The Vikings have won blowouts and even close games during their comeback in the 2007 season, but Monday night's win under the glare of the national television audience may have been their ugliest win of the season.
They endured three interceptions from quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, a lost fumble, a less-than average (for them) rushing attack and still came out of their 14th game of the season with a 20-13 win over the Chicago Bears. They moved to 8-6 on the season and a game ahead of the New Orleans Saints in the playoff chase with a solid defensive effort that overcame the turnovers and lack of a consistent rushing attack.
Jackson ended the game completing 18 of 39 passes for 249 yards, but had an ugly game with his accuracy at times, overthrowing and underthrowing open receivers and making ill-advised throws on two of his interceptions. Still, he persevered and came away with the win. This time, he had to do it with a rushing attack that averaged a very average 4.0 yards per carry and Adrian Peterson being held to 78 yards.
The story of the game for the Vikings was a defense that forced an anemic Bears offense off the field on eight three-and-out drives and eventually got a game-clinching interception on quarterback Kyle Orton's last-ditch effort. Orton finished with a 59.5 rating on 22 of 38 passes with no touchdowns, and Minnesota shut down Chicago's rushing efforts, holding the Bears to 32 yards on 17 carries.
It was old-fashioned Black and Blue Division ugly, but Minnesota needed the win and eventually overcame a 13-3 deficit by scoring 17 unanswered points.
The defense did its part to start the game, keeping the Bears from a first down on their first drive, but a bobbled pass by Robert Ferguson and resulting interception by Brian Urlacher put Chicago in quick scoring position. Set up on their own 14-yard line, the Minnesota defense and presnap penalties kept the Bears from getting a first down, but Robbie Gould put the Vikings in a 3-0 hole with a 29-yard field goal three minutes and 19 seconds into the game.
The Bears started to stuff the box in an attempt to stop Peterson and it largely worked. Jackson picked up one first down with a 14-yard pass to Bobby Wade, and three plays later Jackson was hitting Peterson for 17 yards on a swing pass. On the next play, Jackson found Wade for 17 yards, but the turnover bug bit hard again and Urlacher was once again the fortuitous one, pouncing on an aborted handoff between Jackson and Peterson.
This time, the Bears weren't in field position and the Vikings defense continued to shut them down while the teams traded five punts without picking up a first down as the game moved grudgingly into the second quarter and the Vikings slowly gaining an edge in the battle for field position.
Getting the ball back on their own 38-yard line, Jackson hit Allison for a 19-yard pass before Lance Briggs led with his helmet into Jackson for an additional 15 yards. That was enough to put Ryan Longwell in position to tie the game and he did it with a 42-yard field goal with 10:07 to play in the half.
The Bears responded with their most extensive drive of the game, with Hester starting with a 10-yard reception and Orton converting a fourth-down run with a 1-yard sneak. Hester had another 9-yard reception, but a dropped pass and a Bears penalty brought on Gould for a 47-yard field goal and a 6-3 Chicago lead with 6:57 left in the second quarter.
The offenses resumed their struggles, with the Vikings picking up two first downs on consecutive 8-yard gains and a 26-yard pass to Jim Kleinsasser and, following a punt, the Bears picked up two first downs with passes of 11 yards to Peterson and 15 yards to Mark Bradley.
With a minute left in the half, the Bears punted away and it appeared they would go to halftime with a 6-3 lead. However, on the second play of the ensuing drive, Jackson lofted a weak pass off his back foot across the middle of the field. Chicago cornerback Nathan Vasher made the pick and returned it 34 yards to the 12-yard line to put the Bears in scoring position again. This time, the Bears worked it into the end zone with an 11-yard pass to Muhsin Muhammed and a 1-yard dive by fullback Jason McKie to take a 13-3 lead with 30 seconds left in the game.
Going into hurry-up mode, Jackson scrambled for 18 yards out of bounds and had 15 yards tacked on for a late hit, getting them across midfield to the 40-yard line. After hitting a quick 10-yard slant to Sidney Rice, Longwell was in position for a 48-yard field goal as time expired to put the Vikings behind by seven, 13-6, at the half.
The second half opened with shades of the first half, with the teams trading punts without generating much offense, but Jackson finally hit the big play that was so sorely missing in the first half. Facing third-and-11 following an Urlacher sack, Jackson connected with Ferguson and the receiver slipped three nearly simultaneous tacklers and found open field before being caught from behind at the 1-yard line. Peterson scored Minnesota's first touchdown on the next play, but a low snap led to the extra point flying wide left for a 13-12 Vikings deficit.
The defense continued to do its part, shutting the Bears down in three plays, but Jackson gave it right back with another interception. Three more three-and-out possessions between the teams moved the game into the fourth quarter before the Vikings offense finally came through with an extended touchdown drive.
Peterson broke loose for 16 yards on the first play of the drive and, one play later, Taylor added a 9-yard run that Jackson converted into a fourth-down pickup with a 1-yard sneak. After a 19-yard connection with Wade, the Vikings stayed on the ground. Peterson ran for 6 yards and Jackson for 9 on a play in which he injured his calf. Backup Brooks Bollinger came in and, despite a miscommunication on the handoff, Peterson was able to take a delayed handoff for the 8-yard touchdown and a lead that was extended to seven points, 20-13, with a Bollinger run on the two-point conversion.
With 10:56 to play, the Vikings would need a couple more defensive stands and they go them.
On the ensuing possession, they allowed consecutive first downs on passes of 15 yards to Bernard Berrian and 13 yards to Olsen but eventually forced a punt from midfield.
The offense picked up a first down on a 28-yard Peterson run, and nearly got another one at the Bears 40-yard line but came up 1 yard short and elected to punt it away and give the Bears one more opportunity.
Orton put them on the move with passes of 19 yards to Muhammed and 11 to Hester, but on second-and-10 from his own 45-yard line, he lofted a bomb down the middle of the field for Berrian. With it slightly underthrown, safety Darren Sharper came down with the over-the-shoulder interception near the goal line and brought it back 41 yards, allowing the Vikings to kneel on the ball and close out a 20-13 win, one they felt good about winning under trying circumstances.
It marked the fifth straight win for the Vikings, who moved to 8-6 on the season and stayed one game ahead of the New Orleans Saints for the last wild card position in the NFC.
Vikings Overcome Mistakes, Win 20-13
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