It would appear that the ghosts of Soldier Field continue to haunt the Vikings. In a game in which the Vikings looked ready to flip the script on Chicago, using big scores from their defense and special teams to get a victory, the snake-bit nature of their play in Chicago continues to be a problem that the Vikings can't seem to overcome.
It seemed as though every time the Vikings had the chance to take control of Sunday's game, the Bears found a response. It started the first time they touched ball and continued until the last time. In short, it was Chicago winning the Chicago way.
When rookie Cordarrelle Patterson took the opening kickoff back 105 yards for a touchdown, it looked as though the Vikings would do to the Bears what Chicago had so often done to Minnesota. But Devin Hester had other ideas. The longtime Vikings killer was at it again, returning the ensuing kickoff 76 yards to the Vikings 32-yard line. It would take just five plays for the Bears to finish the drive and tie the game at 7-7.
After the Vikings helped seize momentum with a sack/strip/fumble by Jared Allen that was scooped up by Brian Robison and returned 61 yards for a touchdown, the Vikings tied the game at 14-14 and had momentum working their way, despite being gashed defensively by Cutler.
But Hester reared his head again, bringing the ensuing kickoff back 80 yards to the Vikings 23-yard line.
The Vikings once again grabbed the upper hand when, from the 1-yard line, Harrison Smith tipped a pass up in the air that was intercepted by Kevin Williams in the end zone. The Vikings had dodged a bullet and had control of the game … at the least for three plays.
Looking for Jerome Simpson on the sidelines, Christian Ponder was intercepted by cornerback Tim Jennings, who returned the pick 44 yards for a touchdown to give Chicago a 21-14 lead with 2:51 to play in the first half.
"Pick-six is never good. That's a terrible play," Ponder said. "Obviously if you take away seven points it's a different ball game for us. I understand that I have to play better. I have to play four quarterbacks of football, limit those mistakes and there's a lot more that I can do in playing better and help this team be successful."
The Vikings offense came back on the field and, thanks to a 36-yard burst from Adrian Peterson, the Vikings tied the game, 21-21, with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph with just 1:11 to play in the half. But a personal foul penalty on Jamarca Sanford with the Bears seemingly content to go to halftime with the game tied gave the Bears momentum. It gave Cutler a chance and the Bears drove 60 yards in less than a minute to get a field goal and take a 24-21 halftime lead.
The Vikings appeared ready to exorcise the demons of years past by dominating the third quarter. But after getting inside the 10-yard line three times on sustained drives, the Vikings had to settle for three field goals, taking a 30-24 lead and opening the door for the eventual comeback that Cutler would lead the Bears on in the final three minutes.
This was one they let slip away from them. They were resilient in coming back from their mistakes and were poised to win a game the same way they have lost so many when on the road in Chicago.
But, the ghosts came back and the Bears did what the Bears do – break the hearts of road teams by pulling out victories in improbable fashion.
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.
Vikings can't flip script on Bears
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