made some other plays, finishing with 7 catches for 49 yards. Even Carlson managed to haul in a good completion late. But Simpson just couldn’t bring the ball in when called upon. His only catch of the day was a quick screen for one yard. Newsflash for Bill Musgrave: Jerome Simpson is not Percy Harvin.
How bad did it get for Simpson? When the Vikings needed a big conversion in the second half they threw the slant to Michael Jenkins instead of him. A slant to Michael Jenkins is basically the last option in your playbook. It is pure desperation. But at least Simpson can console himself with the knowledge that his quarterback hasn’t given up on him.
“Jerome is a heck of a player,” Christian Ponder said in support of his slippery-handed receiver. “Obviously, we’ve seen him do tremendous things. I have to keep trying to get the ball to him and let him make plays. He is going to have a huge impact on this team, and we’re going to keep coming to him.”
Because what are they going to do instead? Throw to Devin Aromashodu?
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