Minnesota and the Bears were tied for first at 6-5 — the 5-5 Packers played at New Orleans on Monday night — after the Vikings beat Jacksonville 30-12 Sunday and the Bears cruised to a 27-3 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
The Vikings' 18-point victory over the Jaguars was especially important because it marked one of the first times this season that Minnesota did not have one of its victories go down to the wire. The Vikings had won their previous five games before Sunday by an average of only 4.6 points.
"We came in with the mindset that it doesn't have to be close," said Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was held under 100 yards rushing for the second consecutive game. "We can blow these guys out. It started off sweet. We got 14 points real easy. We just kept the momentum from that point on."
Peterson wasn't kidding. The Vikings had a 14-0 lead only 1 minute, 41 seconds into the game. That resulted from a bad snap by the Jaguars that led to a fumble return for a touchdown by linebacker Napoleon Harris and a fumble by the Jaguars on the ensuing kickoff that led to another Minnesota touchdown.
The victory was only the Vikings' second on the road this season and their first in an outdoor stadium.
Now, defensive end Jared Allen is looking forward to the opportunity to deliver some payback to a Bears team that beat the Vikings 48-41 in Chicago on Oct. 19.
"That is a game that we've got to have," he said. "We get to go home and play Chicago, a division game in front of our home crowd. Our only goal right now is we've got to get to 7-5 and this game meant a lot. We have to take this momentum and we have to carry this home. We owe Chicago a butt whooping because of what happened defensively (to the Vikings) there. I'm excited for it."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "In your wildest dreams you don't think it's going to be like that, but you don't turn anything back." — Vikings coach Brad Childress, on the fast start against Jacksonville.
LINEUP WATCH: Wide receiver Darius Reynaud, an undrafted rookie free agent, was promoted from the practice squad to return kicks. Regular return man Maurice Hicks was inactive. Reynaud is second in West Virginia history with a kick return average of 26.8 yards and ran back two kicks for 36 yards. Hicks, a running back signed as a free agent this offseason, has disappointed so far. He averaged 22.3 yards on 26 returns, including 21.6 yards on five returns last week against Tampa Bay. He also lost a fumble on a fourth-quarter return that the Bucs recovered. The Vikings also made a change at punt returner, using receiver Bernard Berrian for the first time this season. Berrian had one return for 19 yards.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 — 50-plus-yard field goals veteran kicker Ryan Longwell has made this season, a team record.