EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —The Vikings defense put up their worst statistical game of the season Monday night as they allowed 403 total yards of offense in a loss to the Bears.
With another NFC North opponent looming on Sunday, Minnesota's defense believes stopping the run could help out the entire unit.
"We've got to stop the run. You can't pass rush if you can't stop the run," defensive end Brian Robison said after the Vikings allowed a season-high 158 rushing yards to Chicago. "We didn't stop the run last weekend. It's not like the pass rush isn't there.
"We got hits on Jay Cutler last week," he added. "The difference is they were able to run the ball, so our main focus has to be to stop the run game, be great on first down, put them in third-and-long situations where we can get after them."
Bears running back Jordan Howard used a multi-purpose attack to hurt the Vikings as he racked up more than 200 yards of offense.
The Vikings are prepping to face another dual-threat running back this week in Theo Riddick, who has more receiving yards (267) than rushing yards (227) this season.
Riddick has been especially dangerous catching passes out of the backfield. In four career games against Minnesota, he has 13 catches for 156 yards and a touchdown.
"They've got a good back in Theo Riddick back there," Robison said. "They've got [Justin] Forsett back there. They've got some good guys that can hit the edge and make some big plays."
Zimmer: 'I had a bad game' on Monday night
Struggles during a game aren't just limited to players.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Thursday that he wasn't happy with his own performance calling defensive plays against Chicago.
"I called a bad game, a terrible game," Zimmer said. "And we didn't cover good enough, and they made plays.
"Sometimes that happens. It was one of my worst-called games I've had in a while," he added.
The Bears were strong on third down (seven of 14) against the Vikings, calling a screen pass and benefitting from a shovel play at opportune times.
Zimmer said he could tell he wasn't doing well against the Bears.
"It's like you're a call behind all the time," Zimmer said. "You get a feel, I've done it for a lot of years now. I pretty much know when I do bad."
The Vikings third-year coach said the best part about life in the NFL is that players and coaches get a chance to redeem themselves each weekend.
"Every week is a new week, and that's the good thing about it, too," Zimmer said. "When you're 5-0, you're still grinding. And when you're 0-2, you hope for the next week."
Support for T.J. Clemmings
Vikings tackle T.J. Clemmings has had an up-and-down season that has seen him bookend both ends of the offensive line.
Although the second-year player has struggled a bit of late, Zimmer said he appreciates the attitude and work ethic the 24-year-old brings to work on a daily basis.
Clemmings started every game at right tackle in 2015. He started there against the Bears but also has three starts at left tackle this season.
"I actually talked to T.J. today. The thing that I love the most about T.J. is that he competes," Zimmer said of the 2015 fourth-round pick. "He shows up every day, competes every day. He may have a couple bad plays here and there, but it doesn't seem to affect him on the things that he does.
"That's what I told him about, 'You're a fighter. That's what you do, go out there and fight,'" he added. "He started 17 games at right tackle last year and has played however many this year. He doesn't miss practice. He's going to go out there and work as hard as he can and give as great an effort as he can. That's important."
Interim Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur had a similar take on Clemmings.
"Well, T.J. has battled against some really fine rushers. I've been impressed with how tough he is, how hard he works," Shurmur said. "He's had quite a few really good snaps. For anybody, it's a matter of being consistent. We're going to just try to do what we can to help all our players be as good as they can be."
View images from the Vikings Thursday, November 3 practice at Winter Park.
For the Vikings: Alex Boone (concussion/shoulder/knee), Eric Kendricks (concussion), Zac Kerin (hand) and Sharrif Floyd (knee) did not participate. Tom Johnson (concussion), Jerick McKinnon (ankle), Marcus Sherels (wrist) and Andrew Sendejo (ankle) were limited. Xavier Rhodes (calf), Captain Munnerlyn (foot), Anthony Barr (groin), Audie Cole (finger), Jarius Wright (ankle) and MyCole Pruitt (knee) fully participated.
For the Lions: DeAndre Levy (knee/quad), Riley Reiff (illness) and Adairius Barnes (hamstring) did not participate. Ezekiel Ansah (ankle), Taylor Decker (ribs), Haloti Ngata (shoulder), Theo Riddick (ankle) and Darius Slay (hamstring) were limited. Marvin Jones (foot) and Corey Robinson (ankle) fully participated.