It seems somehow fitting that the Minnesota Vikings are playing the Bears in Chicago on Halloween night, because, in many ways, Soldier Field has been a house of horrors full of ghosts for Minnesota over the last decade.
Before the Vikings won in Chicago last season, the Bears had rattled off seven straight victories over Minnesota in which is seemed like the ghosts of Soldier Field found ways to derail the Vikings – in good seasons and bad.
For those who don’t recall those games, here is brief recap of the nightmares the Vikings have suffered on Chicago’s south side.
2008 – The Vikings lost one of the craziest games ever played at Soldier Field, 48-41. The Vikings outgained the Bears 439-327, but were snakebit by bizarre plays. In the first quarter with the game tied 7-7, the Bears blocked a punt and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown. In the second quarter with the game tied 17-17, Chicago recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown to give the Bears a 24-17 lead. With the Vikings trailing 27-24 early in the second half, the Vikings gave up another fumble that was recovered in the end zone for a score to give the Bears a 10-point lead that would never be challenged.
2009 – The Vikings had started the season 10-1 but were struggling down the stretch when they hit Chicago in Week 16 at Soldier Field. The Vikings rallied back from a 23-6 deficit (with a blocked extra point accounting for the Vikings’ six points). But the Vikings scored 24 points in the final 16 minutes, including a 6-yard touchdown to Sidney Rice. Yet, in overtime, Adrian Peterson took a screen pass and, while fighting for more yardage, was stripped of the ball and Chicago recovered on the Vikings 39-yard line. On the next play, Jay Cutler ended the game with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Devin Aromashodu to win 36-30 in OT.
2010 – Not much went right for the Vikings in 2010 and their 27-13 loss to the Bears was no exception. After taking a 10-7 lead late in the first half, the Vikings defense allowed the Bears to drive 49 yards in eight plays in the final three minutes to take a 14-10 lead and the Bears worked the clock in the second half, outscoring the Vikings 13-3 and forcing Brett Favre into three interceptions.
2011 – Back in Chicago for a prime time Sunday night game, this was over almost before it started. The Bears sandwiched two touchdowns and a safety of Donovan McNabb to take a 16-0 lead in the first quarter that swelled to a 26-3 halftime lead in a 39-10 blowout punctuated by a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown from Devin Hester following the Vikings’ only touchdown.
2012 – The floodgates opened early as the Vikings shot themselves in the foot, having a blocked field goal, a Peterson fumble and a Christian Ponder interception lead to 25 unanswered points before halftime in a 28-10 Bears blowout win.
2013 – A classic Bears battle that has typified the mysterious things that take place at Soldier Field, the Vikings got to the Chicago 10-yard line or closer three times in the second half, but had to settle for three Blair Walsh field goals to take a 30-24 lead with 3:15 to play. But Cutler drove the Bears 66 yards on 10 plays, converting three third downs, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett on a third-and-10 play to give Chicago a 31-30 win, scoring the game-winning points with 10 seconds to play.
2014 – In Mike Zimmer’s first meeting with the Bears, the Vikings opened a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but Chicago dominated from there, running 74 plays to just 46 for the Vikings, outgaining Minnesota 468-243, holding the ball for 38:38 of the game’s 60 minutes and getting three TD passes from Cutler to score 21 of the game’s final 24 points for a 21-13 win.
2015 – The Vikings needed the same sort of bizarre finish to turn the tables on the losing streak. The Vikings tied the game 13-13 in the fourth quarter, only to have the Bears run a 14-play, 74-yard drive to score the go-ahead touchdown with 4:55 to go to take a 20-13 lead. But the Vikings came back with an 84-yard drive capped by a 40-yard touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater to Stefon Diggs to tie the game with 1:49 to play. The Vikings defense got a three-and-out with one minute to play, Teddy Bridgewater hit Charles Johnson with a 35-yard pass that got them into scoring position and Walsh hit the game-winning 36-yard field goal as time ran out for a 23-20 win.
With the Vikings at 5-1 and the Bears at 1-6, on paper this looks like a game the Vikings should be the prohibitive favorite to win. But, given what has taken place at Soldier Field over the last decade, it seems appropriate that Halloween will provide the backdrop for Monday’s game.