The Vikings expected a battle and got it, thanks to soundly losing the turnover battle. Still, the players were happy to win, even if it wasn't in the manner they have recently gotten used to. Plus, get over 40 game notes that help tell the tale of the Vikings victory.
The good teams do it. The bad teams can't. The Vikings of 2006 more than likely would have found a way to lose Monday night against the Bears. But, faced with a turnover deficit of 4-0 heading into the final two minutes of the game, the Vikings found a way to pull out a 20-13 win to remain in the driver's seat for a playoff berth.
"Sometimes you win ugly," said safety Darren Sharper
, whose interception with less than two minutes to play provided the final nail in the Bears' coffin. "Percentages are that most times when you lose the turnover battle, you lose the game. This was an aberration."
Whatever it was, the Vikings will take it. With their fifth straight win, the Vikings have the longest winning streak of the Brad Childress era and their most wins in December (three) since 2002. With a national audience watching, while the Vikings offense tended to shoot themselves in the foot, but they showed they could win adversity.
"We showed that we're a team to watch out for," tackle Bryant McKinnie
said. "We're a team that can creep up on you, so people shouldn't take us lightly."
The Vikings trailed most of the game and, while the offense had its moments, it couldn't sustain the long drives that have been the trademark of the recent winning streak. The defense was constantly asked to deny the Bears despite continued solid field position.
"We knew if we could get some points and get ahead, we could take care of it on defense," linebacker Ben Leber
said. "It seems like when the offense has struggled, the defense has picked it up and vice versa. We had to make plays all night and we showed some character."
The win officially takes the Bears out of playoff contention and puts the Vikings on the continuing fast track to the playoffs – even if it was a departure from their recent successes.
"We've been beating teams by so many points, you expect every game to go like that," Sharper said. "The true NFL has games that are going to be tight. You know the Chicago Bears
are going to play us tough with the rivalry and (being) on Monday night. We knew it wasn't going to be a blowout game."
On a night when the Vikings offense couldn't get in sync for most of the evening, it was nice to "win one ugly" and keep the streak alive.
GAME NIGHT NOTES
One of the primary objectives of the defense and special teams was to control Devin Hester, the sparkplug of the Bears who has made so many big plays in his first 30 NFL games that he is only three kick/punt returns away from the all-time NFL record.
"You know when he comes in a game on offense that they're going to do something with him," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "We knew it would be something gimmicky like a reverse or a slot screen. We were aware of where he was, but didn't do anything specifically different to counter for him."
The result? Hester finished the game averaging 14.7 yards per kick return on three chances, 7.3 yards on four punts returns, four receptions for 28 yards and one run for a 1-yard loss. In all, he touched the ball 12 times and accounted for just 100 yards – a number the Vikings will take every time.
The battle of the Adrian Petersons was decidedly in favor of Minnesota's A.P. He had 20 carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns, and one reception for 17 yards. Chicago's A.P. finished with nine rushes for 26 yards and eight receptions for 51 yards.
The Bears managed just 32 yards on 17 rushing attempts – a paltry 1.9-yard average.
With his 78 rushing yards Monday, A.P. has 1,278 for the season. It moved him into third place all-time for the Vikings, passing Terry Allen (1,201 in 1992), Chester Taylor (1,216 in 2006) and Robert Smith (1,266 in 1997). With two games to play, he is only 18 yards behind Michael Bennett's mark for second place and needs 244 yards to break the franchise record of 1,521 yard held by Smith in 2000.
A.P. is now four touchdowns behind the team rookie record of 17 set by Randy Moss in 1998.
The Vikings had two receivers top 70 yards – Robert Ferguson with 79 and Bobby Wade with 70. It was just the second time this season the Vikings have achieved that feat – the other being the first Green Bay game. The Vikings have yet to have a 100-yard receiver this year.
Despite being asked to punt away from Hester, Chris Kluwe averaged 46.3 yards per punt Monday.
