A crazy season for the Minnesota Vikings got a little bit crazier in the final meeting between the Vikings and the Chicago Bears at the Metrodome. What started out as a close game and looked to be turning into a Bears blowout instead turned into a 23-20 overtime victory for the purple and gold.
The game was 7-6 at halftime, with the Bears getting two Robbie Gould field goals and the Vikings getting a 33-yard rushing touchdown from rookie Cordarrelle Patterson. The touchdown saw Patterson line up behind Christian Ponder in the I-formation, take a pitch to the right, and dance through the Chicago defense for the score. That play made him the first Vikings rookie to score on a touchdown reception, a touchdown rush, and a kick return in the same season.
Near the end of the first half, quarterback Christian Ponder got sandwiched between a couple of Chicago defenders and suffered a concussion that kept him out for the second half. Matt Cassel came in to relieve Ponder, and actually played some pretty good football. Unfortunately, he took over with the Vikings trailing after an 80-yard touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Alshon Jeffery to give the Bears a 13-7 lead early in the third quarter. A Blair Walsh field goal cut the lead to 13-10, but then McCown and Jeffery hooked up again, this one from 46 yards out to make the score 20-10.
On that second Jeffery touchdown catch, Chris Cook was flagged for making contact with an official, and ejected from the football game. That left the short-handed Vikings' secondary in even worse shape, and it looked like the game might be getting away from Leslie Frazier's team.
But, the team refused to roll over, which was actually pretty awesome to see. The Vikings got a touchdown pass from Cassel to Greg Jennings to make the score 20-17, and got another Walsh field goal late to tie the score at 20. The tying drive saw the Vikings convert on a 4th-and-8 from their own 11-yard line to keep the drive moving, and ultimately resulted in the 30-yarder from Walsh.
That's when things got weird.
The Bears moved downfield in overtime and got the ball to midfield with just a few seconds remaining. Marc Trestman brought on Gould for a 66-yard field goal attempt that came up short, and the Bears prevented Cordarrelle Patterson from repeating what we saw in the Iron Bowl on Saturday by stopping his return.
The Bears then proceeded to win the coin toss in overtime and took the ball first, but had to punt the ball away to the Vikings. Minnesota then moved downfield and got Blair Walsh into position to attempt a 38-yard field goal for the win. Walsh hit the field goal, and the fireworks went off and the flags were being run across the field and the Vikings had won 23-20. . .
Until everyone noticed the flag for a 15-yard facemask penalty on tight end Rhett Ellison that took the field goal off the board and pushed the Vikings back. It was the continuation of a pretty bad day for Ellison, who had a pass at the goal line bounce off of his hands and into the arms of Bears' cornerback Tim Jennings when it looked like the Vikings could have taken the lead.
So, the Vikings attempted to run with Adrian Peterson on third down, lost a couple more yards, and brought Walsh out to attempt a 55-yard field goal. For just the second time in his career, Walsh missed a field goal of greater than 50-yards, as the kick sailed wide left and gave the Bears the ball back in good field position.
It looked like the Bears were going to take advantage, as they pushed into Vikings territory, got the ball into the middle of the field, and set Robbie Gould up for a 47-yard field goal.
Which he promptly missed, wide to the right.
Minnesota then took the ball back, and went right back down the field again. Thanks largely to the exploits of Adrian Peterson, they once again got Walsh into field goal range, and the second-year man from Georgia wasn't going to miss twice. He knocked it through from 34 yards. . .no flags, and no fireworks (since they blew them all off on the previous field goal). . .to finally give the Vikings a 23-20 overtime victory.
The Vikings played overtime games in consecutive weeks for the first time since Weeks 5 and 6 of the 1995 season, and were just moments away from becoming the first team since the 1971 Oakland Raiders to notch ties in consecutive weeks.
There were two monstrous individual performances in this game. . .there was Bears' receiver Alshon Jeffery, who was the recipient of 249 of Josh McCown's 355 passing yards and the two third-quarter touchdowns we mentioned previously. His exploits came in a losing effort.
And then there was Adrian Peterson. With a groin injury that has him running, visibly, at less than 100%, the man simply refused to allow the Minnesota Vikings to lose on this day. Earlier in the game, he became the 28th running back in NFL history to go over the 10,000-yard mark for his career, and he just kept building from there. He wound up with 211 yards on 35 carries, allowing him to join Tiki Barber and O.J. Simpson as the only running backs in NFL history with at least five 200-yard rushing games (Barber has six).
So, the Vikings move to 3-8-1 on the season. How does that affect their draft position? Seriously, who the heck cares for now? Let the eggheads work it out and we'll get around to it later.
I do know that the Vikings dealt the Bears a serious blow to their playoff hopes in this game, as the Bears now fall to 6-6, a game behind the Detroit Lions, who swept the season series from Chicago, essentially making it a two-game deficit.
The Vikings won, and it was awesome. We'll have more about this one going forward.