If you have followed the NFL for long enough, there comes a time when you think you've seen just about everything there is to see. Sunday was the proof that there is plenty of things that come together to win a game.
In the Vikings' 23-20 overtime win over Chicago, there were a ton of storylines: Adrian Peterson running for 211 yards. Alshon Jeffery going off on the Vikings defense for 12 catches, 249 yards and two touchdowns. Christian Ponder getting injured and setting the stage for Matt Cassel to throw for 243 yards after halftime. Chris Cook getting ejected for touching an official. Robbie Gould missing a game-winning field goal when the Bears make him kick from 47 yards out on second down. Blair Walsh kicking a game-winning field goal twice – the first negated by a phantom penalty and the second ending the game.
There were storylines as far as the eye could see, but, in the end, the Vikings showed the toughness to fight through adversity and throw a wrench in the postseason plans for a second division rival in two weeks. It's been a familiar theme for the Vikings most of the 2013 season, but this time it resulted in a win.
"It seems like this is the way games have gone near the end all year, doesn't it?" defensive end Brian Robison said. "It's just kind of been the story of our season. We've just to keep fighting like we did today and win more games. Today tells you that we're never going to quit fighting. No matter how bad things get, no matter how good things get, we're just not going to give up. That's not how this team operates."
The biggest turning point of the dozens that took place Sunday came in overtime. Walsh nailed a 39-yard field goal to apparently win the game. Pyrotechnics went off, Greg Jennings was heading up the tunnel, but the play was negated. A facemask personal foul on Rhett Ellison backed the team up 15 yards and the Vikings were forced to attempt a 57-yard field goal that hit the crossbar and bounced back.
"I can't believe they called that," Walsh said of Ellison's penalty. "There are so many things that happen on a field goal, I don't know how you call it in that situation. Those things happen. But we were able to bounce back and that's a testament to our team right now."
Bouncing back has been something new to the Vikings this season. When things have gone wrong, they have had the tendency to come late in games and the Vikings haven't been able to respond or retaliate. Center John Sullivan said the strength of the Vikings this season has been to face up to adversity and not let it affect the team – even though there were numerous "here we go again" moments Sunday.
"I don't know if you would call it resiliency, because these guys are never going to give up," Sullivan said. "Some people will look at it as a silver lining that we haven't lost either of these overtime games, but we have to start winning games in regulation and not let it get to this point. But I think the guys showed today that we still have the fire to keep fighting. We don't give up. We love winning. That's the ultimate goal, so however we get there is fine with us."
The Vikings have lost several games in the fourth quarter, including a couple of early games that dug the team a massive hole that they haven't been able to dig themselves out of. Jared Allen has chimed in for much of the season that the problem has been finishing games, not keeping the players engaged and playing hard.
"Resiliency and toughness have never been our problem," Allen said. "It's been consistency – doing it time in and time out and guys being accountable to their job. That's been our problem. I don't know of any team that practices as hard as this team. We just need more accountability and consistency, myself included. Too many times this year we haven't capitalized on opportunities we've had and that's why we are where we're at."
In what has been a season of frustration, the Vikings finally got a win in a game that has been almost a template of how they have lost games this season. The results have been a long time in coming, but for those who have stuck with the Vikings, they finally got rewarded Sunday with a win that has been a long time coming.
"We've been saying all year that, even with the lack of execution, we've got a lot of heart and play the entire game," Kevin Williams said. "We got down but never let it get to us. We got back in the game because the guys in this locker don't get down on themselves and never quit. We hung in there and, eventually, we got it."
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: ‘We're never going to quit fighting'
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