RB Adrian Peterson
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Hester's Heroics Not Enough This Time
CHICAGO (AP) – Adrian Peterson showed the Chicago Bears why he was the first running back taken in this year's draft with an electrifying, record-setting rushing performance and three touchdowns for the Minnesota Vikings. Still, the Vikings needed a career-long 55-yard field goal from Ryan Longwell on the final play Sunday to beat the Bears 34-31. After Chicago's Brian Griese hit Devin Hester on an 81-yard TD pass to tie the game with 1:38 left, Peterson came through again. He returned the ensuing kickoff 53 yards to the Bears' 38-yard line. After Peterson was thrown for a 4-yard loss back to the 37 on third down, Longwell floated a kick that just cleared the crossbar and setting off a celebration at Soldier Field. Breaking through the line with power, making lightning-like cuts and then turning on the speed, Peterson finished with 224 rushing yards on 20 carries and scored on runs of 67, 73 and 35 yards. He broke Chuck Foreman's club record of 200 yards rushing set against the Eagles in 1976. Peterson's 35-yard TD run with 4:10 left in the game put the Vikings (2-3) ahead 31-17, but the Bears (2-4) came back.
Muhsin Muhammad caught a 33-yard TD pass from Griese with 2:36 remaining. After the Vikings recovered an onside kick at the Bears' 40, Chicago held and forced a punt, taking over at its 19 with 1:53 to go.
On second down, Griese dropped back and lofted the long pass to Hester. The kick-return specialist made a nice move and raced by Dwight Smith, catching the ball at the 35 and completing the touchdown.
Hester also returned a punt 89 yards for a TD in the first quarter, his third kick return for a score this season after setting an NFL record with six kick-return TDs a year ago.
Peterson's energizing runs came on a day when Tarvaris Jackson returned as Minnesota's quarterback after missing two games with a groin injury. He completed only 9 of 23 passes for 136 yards.
On both of his long touchdown runs, Peterson showed both power and speed. He went through the middle, made a fake, cut back to the left and ran away from the Bears secondary on the 73-yard score late in the third quarter. That put the Vikings up 21-14.
Late in the first half, the rookie from Oklahoma stormed through a hole on the left side, broke the tackle of Bears safety Brandon McGowan, reversed his field and outran the Chicago defense to tie the game.
The Bears had taken a 14-7 lead early in the second when Griese connected with Bernard Berrian on a 39-yard TD pass that came open when Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield slipped as Berrian made his move.
Griese finished 26-of-45 for 381 yards and a pair of interceptions in his third start, and first at home, since replacing Rex Grossman as Chicago's starter.
On his first TD, Hester raced to the left to catch Chris Kluwe's 54-yard punt and then came back across the field to pick up blockers. He split two defenders, pulled his ankle away from a potential tackler and eluded another on his way up the sideline.
However, the Vikings responded quickly as Troy Williamson got behind Bears safety Adam Auchleta and gathered in a pass from Jackson for a 60-yard touchdown on the final play of the opening quarter.
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