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Updated: January 4, 2014 6:28AM
On the play that could’ve ended the Vikings’ hopes in regulation, the Bears’ defense was caught flat-footed Sunday. And pointing. And calling a play.
The Vikings faced fourth-and-11 from their 8-yard line, down three with 1:55 to play.
“They quick-counted us,” cornerback Zack Bowman said.
When the Vikings used a quick snap, the Bears weren’t ready.
Linebacker James Anderson, who, along with Jon Bostic, was set to blitz, was standing between defensive linemen Corey Wootton and Julius Peppers, calling the play.
When the ball was snapped, he was pointing with his right arm.
His shoulders were perpendicular to the line of scrimmage.
Peppers was caught off-guard, too: He wasn’t all the way down in his stance yet.
Bowman had just run over to cover his man in the left slot.
“Some of the guys weren’t even set yet,” Bowman said Monday at Halas Hall. “You know, we gotta be set and ready to go.”
Coach Marc Trestman said Anderson was “just a click late on his blitz” of Matt Cassel.
“We had the right play on,” Trestman said. “We just didn’t execute it.”
Bostic blitzed over the center and was blocked.
Rushing between the center and right guard, Anderson had a clear path to Cassel.
He was too late.
“Just slightly,” Trestman said. “Another click, and we would have gotten off just a split-second quicker. Cassel would not have been able to deliver that ball.”
The receiver flanked right, Jerome Simpson, released inside on Tim Jennings, running a dig route. He caught a 20-yard pass with Jennings just behind him and safety Chris Conte over the top.
“James was running right at [Cassel],” Trestman said. “He threw it around James; he could not have seen the throw, could not have seen the receiver, and the receiver ran right through the ball on the hash mark and made the play.
“It was a very good play by him.
“They were in a quick snap, and they got it off, and we were just a hair late getting to the quarterback.”
Anderson was untouched on his blitz.
“It would’ve been like blocking a kick,” Trestman said.
Instead, the Bears gave up the first down and much more: The Vikings were at the Bears’ 12 three plays later.
Their field goal forced overtime, and the rest of the 23-20 overtime loss would go down in Bears lore.
“You never want to let a team like that off the hook,” Bowman said. “Anytime you got a team that’s fourth-and-long, obviously, that’s money down for you. Obviously, we weren’t able to capitalize on it. That’s an opportunity we’d love to have back.”