Vikings Ups and Downs: Week 17 vs. the Chicago Bears

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Brian O'Neill
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Brian O'Neill /
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(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins /

The bad stuff from Week 17

1. Kirk Cousins falters again

When the Vikings signed Cousins to his massive contract last March, his detractors immediately pointed out that he doesn’t have the ability to come through in the clutch.

Sunday’s game did nothing to dispel this notion as the Minnesota quarterback completed 20 of his 33 passes for just 133 yards and a touchdown. Cousins appeared skittish all game and even screamed that “he didn’t have 10 seconds” to find an open Adam Thielen at the end of the first half.

2. The offensive line showed its true colors

That last point is a nice Segway to this. The offensive line folded when the Vikings needed it the most.

Just like in the last moment, Minnesota’s blockers couldn’t protect Cousins enough to allow him to throw downfield and the running game (which generated 63 yards) was non-existent after thriving in the previous two games against the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions.

3. Kevin Stefanski’s play-calling

Who knows what the actual culprit for the Vikings’ offense was on Sunday (it could have been Cousins’ checkdowns), but Stefanski’s play-calling didn’t have the same effectiveness as it had during the first two games of his tenure.

Perhaps an offseason of installing his system will do wonders for this offense. But on Sunday, it continued the same trend that began when Minnesota came off their bye in Week 11.

4. Mike Zimmer has a random challenge

Late in the third quarter, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook appeared to have a first down when he caught a screen pass on the near side of the field. What replay cameras showed was that Cook was just short of the first down.

Minnesota would line up and eventually get the first down on a Cousins sneak, but Mike Zimmer decided to go full YOLO and challenge it anyway. Although Minnesota didn’t end up needing the extra timeout, it was still a horrible call by Zimmer and his staff to check out the play.

5. Third Down Blues

The 2017 Vikings made a living off of their third down efficiency on offense, but on Sunday they were just 1-for-11 on the money down. That type of performance was just embarrassing and it sent Minnesota on an early vacation.