Curse of Soldier Field very real for Vikings

The Vikings have had much more success on the stat sheets than the scoreboard when it comes to playing at Soldier Field. Despite the Vikings dominating many phases of the games at Chicago, the Bears have consistently found ways to win, often based on touchdown returns from interceptions and special teams. We chronicle the losses one-by-one in tortuous fashion.

Longtime Vikings fans will remember Sept. 23, 2001 for all the wrong reasons. The Vikings had advanced to two of the previous three NFC Championship Games and Dennis Green had brought them close to the Super Bowl twice. With the Week 2 games postponed following the Sept. 11 tragedies, the 0-1 Vikings went into Chicago needing a win to re-establish themselves as one of the dominant teams in the NFC.

What followed was pure chaos. As they are wont to do, sideline cameras pick up a screaming match involving Cris Carter and Daunte Culpepper and spent the rest of the game showing the combatants, which, by the fourth quarter, included Green in the shouting matches. The announcers spent more time discussing the sideline meltdown than the action on the field.

Up to that point, the Vikings were flying high in the NFC. They were the favorite to go the Super Bowl, but that all changed. On a critical fourth-down play late in the game, Randy Moss took a play off and his man ran down the line of scrimmage to stop the Vikings short of a first down that would have sealed the game. After the Bears scored just three points in the game's first 50 minutes, they score 14 points in the final 10 minutes for a 17-10 win. The sideline histrionics was what made national news and the team imploded thereafter. The Vikings would never get above .500 and won back-to-back games just once the entire season – a season that ended with Mike Tice coaching the game postponed by the Sept. 11 tragedies and the start (and end) of the Spurgeon Wynn era at quarterback.

It was a disaster for the Vikings and something that has been viewed as a curse of the Vikes when they head to Illinois. The stunned 2001 Vikings couldn't believe what they were seeing. They had dominated the game, yet, whether the ghost of George Halas or the multiple Mob squealers tethered with cinder blocks on the floor of Lake Michigan, it seemed like an unseen power came into play to cost the Vikings that game.

Sure, you could claim that "on any given Sunday" things take place that aren't readily explainable. If it was just once, it could be dismissed as the boxing trainer saying, "Kid, it wasn't your night." But it hasn't been just that one isolated incident. It has repeated itself again and again and again – like a recurring nightmare.

To be considered a curse, there has to be multiple bizarre incidents over time. Here is the evidence on the Curse of Soldier Field, which led to the eventual dismantling of the Vikings teams that dominated from 1998-2000 and has continued to haunt the Vikings long after Green, Carter, Moss and Culpepper were gone. It may well qualify for official curse designation.

Sept. 8, 2002: Chicago 27, Minnesota 23 – The game is played at the University of Illinois in Champaign while Soldier Field is being remodeled. The Vikings take a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter and twice push the lead to 10 points, including a 23-13 lead with 9:07 to play following a Doug Brien field goal. But journeyman QB Jim Miller leads the Bears on two touchdown drives in the final nine minutes, almost an identical replication of the final 10 minutes of the 2001 win at Soldier Field, including the game-winning score on a pass to David Terrell with 28 seconds left in the game.

Dec. 14, 2003: Chicago 13, Minnesota 10 – The Vikings rolled up 393 yards, including a career-best 148 yards rushing from Onterrio "The Whizzinator" Smith and Randy Moss catches nine passes for 93 yards, while holding the Bears to 232 yards. The Vikings dominate in every facet of the game except the scoreboard – despite running 74 plays to just 54 by the Bears. The Vikings hold the ball for a whopping 37:15 of the game's 60 minutes, but came away with a loss.

Dec. 5, 2004: Chicago 24, Minnesota 14 – The Vikings amass 391 yards in total offense, but Daunte Culpepper is picked off three times and fumbles away another turnover while trivia answer Chad Hutchinson throws a career-high three touchdowns and no interceptions as the Bears score the game's final 14 points for a stunning win.

