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After Further Review: Defense Works Together on Safety Sequence

Posted Jan 2, 2018

After Further Review is a deeper look at plays or stats after Vikings games…

Was that a SKOL clap or a safety?

How about both.

After the Bears reached for momentum with a trick play for a 59-yard punt return touchdown on Sunday, the Vikings special teams and defense worked together to take it back in the second quarter.

Punter Ryan Quigley placed a 46-yard punt that was downed at the Chicago 12-yard line by Eric Wilson. The kick was one of five on the day that Quigley placed inside the 20 and allowed Minnesota’s defense the opportunity for a swaying series.

Two plays later, the Vikings defense that finished the regular season ranked first in total defense (275.9 yards allowed per game) and scoring defense (15.8 points allowed per game) was able to score two points of its own.

Minnesota forced a safety when quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was flagged for intentional grounding while in the end zone, prompting referee Craig Wrolstad to signal the penalty by meeting his hands together above his head, similar to the look of Vikings fans during the SKOL Chant.

The two plays that drove the Bears back 12 yards were the result of multiple Vikings players working together and executing their jobs.

Q2, 3:16 remaining — First-and-10 at the Chicago 12

The Bears are lined up in the I-formation with Jordan Howard at the 4 and fullback Michael Burton at the 6. Chicago motions tight end Dion Sims from the left end of the line of scrimmage to the right.

The motion prompts linebacker Anthony Barr to walk down to the line of scrimmage to the outside of defensive end Brian Robison, who slides from outside of Bears right tackle Bradley Sowell to in front of right guard Tom Compton, a native of Rosemount.

Barr surges through a chip by Sims and block by Sowell to reach the 6 as Howard takes the handoff. Howard tries to follow a lead block by Burton, but Robison drives Compton back, and Linval Joseph drives back center Hroniss Grasu, slowing down Howard.

Danielle Hunter, who was at the right defensive end spot on the play, is unblocked and finishes the play for a loss of 3.

“Basically just doing our jobs,” Hunter said. “I had the backside cutback, and if he decides to cut back, I’m supposed to be there to make the tackle.”

Q2, 2:32 remaining — Second-and-13 at the Chicago 9

With the run game in neutral and an adverse down-and-distance, Chicago tries to pass on the next play, but a collective coverage effort takes away Trubisky’s quick options and forces him toward his own end zone.

Part of Chicago’s play design is a rub route with receiver Dontrelle Inman cutting in and Kendall Wright cutting out from the slot. Terence Newman stays with Wright, and Xavier Rhodes stays with Inman.

Minnesota runs a game between Hunter and defensive tackle Tom Johnson along the right side of the defensive line. Johnson gets a good push off the line of scrimmage on left guard Cody Whitehair, freeing up a wide lane for Hunter to cut behind Johnson.

On the left side of the line, Robison zips past Sowell to win a 1-on-1 and put pressure on the pocket as Trubisky pumps the ball but opts against throwing to Wright, who appears to be his initial read on the play.

Barr is blanketing receiver Joshua Bellamy, who is only 3 yards past the line of scrimmage on a shallow route, taking away another option.

Joseph, who is initially double-teamed by Compton and Grasu, works his way up the field on Trubisky’s right as Hunter comes storming in from the left. Joseph and Hunter force another pump fake and backpedal by Trubisky, who steps into the end zone before attempting an underhanded pass.

Trubisky is still in the pocket, the ball does not make it past the line of scrimmage, and there are no eligible receivers in the area.

A review by officials confirmed that Trubisky and the ball were in the end zone when he tried the pass, resulting in a safety.