The Vikings defense went without a sack and allowed a quarterback to have more than 300 yards passing for the first time in 2014 on Sunday in Chicago.
The Bears appeared to make a conscientious effort to quickly get the ball out of Jay Cutler's hands to the outside, utilized running back Matt Forte on screen passes and brought in reserve tackle Charles Leno as a blocking tight end multiple times to help slow down a Vikings pass rush that notched 20 sacks in its four previous games.
Minnesota's players spoke last week about the desire to disrupt Cutler because they saw it as a key to impacting performance of an offense with talent at the skill positions.
Defensive tackle Linval Joseph and defensive end Brian Robison said Monday that missed tackles the previous day allowed the Bears to reap too much success on short passes.
"I feel like they game planned with a lot of screens, a lot of quick passes and we missed a lot of tackles," Joseph said. "They were throwing a lot of 1-yard routes and we've just got to make the tackles. At the end of the day, missed tackles is what hurt us and that's what we've got to work on because we've got Green Bay (next), and they pass the ball very well and they run the ball pretty well, too."
This review is considering a ball knocked from Cutler's grip by Robison that was originally ruled an incomplete pass as a fumble, which officials determined was the correct call after Minnesota challenged the ruling. That would make Cutler's totals 31-of 42 passing for 330 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
A deeper review of Cutler's throws, shows how much the Bears capitalized on the short ones.
Cutler threw passes that traveled 10 or less yards beyond the scrimmage 32 times and completed 26 of those for 194 yards and the final TD of the day. The real kicker, however, is that 144 of those yards were gained after the catch.
The ninth-year pro was also 12-for-13 for 99 yards on passes that were caught at or behind the line of scrimmage. Cutler was 5-for-10 for 136 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions on passes that traveled more than 11 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
"He got the ball out quicker early in the game trying to keep us off rhythm," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "Some of it we didn't rush the correct way, which had been an issue in the past so we'll get back working on that.
Cutler was able to elude the rush and scramble until finding Alshon Jeffery for a 27-yard touchdown for Chicago's first score. He put the Bears up for good with a 44-yard TD to Brandon Marshall, successfully releasing the ball an instant before taking a hit from Vikings rookie Anthony Barr.
View images from the week 11 matchup at Soldier Field between the Vikings and Bears.
While those two scoring plays hurt, the short completions were a bigger impact on the overall game because they allowed Chicago to hold the ball for 38-plus minutes, which was more than five minutes longer than any previous opponent (New Orleans).
Robison said rushers have to keep doing their job properly, and it's up to a defense to take options from an offense.
"Up front, we've got to keep rushing. We've got to try to get to him as best we can, can't get frustrated," Robison said. "Linebackers and the back end have to stay tight to the receivers, but a lot of times, really what it comes down to, if they're going to quick pass you, they're obviously short routes so once we get to them, we've got to get them to the ground.
"When you look at a bunch of the screens they threw at us and the quick three-step drops and things like that," Robison added, "a lot of times they were getting first downs off of making somebody miss or us missing a tackle and they get 5-6 extra yards, and now it's a first down and we're back on the field again."