Oct. 16, 2005: Chicago 28, Minnesota 3 – The Vikings outgain the Bears 283-192, but commit a season-high 14 penalties and two Bears touchdowns are set up directly by interceptions. The Vikings lead 3-0 in the final minute of the first half, but with no timeouts remaining, the Bears score a touchdown with 37 seconds left to end a dismal first half with a lead. Charles Tillman returns an interception 55 yards to set up one score, Chris Harris returns a pick 44 yards to set up another TD and Bobby Wade returns a punt 49 yards to set the table for a third TD in a game in which the Bears offense couldn't generate much steam on its own.

Dec. 3, 2006: Chicago 23, Minnesota 13 – The Vikings defense holds Chicago to just six first downs and 107 total yards. They outgain Chicago 348-107. They run 77 plays, as opposed to just 45 for Chicago. The Bears offense could do nothing, so it was on the Bears defense and special teams to do the job. Chicago never trail in the game, because Hester brings back a touchdown on a punt return in the second quarter and Ricky Manning picks off a Brad Johnson pass and returns it 54 yards for the Bears' second touchdown. The defense seals the deal early in the fourth quarter when Ciatrick Fason is tackled in the end zone for a safety. Johnson is picked off four times and, despite dominating almost every aspect of the game, the Vikings not only lose, they lose by 10 points.

Oct. 14, 2007: Minnesota 34, Chicago 31 – Adrian Peterson has his coming out party, rushing 20 times for 224 yards and three touchdowns, including scoring runs of 73, 67 and 35 yards. Even busts Troy Williamson and Tarvaris Jackson combine for a 60-yard touchdown pass. However, the defense allows journeyman Brian Griese to throw for 381 yards and three touchdowns and Hester not only brings an 89-yard punt return back for a score, but catches an 81-yard pass in the final two minutes for a touchdown to tie the game and potentially ruin what should have been a blowout win. It took a career-long 55-yard field goal by Longwell to preserve the win and let the Vikings escape Chicago.

Oct. 19, 2008: Chicago 48, Minnesota 41 – The Vikings outgain the Bears 439-327. Adrian Peterson rushes 22 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Gus Frerotte throws for 298 yards and two scores. The Vikings dominate time of possession (35:07-24:53) and number of plays run (74-56). They limit the Bears to 2.4 yards per rush on 22 rushing attempts. And the Vikings lose. Special teams were the primary culprit. With the game tied 7-7 in the first quarter, inexplicably, Chris Kluwe whiffs on a punt and when he tries to kick it on the move rugby-style, he gets T-boned and fumbles the ball. Garrett Wolfe scoops it up on the 17-yard line and takes it in for a touchdown. After scoring on their next two drives and tying the game at 17-17, the Vikings are about to get the ball back when Charles Gordon drops inside the 5-yard line to block instead of fielding the punt. The ball hits his leg and rolls into the end zone, where Zackary Bowman recovers for a touchdown, giving the Bears a 24-17 lead that they would never surrender. Gus Frerotte would throw four interceptions as the Vikings attempted comeback fell short.

Dec. 28, 2009: Chicago 36, Minnesota 30 (OT) – The Vikings were riding high atop the NFC North at 11-3, but the Bears take a 16-0 lead into halftime. The Vikings mount a furious comeback to send the game to overtime, but then-Bear Devin Aromashodu catches a 39-yard touchdown pass in overtime to give the Bears the win. Aromashodu was in the lineup because Hester was injured. Hester's replacement on kickoff returns was Danieal Manning, who averaged 45 yards on three kick returns. As a team, Chicago returned seven kickoffs for 214 yards to give their offense a short field almost every time the Bears got the ball following a Vikings score, sucking momentum away time after time.

Nov. 14, 2010: Chicago 27, Minnesota 13 – The Vikings hold a 10-7 lead with two minutes to play in the first half, only to see the Bears rally behind a big kick return from Hester and the Bears score with 44 seconds left until halftime to take a 14-10 lead to the locker room. They extend their lead in the second half and pull away thanks to three interceptions of Brett Favre, and Hester accounts for 147 return yards on just four touches, including kickoff returns of 68 and 32 yards and a 45-yard punt return. All three of the returns would lead to Bears' scoring drives and sealed the fate of the Vikings.

