Monday Night Football in Week 5 featured two NFC North teams that came into the night with a combined record of 3-5. It seemed worth watching, however, thanks to the fact that rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was getting his first NFL start and because Sam Bradford was finally back in action after needing three weeks off due to a knee injury.
Neither man ended up having a happy ending. Instead, the game took a few weird turns. And aside from a few big plays, it was a pretty bad football game all around.
In the end, the Minnesota Vikings took down the Chicago Bears by the score of 20-17. These were the biggest winners and losers from the Monday Night Football action in Week 5.
Winner: Case Keenum was the spark the Vikings needed
Sam Bradford had a bad night. We’ll get to that momentarily. He didn’t quite last through the first half. In his stead, Case Keenum showed he’s most definitely the man who should have been starting for the Vikings to begin with.
His final numbers aren’t overwhelming. He passed for just 140 yards and a touchdown. A touchdown that included the best team-wide celebration we’ve seen all year.
But it wasn’t the numbers that impressed us. It was how much quicker the Vikings moved offensively, and how much energy the offense exuded with Keenum under center. Bradford, through no fault of his own, didn’t have the juice Monday night. Keenum did, and he sparked a big win this team desperately needed.
Loser: Vikings coaching staff for starting, then keeping Sam Bradford in game
Almost immediately, it was clear that Sam Bradford didn’t belong in the game Monday night. He’s been out the past three weeks with a knee injury on the same left knee he’s had surgically repaired twice before. Bradford himself said this past week that he might not be 100 percent healthy all year long (more on that here). He clearly wasn’t close to it in the game, struggling to move and get any air under his passes.
Heck, even Robert Griffin III knew the Vikings had to pull him, “for his own safety.”
Bradford was finally, mercifully replaced by Case Keenum right before halftime. He finished with just 36 yards on 5-of-11 passing, and he was lucky not to have at least two interceptions on plays the Bears couldn’t convert.
The bottom line is that Bradford had no business playing in the game. Minnesota’s coaching staff should have known it even before the game began. And then when it was crystal clear he didn’t belong on the field, for reasons that defy logic Bradford remained in the game.
Winner: Everson Griffen’s strip-sack generates first points for Vikings
Locked into a low-scoring affair, down by the score of 2-0 late in the second quarter, the Vikings needed something — anything — to go their way. That’s when the veteran Everson Griffen came through in a major way. Timing the snap count of the young quarterback, Trubisky, to perfection, Griffen got off the block and was behind left tackle Charles Leno before the big man even came out of his stance.
Trubisky didn’t even know he was in trouble until the ball was stripped out of his right hand.
.@EversonGriffen coming off the edge…
A scary sight.
— NFL (@NFL) October 10, 2017
Big defensive tackle Linval Joseph happily fell on the ball to give Minnesota its best field position of the night, in the red zone at Chicago’s 13-yard line. Unfortunately, as we saw all throughout the first quarter, Sam Bradford was completely unable to generate anything positive in the passing game and the Vikings had to settle for three points.
As a side note, Griffen now has at least one sack in each of his first five games this year.
Loser: Chicago has no discipline
It was an ugly game in many respects. Perhaps the most offensive aspect of Chicago’s performance, however, was simply how undisciplined the team was, on both sides of the ball.
The offensive line was atrocious. The defense got toasted in the third quarter on Jerick McKinnon’s 58-yard touchdown run, quite simply because it wasn’t even lined up when the ball was snapped.
Aside from the fake punt touchdown scored by the Bears when Pat O’Donnell found Benny Cunningham (watch here), the offense couldn’t get out of its own way. Penalties were a problem. In the end, Chicago had eight accepted penalties against it, accounting for 55 total yards and hurting them numerous times throughout the game.
In a divisional game, at home in prime time, it was not an encouraging effort by John Fox’s team.
Winner: Kyle Rudolph, Jerick McKinnon have breakout games
In a game that saw top receiver Stefon Diggs exit with a groin injury, the Vikings needed offensive skill guys to step up and make big plays. Tight end Kyle Rudolph and running back Jerick McKinnon were the ones to do it.
Rudolph caught six passes for 45 yards and one touchdown. McKinnon was the spark the running game needed as Latavius Murray struggled. He totaled 146 yards and scored on a long touchdown run in the third quarter.
Both of these guys had huge contributions in a narrow win. Both broke out at the best possible time.
Loser: Mitchell Trubisky makes typical rookie mistake at worst possible time
With just 2:32 remaining on the clock, in a tie game and backed up inside his own 10-yard line, Mitchell Trubisky threw the game away. He was pressured, forced out of the pocket and then threw it right at tight end Zach Miller.
Only Miller wasn’t open.
.@HarriSmith22 intercepts Trubisky!
— NFL (@NFL) October 10, 2017
Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith was lurking, baiting the rookie into throwing the pass. Then when it came his way he pounced. Overall, Trubisky didn’t have a bad night. It was much better than what we’ve seen from Mike Glennon this year. His pinpoint accuracy was on display, and if not for some key penalties that killed drives, the Bears might have won.
Instead, right when he needed to be sharp to bring a victory to his team, Trubisky made a critical mistake.
Winner: Vikings still undefeated on Leif Erikson Day
Did you know, leading up to Monday night’s game, the Vikings have never once lost on Leif Erikson Day?
Heading into Monday night’s game, the Vikings had won nine times in a row. Now we can make it 10 straight on the most fitting of Viking holidays.