Overcoming a 10-point second-half deficit and shaking off the disappointment of a game-winning field goal nullified by penalty, the Vikings slugged their way to a 23-20 overtime victory against the Bears on Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis.
The Vikings got a huge game from Adrian Peterson, who racked up 211 rushing yards on 35 carries and became the fifth back in NFL history to need just seven seasons to reach 10,000 rushing yards for his career. The Vikings also received a strong performance in relief from quarterback Matt Cassel, who stepped in after Christian Ponder suffered a second-quarter concussion.
The Bears had a chance to win the game in overtime, but Robbie Gould’s 47-yard field goal faded wide right. In a curious move, Gould was sent out to attempt the kick on second down.
The Vikings, led by 30 rushing yards on four carries from Peterson, would capitalize on the Gould miss, marching into range for Blair Walsh’s 34-yard game-winner with 1:43 left.
Walsh appeared to have won the game for Minnesota earlier in overtime when he connected on a 39-yard field goal, but Vikings tight end Rhett Ellison was penalized for a 15-yard facemask penalty. After the foul, Peterson would lose three yards. Then, on fourth down, Walsh missed a 57-yard attempt wide left.
However, the Bears could not capitalize, which was the story of their last-ever game at Mall of America Field.
The Bears seemed poised to put away Minnesota (3-8-1) after wide receiver Alshon Jeffery hauled in third-quarter touchdowns of 80 and 46 yards to give Chicago a 20-10 lead. Jeffery, who’s become a key part of the Bears’ offense in his second NFL season, set a franchise record with 249 yards receiving on 12 catches.
The Vikings, though, would fight back, with Cassel hitting Greg Jennings for an eight-yard TD with 7:41 in regulation to cut the Bears’ lead to 20-17.
The Vikings then had a chance to take the lead after Bears guard Kyle Long fumbled a reception of a deflected pass, giving Minnesota the ball deep in Chicago territory. However, Ellison couldn’t haul in a potential TD pass, and Bears linebacker Khaseem Greene made the interception, returning it to midfield with a little less than five minutes left.
The Bears could not run out the clock, and a punt pinned Minnesota at its nine-yard line with less than three minutes left. Then, on the second snap after the two-minute warning, Cassel made a pivotal play, hitting Jerome Simpson for 20 yards on 4th-and-11. With new life, the Vikings marched all the way to the Chicago 12 before Walsh’s 30-yard field goal tied the game at 20 with 20 seconds left.
The Bears would have one more shot to win the game, but Gould’s 66-yard kick fell short. Vikings wideout Cordarrelle Patterson received the ball, but there would be no “Iron Bowl” miracle, as Patterson was brought down at the Minnesota 22.
The defeat leaves the Bears at 6-6 and with considerable work to do to catch and pass Detroit in the NFC North race. The Lions (7-5) have the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Bears after sweeping Chicago; if the teams tie for the division title, the Lions will have the edge.
The Bears’ wild-card hopes also took a major hit. The Bears are now 3-6 in NFC games, and their weak conference record could compromise them from a wild-card tiebreaker standpoint.
In another fine performance, Bears quarterback Josh McCown completed 23-of-36 passes for 355 yards with two TDs and no interceptions. Once again, though, the Bears’ defense had a tough outing, allowing 496 yards on 86 plays and not quite getting enough stops.
Cassel completed 23-of-36 passes for 280 yards with two TDs and one pick for Minnesota, which has shown improved form in back-to-back games against NFC North foes. After tying the Packers, they finished the deal against the Bears, who desperately needed a win but couldn’t get it.