As the Vikings go into Soldier Field for a Sunday night game, they do so in dire need of a victory. Considering they have lost nine of the last 10 – many of them games they should have won and the only win coming as time expired on a day when Peterson set a then-franchise record for rushing yards – the Curse of Soldier Field may come into play.

Don't believe in curses? That's good. If something strange happens Sunday night, don't blame us. If you do believe in curses, get yourself some churchin' up on Sunday morning. The Vikes may need all the help they can get.


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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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" Longtime Vikings fans will remember Sept. 23, 2001 for all the wrong reasons. The Vikings had advanced to two of the previous three NFC Championship Games and Dennis Green had brought them close to the Super Bowl twice. With the Week 2 games postponed following the Sept. 11 tragedies, the 0-1 Vikings went into Chicago needing a win to re-establish themselves as one of the dominant teams in the NFC. What followed was pure chaos. As they are wont to do, sideline cameras pick up a screaming match involving Cris Carter and Daunte Culpepper and spent the rest of the game showing the combatants, which, by the fourth quarter, included Green in the shouting matches. The announcers spent more time discussing the sideline meltdown than the action on the field. Up to that point, the Vikings were flying high in the NFC. They were the favorite to go the Super Bowl, but that all changed. On a critical fourth-down play late in the game, Randy Moss took a play off and his man ran down the line of scrimmage to stop the Vikings short of a first down that would have sealed the game. After the Bears scored just three points in the game's first 50 minutes, they score 14 points in the final 10 minutes for a 17-10 win. The sideline histrionics was what made national news and the team imploded thereafter. The Vikings would never get above .500 and won back-to-back games just once the entire season – a season that ended with Mike Tice coaching the game postponed by the Sept. 11 tragedies and the start (and end) of the Spurgeon Wynn era at quarterback. It was a disaster for the Vikings and something that has been viewed as a curse of the Vikes when they head to Illinois. The stunned 2001 Vikings couldn't believe what they were seeing. They had dominated the game, yet, whether the ghost of George Halas or the multiple Mob squealers tethered with cinder blocks on the floor of Lake Michigan, it seemed like an unseen power came into play to cost the Vikings that game. Sure, you could claim that \"on any given Sunday\" things take place that aren't readily explainable. If it was just once, it could be dismissed as the boxing trainer saying, \"Kid, it wasn't your night.\" But it hasn't been just that one isolated incident. It has repeated itself again and again and again – like a recurring nightmare. To be considered a curse, there has to be multiple bizarre incidents over time. Here is the evidence on the Curse of Soldier Field, which led to the eventual dismantling of the Vikings teams that dominated from 1998-2000 and has continued to haunt the Vikings long after Green, Carter, Moss and Culpepper were gone. It may well qualify for official curse designation. The game is played at the University of Illinois in Champaign while Soldier Field is being remodeled. The Vikings take a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter and twice push the lead to 10 points, including a 23-13 lead with 9:07 to play following a Doug Brien field goal. But journeyman QB Jim Miller leads the Bears on two touchdown drives in the final nine minutes, almost an identical replication of the final 10 minutes of the 2001 win at Soldier Field, including the game-winning score on a pass to David Terrell with 28 seconds left in the game. The Vikings rolled up 393 yards, including a career-best 148 yards rushing from Onterrio \"The Whizzinator\" Smith and Randy Moss catches nine passes for 93 yards, while holding the Bears to 232 yards. The Vikings dominate in every facet of the game except the scoreboard – despite running 74 plays to just 54 by the Bears. The Vikings hold the ball for a whopping 37:15 of the game's 60 minutes, but came away with a loss. The Vikings amass 391 yards in total offense, but Daunte Culpepper is picked off three times and fumbles away another turnover while trivia answer Chad Hutchinson throws a career-high three touchdowns and no interceptions as the Bears score the game's final 14 points for a stunning win. The Vikings outgain the Bears 283-192, but commit a season-high 14 penalties and two Bears touchdowns