Turning point: Turnabout on the Bears

The Bears have a winning record because of an opportunistic defense that creates turnovers. Sunday, it was the Vikings doing it to the Bears and they needed them to get the NFC North win.

Outside the Metrodome Sunday, as the snow piled up and the visibility went down, it had all the makings of December "Bears weather." But inside it was the Vikings who pulled the standard Bears way of winning – using defense to create offense that brought about a turnaround-is-fair-play turning point of the game.

Coming into Sunday's game, the Vikings defense had seven interceptions. The Bears had seven interceptions that were returned for touchdowns through the first 12 games of the season, but it was a pair of critical interceptions that set up the Vikings' final two touchdowns in a 21-14 win.

With the Vikings leading 7-0 six minutes into the game, Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler attempted to get a deep pass into rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who was in coverage with Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson. When Jeffery lost his footing, the ball came directly to Robinson, who picked off the pass and, after initially being ruled a touchdown, the ball was placed on the 5-yard line. From there, Adrian Peterson turned the turnover into points to give the Vikings a 14-0 lead.

"I saw him fall," Robinson said. "I thought they were going to call a penalty on it because we were so close to each other. But it all worked out well. This is what we've been trying to get all year. Now is the time we really have to make plays. We can't give up any more games and we need to make plays."

As it would turn out, those points would be critical. After scoring on the first drives of the game, the Vikings offense sputtered – punting on seven of its next eight possessions and having an interception on the other. It was clear that, if the Vikings were going to win, it would have to be on the backs of the defense.

With less than four minutes left in the third quarter and the Metrodome crowd turning ugly – routinely booing Christian Ponder and the offense – it was another huge defensive turnover that grabbed momentum by the throat. With Cutler looking for Brandon Marshall, he overthrew the pass into the waiting arms of rookie Harrison Smith, who took the ball and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown to give the Vikings a 21-7 lead on a score that would prove to be the game-winning points.

"I thought I was going to get in (the end zone) the whole time," Smith said. "When you play defense and you get your hands on the ball, you aren't looking to do much other than run north and south. I got of couple of great blocks and I just took off. It was a play that helped us turn the momentum around and get the crowd back into it. It kind of gave us a spark."

The same sort of plays that have made the Bears successful this season were used against them by the Vikings, who got some sweet revenge turning the tables on Chicago.

"The Bears are a good team and we were able to do to them what they do to teams," Robison said. "It was a great feeling to have the big plays coming our way."

If someone had said that one of the defenses in Sunday's game would score one touchdown and create a turnover to set up a very short field for another score, it wouldn't have been a huge surprise to many. However, not many would have said that team was the Vikings, but, thanks to the picks by Robinson and Smith, the Vikings used the same tactic Chicago has used so many times to create their own defensive-minded turning point.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.


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