A couple of Bears defenders had huge nights. CB Charles Tillman had 12 tackles (11 solo) and Brian Urlacher had two sacks, six tackles, three quarterback hits, an interception and a fumble recovery.
With a 28-yard run in the fourth quarter, Peterson pushed the tandem of him and Taylor over 2,000 yards for the season. It broke the existing team record of 1,991 yards held by Robert Smith and Daunte Culpepper in 2000.
With 11 minutes to go in the game, Jackson was flushed from the pocket and had a throwaway pass, but, as he released the ball, he was shoved out of bounds and injured his left calf after going out of bounds. As a result, facing a third-and-goal from the 8-yard line, Brooks Bollinger had to replace Jackson.
Bollinger didn't look good on his first play, bumping into Peterson on a handoff and nearly fumbling the exchange. But, after changing direction, A.P. ran untouched for an 8-yard touchdown and the first lead of the game for the Vikings. On the ensuing two-point conversion, the Vikings came out with five receivers. It spread out the Bears defense and allowed Bollinger to run a QB draw that converted the two-pointer and gave the Vikings a 20-13 lead with 10:56 to play.
Ryan Cook left the game in the third quarter with a recurring stomach ailment. He was replaced by Marcus Johnson. Cook returned in the fourth quarter.
Sidney Rice went out in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.
With a 7-yard sack early in the third quarter, Kenechi Udeze tied suspended the Ray Edwards for the team lead in sacks with five.
On the biggest play of the game, sloppy tackling by the Bears' Nathan Vasher, Brandon McGowan and Danieal Manning allowed Ferguson to break loose for a 71-yard reception to the 1-yard line. After A.P. scored on the next play, Cullen Loeffler's extra point snap one-hopped and was missed to keep the Vikings behind 13-12.
The pass to Ferguson was the 19th play of 50 yards or more this season – tying a franchise record set in 1998. The breakdown of plays were six kickoff returns, six pass plays, five rushing plays and two interception returns.
The pass to Ferguson was put Jackson in a tie for second all-time for pass plays of 60+ yards in a season, trailing only Daunte Culpepper (five) in 2004.
On his first punt return of the second half, the Vikings didn't have a chance to kick away from Hester. The snap one-hopped its way to Kluwe, who had to hurry to get the ball away. On his first real chance for a return, Hester stumbled over his own feet for a 10-yard return.
The Vikings dominated the yardage numbers in the first half, outgaining the Bears 189-104. The Vikings held a rushing edge of 50-9 and a passing edge of 139-95.
Individually in the first half, Jackson had a passer rating of just 41.5 – completing 12 of 20 passes for 139 yards with two interceptions. Peterson had eight carries for just 22 yards, Jackson had 18 yards on two rushes and Taylor had 10 yards on just two carries. Nine different Vikings caught passes, led by Wade with three for 36 yards. For the Bears, Peterson had just five yards on three carries, but caught seven passes for 33 yards.
Antoine Winfield missed the second half due to a shoulder injury suffered late in the first half. Winfield told VU that the injury occurred on an 8-yard slant pass to Muhsin Muhammad with a little more than two minutes to play in the first half when he landed awkwardly on his right shoulder. He said after the game that the shoulder is sore and will get a MRI early Tuesday morning before a full damage assessment will be made.
The Vikings didn't go into a shell with just 30 seconds remaining in the half following a Jackson interception that led to a Bears touchdown in the final minute of the half. The Vikings came out passing and Jackson responded with an 18-yard scramble that got 15 more yards tacked on when Charles Tillman was called for a personal foul hit out of bounds. After a 10-yard slant to Sidney Rice, it gave the Vikings enough room for Longwell to hit a 48-yard field goal as time expired to cut the deficit to 14-6.
Jim Kleinsasser's 26-yard reception in the second quarter was his longest reception since Nov. 3, 2002 against Tampa Bay.