are set up directly by interceptions. The Vikings lead 3-0 in the final minute of the first half, but with no timeouts remaining, the Bears score a touchdown with 37 seconds left to end a dismal first half with a lead. Charles Tillman returns an interception 55 yards to set up one score, Chris Harris returns a pick 44 yards to set up another TD and Bobby Wade returns a punt 49 yards to set the table for a third TD in a game in which the Bears offense couldn't generate much steam on its own. The Vikings defense holds Chicago to just six first downs and 107 total yards. They outgain Chicago 348-107. They run 77 plays, as opposed to just 45 for Chicago. The Bears offense could do nothing, so it was on the Bears defense and special teams to do the job. Chicago never trail in the game, because Hester brings back a touchdown on a punt return in the second quarter and Ricky Manning picks off a Brad Johnson pass and returns it 54 yards for the Bears' second touchdown. The defense seals the deal early in the fourth quarter when Ciatrick Fason is tackled in the end zone for a safety. Johnson is picked off four times and, despite dominating almost every aspect of the game, the Vikings not only lose, they lose by 10 points. Adrian Peterson has his coming out party, rushing 20 times for 224 yards and three touchdowns, including scoring runs of 73, 67 and 35 yards. Even busts Troy Williamson and Tarvaris Jackson combine for a 60-yard touchdown pass. However, the defense allows journeyman Brian Griese to throw for 381 yards and three touchdowns and Hester not only brings an 89-yard punt return back for a score, but catches an 81-yard pass in the final two minutes for a touchdown to tie the game and potentially ruin what should have been a blowout win. It took a career-long 55-yard field goal by Longwell to preserve the win and let the Vikings escape Chicago. The Vikings outgain the Bears 439-327. Adrian Peterson rushes 22 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Gus Frerotte throws for 298 yards and two scores. The Vikings dominate time of possession (35:07-24:53) and number of plays run (74-56). They limit the Bears to 2.4 yards per rush on 22 rushing attempts. And the Vikings lose. Special teams were the primary culprit. With the game tied 7-7 in the first quarter, inexplicably, Chris Kluwe whiffs on a punt and when he tries to kick it on the move rugby-style, he gets T-boned and fumbles the ball. Garrett Wolfe scoops it up on the 17-yard line and takes it in for a touchdown. After scoring on their next two drives and tying the game at 17-17, the Vikings are about to get the ball back when Charles Gordon drops inside the 5-yard line to block instead of fielding the punt. The ball hits his leg and rolls into the end zone, where Zackary Bowman recovers for a touchdown, giving the Bears a 24-17 lead that they would never surrender. Gus Frerotte would throw four interceptions as the Vikings attempted comeback fell short. The Vikings were riding high atop the NFC North at 11-3, but the Bears take a 16-0 lead into halftime. The Vikings mount a furious comeback to send the game to overtime, but then-Bear Devin Aromashodu catches a 39-yard touchdown pass in overtime to give the Bears the win. Aromashodu was in the lineup because Hester was injured. Hester's replacement on kickoff returns was Danieal Manning, who averaged 45 yards on three kick returns. As a team, Chicago returned seven kickoffs for 214 yards to give their offense a short field almost every time the Bears got the ball following a Vikings score, sucking momentum away time after time. The Vikings hold a 10-7 lead with two minutes to play in the first half, only to see the Bears rally behind a big kick return from Hester and the Bears score with 44 seconds left until halftime to take a 14-10 lead to the locker room. They extend their lead in the second half and pull away thanks to three interceptions of Brett Favre, and Hester accounts for 147 return yards on just four touches, including kickoff returns of 68 and 32 yards and a 45-yard punt return. All three of the returns would lead to Bears' scoring drives and sealed the fate of the Vikings. As the Vikings go into Soldier Field for a Sunday night game, they do so in dire need of a victory. Considering they have lost nine of the last 10 – many of them games they should have won and the only win coming as time expired on a day when Peterson set a then-franchise record for rushing yards – the Curse of Soldier Field may come into play. Don't believe in curses? That's good. If something strange happens Sunday night, don't blame us. If you do believe in curses, get yourself some churchin' up on Sunday morning. The Vikes may need all the help they can get. 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