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After Further Review: Vikings Defense Bottles Up Cohen

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

The Vikings struggled to defend Jordan Howard in a pair of meetings in the Bears running back's 2016 season.

Chicago added another playmaker, rookie Tarik Cohen, to its backfield in this year's draft.

Minnesota showed improvements against Howard, who rushed 49 times for 288 yards (5.9 per carry) against the Vikings last season, and stymied Cohen multiple times in the backfield.

On Monday, Howard rushed 19 times for 76 yards (maintaining his 4.0 yards per carry for the season), although he did have a 42-yard touchdown run negated by a holding penalty.

Cohen, however, was limited to 13 yards on six carries (2.2 per attempt) after entering the game with an average of 6.0 yards per carry (181 yards on 30 attempts). Cohen also entered the game as Chicago's receptions leader with 24 but caught just one pass for minus-3 yards.

Here's a look at two plays on which Minnesota excelled in limiting Cohen early:


Q1, 8:38 remaining — Second-and-9 at the Minnesota 45

Chicago has opened its second possession of the game in Vikings territory at the 46-yard line.

After a 1-yard run by Howard, the Bears use a spread formation with rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky in the shotgun and flanked by Cohen. They have tight ends Zach Miller and Dion Sims to the right of the formation and receivers Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright to the left.

The Vikings are in the nickel defense, with Trae Waynes covering Wright in the slot and Xavier Rhodes on Wheaton.

Trae Waynes is playing off coverage of Miller, and Harrison Smith is a few yards off the line from Sims. Smith begins heading toward the line of scrimmage as the ball is snapped.

Smith is able to read Trubisky, who doesn't look to his left and locks in on Cohen before Sims can engage a block. Smith knows he has help inside from Anthony Barr and sets the outside edge of the defense as he quickly closes. Cohen's right foot slips, sending him to the turf as Smith arrives for the tackle for loss to create a third-and-12.


Q1, 3:23 remaining — Second-and-8 at the Minnesota 39

The Bears have continued to win field position and are on the move after an 18-yard pass from Trubisky to Tre McBride and a 2-yard gain by Cohen.

The Vikings are still in their nickel with Newman as the extra defensive back, but crowd the line of scrimmage with Barr on the outside of Brian Robison on the left of the defensive line and Newman on the outside of Everson Griffen.

Eric Kendricks is also up at the line of scrimmage between defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Shamar Stephen.

The Bears have Trubisky under center with Howard in the backfield and a bunch formation with McBride on the line of scrimmage to the left. Cohen and Sims are off the line of scrimmage behind McBride.

The Vikings send Barr on a rush as Trubisky fakes a handoff to Howard and pitches to Cohen for a reverse. Barr, however, has gotten into the backfield before Sims can make it across the formation.

Barr also maintains the edge on Cohen, forcing him back toward other Vikings. Cohen tries to escape and does briefly, but Griffen is then there to deter Cohen. Barr's athleticism allows him to recover and sweep Cohen's leg with an arm tackle for a loss of 4.

The Vikings forced a punt two plays later.

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