With an 8-yard run in the second quarter, A.P. broke the first-year record for a Vikings running back, eclipsing the mark set by Taylor last year.
On his first seven carries of the game, A.P. had just 14 yards.
The Bears were going to go for a first down with seven minutes to play in the first half on a fourth-and-inches play, but the Bears ended up with 12 men in the huddle, were penalized five yards and were forced to change the opinion and settle for a 47-yard field goal from Robbie Gould.
The Bears didn't get their first first down of the game until 8:20 remained in the half – coming on a fourth-and-inches sneak by Orton.
Early in the second quarter, E.J. Henderson made a sweet tackle chasing down running back Garrett Wolfe, his 100th solo tackle of the season.
In the first quarter, the Vikings outgained the Bears 87-26, but their two turnovers led to the 3-0 deficit they found themselves in. Jackson completed five of seven passes for 62 yards and an interception. A.P had four caries for 15 yards and Taylor had two carries for 10 yards. Wade caught three of the five completions for 36 yards. For the Bears, Orton completed five of eight passes for just 23 yards and the Bears had just three yards on four attempts – Peterson running twice for five yards and Orton and Hester each losing a yard on their only attempts. Peterson caught four of Orton's five passes for 14 yards.
On the first punt of the evening to Hester, he was lined up short, but Chris Kluwe launched one over his head that he backtracked to haul in at the goal line. After faking a reverse, he was hit from behind by Ben Leber and stripped of the ball, which rolled out of bounds on the Chicago 3-yard line. On the next punt, Kluwe kicked the ball out of bounds on the Chicago 13-yard line.
On a key third-down play in the first quarter for the Vikings, the team lined up Jeff Dugan as a wide receiver – drawing double coverage. The pass came his way, but fell incomplete.
On their first three drives, the Bears failed to pick up a first down and threw on seven of the nine plays – with one of the runs being a reverse to Hester.
Urlacher had one of the quarters of his life – getting an interception on the Vikings' first drive and a fumble recovery on a poor exchange between Jackson and Peterson on the Vikings second drive.
The fans made their presence felt early after the Vikings turned the ball over on their first possession. On two of the Bears first three play attempts, they were called for false start penalties as the result of crowd noise. The Bears had to settle for a field goal.
The Bears' lead in the first five minutes of the game marked the first time the Vikings have been behind in a game since the second quarter of the Oakland game.
On the opening kickoff, the Vikings opted not to fool with Hester, squibbing a kick that he had to come up to the 22-yard line to field. Unfortunately for the Vikings, he returned the kick to the 41-yard line – which effectively negated the strategy.
The pregame inactives for the Vikings were Kelly Holcomb (3rd QB), S Tank Williams, CB Ronyell Whitaker, RB Mewelde Moore, TE Garrett Mills, LB David Herron, OT Chase Johnson and WR Troy Williamson. The Bears inactives were Rex Grossman (3rd QB), S Josh Gattis, LB Darrell McClover, G Josh Beekman, DT Babatunde Oshinowo, WR Mike Hass, TE John Gilmore and DT Darwin Walker.
The fashion police may have an issue with the Vikings, as they wore the purple jerseys and purple pants for the first time in the Metrodome.
A pregame celebrity sighting for Vikings fans was cup-of-coffee Vikings and better-known WWE wrestler Brock Lesnar and his companion Rena Mero, better known to wrestling fans as Sable. Heads were turning and Lesnar may have one-upped Tony Romo in the eyes of some fans.
The Vikings captains Monday were Antoine Winfield, Chester Taylor and Heath Farwell. Unlike most teams that name captains for a season, the Vikings mix it up every week.
Part of the coin toss with the Vikings captains was Michael Floyd, a wide receiver from nearby Cretin-Derham Hall High School who was named Minnesota's Mr. Football for 2007. Floyd has committed to Notre Dame to play his college ball.
The announced attendance with 63,800 – the 103rd straight sellout at the Metrodome.