The Vikings were looking to end the season – and start the New Year – on a winning note. They did that with a 34-10 win over the Chicago Bears, who were playing much of their second- and third-stringers.
The Vikings rolled up 396 yards of offense on the team – if not the personnel – that had the No. 1 defensive ranking in the league entering the game. Brad Johnson completed 27 of 40 passes for 247 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, and the running backs had good games. Michael Bennett rushed six times for 82 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown run, and Mewelde Moore rushed six times for 57 yards, including a 33-yard run to the 2-yard that set up another touchdown. Bennett, Moore, Ciatrick Fason and wide receiver Travis Taylor all had touchdowns.
The Vikings defense also ended the season on a positive note, holding Chicago's backup tandem of Kyle Orton and Jeff Blake to 97 net yards passing but did yield 154 yards of rushing. In the end, the Vikings admitted to playing against Chicago's backups for most of the game but head coach Mike Tice, despite being told he wouldn't return, still hung his hat (or pencil) getting a winning season in the books.
The Vikings started with one first down on a 15-yard pass but punted to the Bears, who marched down the field with the assistance of trickery. After getting to midfield on passes of 9 and 10 yards to Justin Gage, the defense stiffened and forced on the punting unit. But Minnesota was taken by surprise when punter Brad Maynard threw to running back Adrian Peterson, gaining 19 yards. Running back Thomas Jones picked up one more first down inside the red zone and got to the 3-yard line before Robbie Gould was called upon to give the Bears a 3-0 lead with a 21-yard field goal.
After swapping punts, the Vikings finished with the better field position and started their third drive of the game on their own 45-yard line. A 21-yard pass to Taylor is about all the Vikings could muster on offense, but it was enough to put them in position for a 54-yard Paul Edinger field goal to tie the game 3-3 only 7 seconds into the second quarter.
After a allowing a 35-yard run by Jones, the Vikings defense forced three straight incompletions and a punt. With Jones' big run, the Bears took back the battle for field position, but that wouldn't last long.
Johnson got hot, completing passes of 19 yards to Taylor, 15 and 9 yards to Nate Burleson, 9 yards to Moore and 3 yards to Koren Robinson on successive plays. On the next play, Moore broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and found a racing lane down the left sideline for 33 yards before getting knocked out of bounds at the 2-yard line. Fason finished it with a 2-yard plunge for a 10-3 Vikings lead midway through the second quarter.
An exchange of punts left the Bears with the ball at the 16-yard line, where their offense got a couple of big plays. Adrian Peterson started with a 23-yard run, followed by a 21-yard completion to Gage. But, facing third-and-1 the Vikings defense forced an incompletion and a stuffed Peterson for no gain to regain the ball on downs.
Johnson's hot streak continued, with passes of 13 yards to Burleson, 6 and 13 to Bennett, 12 to Moore and 5 to Wiggins before ending his streak of 12 straight completions. He regrouped and connected on two of his next three, hitting Burleson for 15 yards and Taylor for a 17-yard touchdown pass for a 17-3 lead three seconds before the half.
The second half started with much the same, with the defense forcing a punt after the Bears got near midfield and the offense taking over moving through the second-team defense without much trouble. Johnson went 6-for-9 on the drive, hitting Taylor, Moore, Wiggins and Burleson. His last completion of the drive was the touchdown-maker, a 7-yard flip to Moore that he spun into the end zone for a 24-3 lead with 3:58 to play in the third quarter.
When Kleinsasser blocked Chicago's ensuing kick and Will Hunter recovered at the 8-yard line, the Vikings were able to pile on. Edinger added a 27-yard field goal to make it 27-3.
With all the suspense of a preseason game, Jeff Blake replaced Orton and led Chicago on a 13-play drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Gage to tighten the score to 27-10.
It took the Vikings only three plays to get Bennett into the clear, where he ripped off a 61-yard touchdown run to cap the scoring and give the Vikings a 34-10 win.
It was the result Tice was looking for, ending the season on a 7-2 run and with a 5-1 NFC North record and a 9-7 overall record. Still, it wasn't enough to save his job, and the Vikings are already beginning the process of reshaping the coaching staff and organization.
Vikings Get Tice's Final Win
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